Who is your target audience, how hot are you writing, what do you want to charge, and how many words are you willing to invest into your cause? The kinkier you write, the less words you have to write, and the higher you can charge (because erotica is considered a high demand genre with a thirst for very specific content.)
But the hotter you write, the more you run into advertising and visibility issues because many places will not promote explicit content. If you're like me, you write very hot and use certain four-letter words. So be conscious of what you're writing and what opportunities that will afford you (and which doors that will close.)
In general, 15k words for $0.99 is a sweet spot. When you write shorter, readers b*tch about paying for your words (unless they are super hot addictive words. For instance, straight up erotica can go as short as 4k words as long as it's kinky.) If you write too much longer than 15k words then you aren't maximizing your cost/word ratio (unless you are charging 2.99.) While we all love to write, we also love to put food on our tables. Don't spend a lot of time writing words you can't charge for. The point is to put out a fun, exciting, sexy product, but to also maximize your earning potential.
Keep your first episode on the shorter end. It is your hook episode and the one you'll want to make permafree (depending on sales strategy). With Tease I made each episode a couple thousand words longer hoping to unconsciously make readers feel more and more satisfied, and giving me the option to charge more for later editions. Readers definitely felt satisfied, but I found that I was reluctant to charge more for later editions, which made my extra work kind of pointless. And by extra effort, it was almost doubling my turnaround time by episode 5.
And when you think about it, going back to the TV strategy, every episode is the same length except for season finales or specials. So I now try to keep each episode in the 15-18k word range. Five episodes is a good format for two reasons: 1...it winds up being approximately the same length as a full novel which gives you more strategy options down the road. And 2...when you bundle them up at the end, it gives you the ability to charge a reasonable amount for your work.
What do I mean by that? Well, if you write a three book serial and the first book is free, but you're only charging $0.99 for each of the next two books then your entire series can be bought for $1.98. That doesn't give you much power to price the box set at different levels unless you start playing around with prices.
Which brings us to pricing! Stop back for my next post where I'll talk about pricing strategies and why they work. If you haven't, please be sure to read my first post on How to Write Serials: Format. In that post I discuss the basics of the serial format and how to plan out your writing strategy.
Have you checked out my latest serial? Tempt was just the featured excerpt of the week over at Cosmopolitan.com!
It was amazing timing because you can read Tempt: Volume 1 for free from any retailer!