Iterative Writing

I’ve been meaning to spend a little more time talking about all of the different ways that you can leverage digital tech to lower the barriers of entry to getting into print.

I think that’s the kind of topic I might think would be easier to cover one bit at a time. The trouble I’ve been having is that picking which of those bits really is a bit of a sport.

There’s one thing I learned a few years ago that I think might have been helpful to me a few years back, and because it’s a flow we use so much these days, it’s easy to forget that it can be helpful to play with.

One of the stranger challenges in marketing a book is building up an audience of people who are enthusiastic about something that doesn’t necessarily exist yet.

The amusing thing is, it’s as staggering as trying to invent a story about something that doesn’t exist.

I suspect reviving the techniques honed during the era of serialization will prove to be a blessing in disguise for anyone looking to start sharing stories.


Let’s take a look at what you’d need to publish ten different stories and message them to ten different audiences of people.

Required Materials:

10 Different Chapters Or Short Stories

A Working Knowledge Of Getting A Website With Paygate To Download Functionality Online.

Access To A Tool Like Canva.

Access To A Collection Of Stock Photo Resources

Media Dollars

Ability To Spin Up Social/Platform Profiles

A Layout Tool. (I prefer InDesign, but there are a number of good tutorials available for a staggering number of platforms.)

I’m assuming that if you’re reading this, you’ve already sorted out that I’m going to have you prepare each of those segments of a story for publication. I’m also assuming that you’ve got a working command of a some of the more formal steps of this process like uploading your book file, preparing a cover etc.,

That might be a lot — but the truth is, if you don’t, you can find loads of delightful tutorials on these topics. With roughly 50–60 hours of well-intentioned study you could comfortably be familiar enough with the mechanics of the basics to get started.

And what you would do afterwords, is to put those samples in front of an audience of likely readers. You’ll be able to find those readily on just about every network of users on the internet — and you’ll spend time trying to get those individual stories some measure of attention.

Decide what “success” will look like before you get started. Spend the same amount of time for each one. Use a similar process. Use a different property for each story.

When you’ve put in the effort to seed all ten stories, take a step back and look at the results.

Did any get early traction?

If so — write the second chapter, and share it with your audience. If you want to expand the pool of people paying attention, you’ll already have done the hard work of beginning to build a promotional universe!

Did no stories get traction?

The best way to find out why is to write ten more!

Did the story you wanted to get traction, not?

World’s not ready. Shelf it. Try another round of experiments.

The beauty of this approach is that there really isn’t anything new about it. It’s the same approach that’s been used to test messages or build hype for…really…generations. I think the only real thing that’s changed is the ease with which something this historically complicated could readily be executed by the person who put together the story.

There’s something exciting about that.

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