It was only recently that I came across the concept of rapidly releasing novels. Honestly, the idea wouldn’t work well for me before I started writing full-time (for a lot of reasons, but mostly because I spent over two hours commuting every day… I actually believe with the right mindset, even part-time writers can make this work).
The goal behind rapid releases is to publish consistently, and mainly as your last book starts to drop off the recent releases lists (between 30–90 days). There are tons of benefits to a rapid publishing schedule but I’d first like to point out that this works best with genres of voracious readers (think romance) who can keep up with the releases. It also helps if you have a series or theme that you stick to.
My rapid releases started only recently. I actually publish under two different names — my own and a pen name — because I write in different genres. My pen name is where I’ve been testing the rapid release strategy to much success. Here’s what I’ve really found helpful.
Learn to write fast
I’ve finally been given the freedom to practice my ‘speed writing’ skills. That’s not to say I write and throw quality out the window in exchange for quantity. I wrote my first two books in ten and fourteen days. With two different names to write under and the focus on releasing quickly, I’ve been forced to hash out my plot a lot sooner in the process than usual.
While I used to be a ‘pantser’, I am learning that to write fast and publish quickly while still maintaining quality, an outline is pretty much a requirement. No more writing until the storyline figures itself out. I need to know the beginning, middle, and end before I even sit down to start a new story.
Develop your skills quickly
Rapid release means you need to understand how to start and finish a story, set word counts to hit or other goals, and improve your editing skills. When you’re on a deadline, even if self-imposed, you have to turn these stories around quickly so you don’t miss out on readers or let them pass you by.
The more you write and the faster you write, the more your skills are going to develop. Make sure you’re still learning and taking time to research and learn from others but you can still develop your own voice and style faster.
Build a backlist
While I had an audience for my own name, when I started a pen name so I could rapid release in a new genre, I had to start from zero. The benefits of a rapid release schedule meant that in just a month, I had a second story to add to my collection. And just yesterday I added a third.
The great part about these quick releases is that once someone finishes a book, I can entice them with two more reads or a mailing list so they can stay updated on new books. In a month, I’ll have another book to add to that list. As a ‘new’ author, it shows that I have a consistent schedule and my readers can expect new releases. It also helps me build trust so if I do miss a deadline, my readers won’t be up in arms.
Stay relevant with algorithms and readers
When you focus on rapid releasing your stories, you tell Amazon (or other book publishing sites) that you’re a relevant writer. If you publish and then forget about your account, algorithms will stop recommending your book.
The algorithms also focus on new releases and high volume of traffic and downloads. If you’re consistently publishing within the timeframe of you falling off the new release page (again, 30–90 days depending), you have the opportunity to have many books on the new release page. That gets you in front of more readers who might download or purchase your book.
You also have the benefit of staying relevant with your readers. If someone likes your style, they are going to want to keep reading. That’s helpful when you have a good backlist (especially as a ‘new’ writer) and when you’re consistently delivering new stories to read. They are more likely to follow you if you are going to keep showing up and giving them something to read.
Rapid releases can vary in length
Perhaps this whole time you’re thinking to yourself that there’s no way you can release a new 100K word novel every 30–90 days. Honestly, I can’t either — and I write full time. Some people can, though, and props to them.
Your rapid releases don’t have to be crazy long. My first rapid release was 10K words. My second was 6K. My third was 20K.
My readers expect a certain genre and a resolution when I release a story. If I can do that in 5K words, great. If I need 20K, great. If I can get it out as a full-length novel, also great. Your releases can vary in length from short stories to epic tales. It’s all up to you and what you’re capable of.
I’ve actually updated an epic story I was planning (what I expected to be upwards of 200K words) and turned it into a series. Instead of taking the years of writing the full thing, I’m breaking it apart into 10–12 ‘novellas’ that I will rapid release. I can release the first few parts of the book while I’m working on the middle and end of the story. It’s a great way to develop readers and by the end, I can combine them all and create a new, full-length novel for anyone who wants the whole package. But instead of making my readers wait, I’m giving them access to the story as it’s unraveling.
I’m really excited about how this has worked out for me. As a new full-time writer, this strategy helps keep me focused on writing and not dragging a story along. Knowing that I need to be releasing on a deadline so I can actually make money on my stories is great motivation.
I know rapid releasing isn’t for everyone and there’s a lot of hesitation around it but this has worked well for me. I can imagine as writers on Medium, you’re familiar with the strategy, especially if you post daily (or more than once a day). I have just translated that strategy into my fiction writing. Perhaps you can too.