Rapid Releasing and Amazon’s Short Reads

We’ll get to ‘Rapid Releasing’ and Short Reads in a moment, but first I have to tell you about the loudest noise I ever heard. It sounded like a shotgun discharging at close range and it made my cat, Mr Mau, bolt from the couch. It happened while I was sitting down, doing nothing at all. What was that? I thought. Wait, it came from me… From my back!

I was not prepared for my back to crack in such a violent and unusual way. I started to feel woozy, and about three minutes later the room started to spin. It was a confusing and memorable experience, largely due to the fact that I nearly fell over myself more than once when I tried to get up, due to a lack of balance. Anyone watching would have thought I was drunk, yet I was stone sober, with apparently no good reason for falling down.

That’s when the idea struck me. My best ideas always come to me when I’m ill or enfeebled in some way, and this was no different. It was like I had a sudden surge of blood to my brain, like I was suddenly supercharged. But you have to be careful about such moments. What feels like genius could be a bad idea – see  these inventions for reference.

I had vertigo. A disruption in the inner-ear, which is not a big deal as it turns out, and it wore off, but it’s something I’d never experienced. It can happen after a spinal correction they say, most usually after chiropractic treatment. Never the less, an idea was born – I should write a follow-up story to the as-yet unreleased Mika Ito novel (coming this August), but not just any story – It would be a short story, set along the same time line as Mika Ito but told from the bad guys perspective. This was the genesis of Mika Ito: Red Shift.

If you’re familiar with the video game Half life, and the subsequent Half Life: Blue Shift, you get the idea. Although Blue Shift wasn’t from the villain’s POV, the idea still applies. Set in the same time frame, but from a different perspective. Imagine a James Bond story written from the bad guy’s view point – what was the baddie doing when Bond was hogging all the limelight, romancing various women and winning games of poker? What is his or her perspective on Bond, and why? You’d need a strong and charismatic villain to pull off this idea, someone with a serious backstory worth talking about, and thankfully I have that in my main villain, Shinsuke Takahashi, AKA the Tomioka Torturer, a wizened old fiend with a surprising past and no mercy.

I think I can have the raw materials together by September, thanks to the 11,000 words I cut from the main Mika Ito plot, so things will come together easy, and this will be a great opportunity to use all that material I worked so hard on but cut late on in the drafting because I thought it hurt the narrative flow of Mika and Dylan’s story. It’ll be a standalone story and a fun indulgence, I think. A fresh idea that I can publish a month after the Mika Ito story, if it turns out to be good.

Let me know if you like this plan, or if it’s about as lame as a sleeping bag you can walk in, or shoe umbrellas. Marketing is hard, and the more often you can publish the better. I’ve heard of the ‘Rapid Release’ strategy some authors employ. This is when authors release a book a month, for at least three months. The idea is that the Amazon algorithm favours the writer that releases often, coupled with the theory that every book gets a boost in visibility during it’s first 30 days. The result is, rapid releasing will make the author’s work more discoverable, which makes sense, and the books will have a better chance of being featured in the various recommended and ‘Also bought’ spots on the website, which is coveted ground by many and can radically improve your chances of being read. In this scenario, what happens after the three months is anybodies guess. For all I can tell, the writer better come up with some new material fast, of they will lose the advantage they took so long to create. More content  = More discoverability.

If the Red Shift idea turns out to be a good story, I’ll publish it. If not, it’ll stay in my office. I don’t like the idea of publishing watered-down material just for the sake of it. But I do like the idea of publishing short stories, which this would be. They’re quicker to write and edit, and cheaper to produce when it comes to the cost of editing, typesetting and proof-reading. Amazon seem to market the ‘Short Reads’ idea well, and there are some marquee writers like Margret Atwood publishing exclusive short stories on Amazon. Is this the future? What do you think?

Well, it’s time to unwind. The weather is getting warmer, my beer is getting colder and the birds happy (there are baby birds nestling in my garden as we speak). So let’s make the most of this warm weather, it’ll be October before you know it. Thanks for reading, and to those that have subscribed to my blog, thank you very much. It’s very flattering and I hope this is worth your while. And stay tuned because I have some big news coming up soon – the cover reveal for Mika Ito (which might be next week or next month, depending on various factors). I’m nervous about the cover but I want to show it to you so you can tell me what you think. I was recommended the cover artist and I was blown away by their work when I checked them out, so I signed them up for Mika Ito. The resulting artwork is terrific, I think. But who am I to judge?

Feel free to comment on the Rapid Release and Short Reads ideas, especially if you have some experience with them. I’m curious about both.

As always, my best.

PF.

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