Droplets are Coming

MCMTuesday, June 2, 2015

A brand new kind of crazy is in the works, and with it, some philosophizing. Put on your dunce caps and get ready, because here comes Droplet Fiction.

What is Droplet Fiction?

Droplets will be a kind of proof of concept for series-based digital fiction, borrowing from the world of webfiction, but aiming it into the new frontier that is KDP (not that KDP is new, but it's only just started to gain the momentum necessary for a project like this to work).

The idea is simple: every week, a new piece of short fiction will be released for Kindle. At around 20,000-30,000 words, these stories are the kinds of thing the average person can read in a few days. But instead of each "episode" playing out one week after another, they play out in a sequence: A, B, C, D; A, B, C, D; etc.

A, B, C, D? Why do it this way?

First, it — for lack of a better term — drags things out longer, which hopefully increases the chances that readers stick around. When you release, say, 8 chapters in a row, the audience gets their fix and goes to find the next adventure, meaning you need to go find them anew, the next time you launch a series. Spreading it out expands their expectations window, so you can create a rhythm that will theoretically last years.

Then, once that pace has been established and is almost intuitive for the readers, we introduce the secondary variable: series length. Some series may last for 4 episodes, some may last for 8 or 12 or anything in between. The non-standard lengths, paired with the offsetting, means that there will always be something new to read as things cycle in and out. Rather than having "seasons" where all start and end, droplets just roll from one series to the next.

What series, though?

Excellent question, because for Droplet to work, the options need to mesh on some level — you can't have four random genres mashed together, because nobody would tune in for the ones they don't like. So to start, I'm testing with four very different concepts that I think could share an audience. I'll get into the details later, but suffice to say this is just the first step.

Step two will be bringing outside writers into the Droplet ecosystem — if for no other reason than it's really bloody exhausting, trying to write this many different projects at once. Eventually, each writer will be in charge of creating one episode a month (for however many months), after which we can start segmenting the Droplet streams themselves into things like "Mystery Droplets" or "Romance Droplets". And if things really pick up, we could increase the number of series slotted into a given month — say Tuesday and Friday releases, instead of just Tuesday.

In a perfect world, readers would have a constant stream of new material to read: not full-length novels (which are one-and-done) but satisfying chunks of story that reliably persist across a longer period of time.

On KDP? How?

That's the trick: to start, I plan on releasing the "episodes" on KDP as ultra-cheap ebooks, just to get people into the habit of watching for Droplets. Then, to make it even easier, I'll release compilations of each month's episodes as ebooks, so that people iffy about buying a $0.99 novella can get a taste for $2.99.

Then, once we get our footing, the individual episodes will shift over to an actual app called Droplet Fiction, where users can subscribe for $2.99/month to get the content as it's released. The compilations will still go to KDP, but with any luck, we'll be able to move people over to the service — a kind of Netflix for books, if you will — and build out our library from there.

What's next?

I'm still trying to finish the first batch of episodes for each series, and then I can start announcing titles. There's a lot of editing left to do, but I really like the characters involved, and I think they might just do the trick to entice others to play along in this crazy little experiment.

Stay tuned for more on this project, and if you'd like to try testing the app, I have iOS and Android versions ready to go, so just say the word.

Until next time!

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