In this update, Joe shares his thoughts on the launch of the collaborative project, how fans can contribute to the world, and what the team’s up to these days (and I share my thoughts on the project at the end).
It’s hard to believe you started “The Drifting Isle Chronicles” project two years ago. First of all, congratulations on successfully completing it! Secondly, you’ve had some time to reflect on the project and assess post-launch impact on your writing career. I have to ask: knowing what you know now, would you do this all over again?
Yes, I would do it again. It was a great project that allowed me to meet new people and expand my horizons, and it resulted in a nice little book that I like very much, so all and all it was definitely a win. It may not have resulted in fame and fortune (yet), but I learned a lot and enjoyed myself, which is all that really matters.
How did you plan for the joint marketing release of “The Drifting Isle Chronicles” novels?
We did not have a detailed marketing plan, certainly not a joint plan. We each intended to (and did) promote our individual books and the series through our separate channels: blogs, newsletters, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
The one unique thing we did was to create a website for the series which advertises the individual books and also encourages other writers to submit proposals to join the series. We were contacted by several interested authors and had some extended discussions, but none resulted in any new books.
Are there any marketing references/resources you recommend or found helpful during this launch?
Unfortunately, I’m one of those writers who prefers to write and hopes that the marketing will magically attend to itself, so I have no marketing resources or insights to share.
Which platforms/distribution channels did you choose for the release (and why)?
Originally, the Drifting Isle books were released on all the major platforms, including Amazon Kindle and Amazon paperbacks, Barnes & Noble Nook, Kobo, and Smashwords. But currently, all of my own books are Amazon exclusives, including “The Kaiser Affair.”
The three books published in “The Drifting Isle Chronicles” world have been well-received (Amazon and Goodreads ratings are solidly in the 4-5 star range). At the risk of ignoring the obvious success, is there anything you would have done differently with the project?
I suppose one thing I might have done differently was work harder to recruit even more authors to join the project from the beginning. It would have certainly made the decision-making and book-reconciling processes more difficult, but it would also have resulted in a larger series with more authors working to market the books, which might have helped to attract more readers.
You and the other “The Drifting Isle Chronicles” authors went through this crazy experience, but you all seemed to enjoy it. Is there talk about a future collaboration?
At the moment, all of the DIC authors are working on their own personal projects. But we do keep in touch every few months, and most of us have mentioned the possibility of writing DIC sequels at some point in the future. But currently, we have no concrete plans.
When you started the project, “The Drifting Isle Chronicles” was not a shared story world. However, since publishing the collection of novels, you decided to convert it to a full-fledged shared story world (whoo-hoo!). How has that gone?
As I mentioned earlier, we did make an effort to attract new authors to contribute to the series, and several authors did contact us for some extended discussions, but none of those discussions resulted in new DIC books.
Any parting words of advice for those considering a similar shared story world project?
I would certainly encourage other authors to try their hands at launching a shared world collaboration. It can be a great experience in terms of writing, making friends, and learning new tricks in publishing. But writers should keep in mind that whether they have two partners or twenty, the most important thing at the end of the day is always that they write the best book they can and enjoy the time spent writing it.
I’m not sure how else to view this experiment as anything but a success.
“The Drifting Isle Chronicles” team, initially a global group of strangers, spent over a year crafting a new shared world, wrote their own novels set in that world, helped each other along the way, published their books, received great ratings and reviews, and even made the entire thing a shared story world.
I’m more than a little surprised to learn there was no explicit marketing effort for the launch beyond the individual authors’ use of their social media networks and audiences, and I wonder what the commercial impact might have been had the team had done a blog tour around the date of the launch. And I’m disappointed to hear there is no current work underway with additional writers or contributors.
That said, Joe’s comment about focusing on writing more than marketing resonates with me, and the efforts of the team have resulted in a robust world with three solid novels underpinning its foundation. It’s a great bullet point in their writing resumes, and, more importantly, it serves as a rich resource down the road should the need ever arise.
That’s one of the benefits of a shared story world, after all: once you’ve built it, it becomes a sandbox you can always return to down the road…