The past month or two, a riot has taken place in my “writing closet”, as I try on various hats, some of which are entirely new to me. But that’s starting in the middle of the story. Let me back up a bit.
About two years ago, I received a phone call from my editor. In a first for me, she requested a new series from me – “Mindy Klasky vampires.” I was flattered by the request, thrilled that my tone was so identifiable that we could talk in such terms.
Long story short, the series didn’t work out. While I was publishing novels about witches and genies and drafting novels about vampires, the latter market shifted to two extremes – one very dark and very grim (which I’ve never written well) and one very light and very fluffy (“shoes and shopping”, which I’ve never written well.) There wasn’t a lot of room left for my vampires, who were funny and erudite, more likely to make a quip about Shakespeare than to identify a pair of Laboutin peek-toe pumps. (Does Laboutin even make peek-toe pumps? Do peek-toe pumps even exist?) My publisher and I agreed to work together on other projects, and the “Mindy Klasky vampires” were officially staked.
And so, my vampires became FRIGHT COURT, a novel about lawyers, vampires, and cupcakes — and my first-ever online, serialized, reader-supported publishing venture. I have to say, I’m having a ball.
What is exciting about FRIGHT COURT?
First – I’m much more involved with production decisions. I hired an amazing artist, Reece Notley, to create the cover for the book. She produced an amazing first draft of the art, and we had a few rounds of discussion to make it perfect. In the past, I was able to identify elements that I thought would be good for cover art, but I never got to engage in tweaking those elements into a final version that wholly satisfied me.
Second – I’m much more involved with editing decisions. FRIGHT COURT was edited by professionals; however, I now have the ability to tweak that “final” version. If there’s a word-choice that has always niggled at the back of my brain, I can change it before I post the file. If there’s a scene that I want to add or delete, I have the power.
Third – I’m much more involved with my readers. Every week, I receive email from my most devoted readers – people who are truly engaged with the story and can’t wait for the next installment. I’ve been thrilled each time a Google alert informs me that news of my novel is spreading, that satisfied readers are directed friends to check out the posted chapters. I love hearing about readers’ results when they take my Cupcake Quiz. And I also get a special type of email — notices of donations — from a subset of readers who believe in my project and want to support it most directly. I get to give back to those readers — not just with more chapters, but with “rewards” for donors who give at certain levels.
FRIGHT COURT is turning out to be “The Little Novel That Could.” It has experienced adversity, but it just keeps chugging up the hill.
So? How about you? Have you ever read a serialized novel? Do you think, realistically, that this is a model that can work in today’s publishing world? What tweaks would you make to my model, if you were going to serialize your own?