In the wake of Seth Godin‘s new book “Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us”, Chris Brogan has a great post on how to promote your book online that I wanted to make sure everyone saw. I also wanted to say that I have been considering the exact same issue. While I love the world of marketing and copywriting, and I love the online world, my truest desire is to write my fiction full-time. This led me to considering how to do such a thing through new media and how to promote it, and I came up with a strategy that I wanted to add to Chris’s post.
Obviously, promoting fictional work online is different than promoting non-fiction work. People want something different out of a good story than they want out of instructional work. People are going to keep coming back to see what happens next rather than to learn something new.
There are two traditional ways of drawing that reader back for the next part of the story. There is the serial and there is the franchise. The serial is an ongoing tale where the story is progressed in basically linear way with each installment, while a franchise is a world, a setting and set of characters that can engage in various adventures. The best ongoing tales combine a little of both, and so we have Star Wars and Star Trek, Dragonlance and Lord of the Rings, where the tales are interconnected by a common world and there are overarching storylines connecting the various stories, but each installment does not necessarily progress in a linear fashion from its predecessor.
This way of doing things can be far more difficult than just creating a good story, because there is a type of internal consistency that is required from the different stories. A good series and world go on to live beyond the author in the hearts and minds of the readers, and they will be quick to point out the flaws. A good article on this subject is “How to Build a Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart Two Days Later” by Philip K. Dick. Like no other writing, a series must give the appearance of history and depth. Writing a good outline and exposition for the series as a whole can help with this immensely.
Does anyone has any thoughts or examples of a good instance of online fiction?