Rapid release is the idea of releasing books in a series in a short time frame. It comes with a host of myths, pros and cons.
What’s the purpose?
This capitalizes on readers attention spans and market trends.
Don’t think this works? Look at Netflix. They drop all the episodes of a season at one time instead of spreading it out over the course of a few months. This generates a buzz that floods social media as more people are watching every episode and talking about it, and the hints at spoilers have more people trying it because it is “in their face 24/7.”
Don’t think traditional publishers do this? They may not drop the same series across a few months, but you can’t deny a flood of similar themed/genre books coming from traditional publishers after something “strikes big.” Look at Hunger Games. The Maze. Divergent. Harry Potter sparked similar Academy YA with things like Vampire Academy.
Myths, Cons and Pros
This is commonly thrown at writers by other writers. They claim that books released within a short time can’t possibly be good and that it takes a year to write a book.
These claims come from novice writers or “hobby”/part time writers more often than not.
If Nano proves anything, a book’s draft can be written with only a 1500 words a day in a single month. Full time writers or pros use things like dictation and plotting along with not procrastinating to write 1500 words or more in an hour. If they are spending two or more hours a day writing, they could get a draft done in less than two weeks.
They aren’t releasing that version.
Pros have an assembly line of beta readers, editors, formatters, and cover designers.
They have learned to delegate.
This is super important.
If a weak CTA in your book isn’t converting the readers to follow you on social media, Amazon, or join your newsletter, how do you recapture their attention in a year’s time? Only about 25% of readers remember what books they were waiting on, and it comes down to shoving your book back in the face of the other 75% to get them back to book 2, if they even remember reading it or haven’t grown tired of the trope.
With rapid release, you’re catering to their need for more by providing them nearly instant gratification. That means a FB ad or an AMS ad is paying for itself with the readers who are actively moving through the series as quickly as possible, sharing with friends, and those who are accepting the preorder of the next book.
They aren’t forgetting. That’s paramount in maintaining your book’s rank on sites like Amazon.
It also means that your stacks promos are also seeing better return than if you tried the same strategy after every release stretched every 6-18 months.
On top of maintaining their perception, some readers won’t begin reading your works until you have 3-5 books out in a series. They don’t want to fall for a series and then wait for a decade for the next one—looking at you George R.R. Martin. Need another example? Look at how many people didn’t get into Harry Potter until there were multiple books out in the series or a movie came out.
Do you want to wait 3 years to convert those readers when you could write at least 3 books a year and release them within three months the next year?
Rapid release is a time game. To take advantage of rapid release, you may spend a 12-24 months writing an entire series (quicker if you’re not new to writing), which means you may have to spend a little more time engaging with your newsletter subscribers in a different way or social media to help keep the attention of the followers you already have—or *gasp* forgo that entirely.
This is also a year where you’re not releasing anything so your back catalog of works may need a bump via AMS ads and FB ads to keep earning you money while you’re working on the next project.
If you decide to rapid release your first series, this might make it an additional year before you publish, and that’s okay too.
The biggest drawback to this marketing tactic that I’ve seen come from fellow writers. Whether that is their own bias, conditioned to traditional publishing house releases, or what, fellow writers can be some of the biggest assholes against this despite what full-time career writers and research can prove time and time again.
It’s going to be something that you’ll have to defend over and over again, and I hope you took the time to do it correctly (editing, formatting and cover) so that your work shines as an example of why this works. If you didn’t take the time to produce quality, your results are going to vary, and those voices saying why it’s bad might decide your book is a prime example.
If you remove the naysayers from the equation, the only drawback to me is three pronged:
Investment of resources
Depending on how you’re doing it, the investment to do the rapid release could be higher in the beginning instead of dragging it out over the course of a few years. You may be paying for editing/formatting/cover back to back instead of every 6-8 months, though it really depends on how you’re stacking things. You could just as easily save the money over the course of the same time and just spend it as a lump sum or gradually get the books ready and avoid the temptation to hit publish.
You’re investing time in a series that you don’t know if it will be a flop or a success until you hit publish.
This is why traditional publishers don’t rapid release. They aren’t going to invest in a series that they haven’t seen a return on the author. Example James Patterson puts out a book every 3 to 4 weeks. He’s a known investment. His works fly off the shelf, but he didn’t start out that way.
Feeding the habit
If you rapid release, you’re basically earning your income in a short time frame instead of over the course of time while you work on the next book. This income could be paying your next book, or you might not be seeing any return.
If your book isn’t moving well by itself, you might be discouraged on publishing the next book. It has nothing to do with how good or bad the book/plot/characters are. It’s hard to move a single book.
It comes down to the scales of “can I wait for a return on my investment or can I handle the selling only a handful of books a month until I get the next book out?”
Rapid release isn’t for everyone and it isn’t for every series. You’ll have to weigh if it’s worth it for you. And to help you stay organized for rapid releases or a standard release, I recommend The Book Launch Planner by Mandi Lynn.