January 24, 2019
Do you remember life before 24-hour, unlimited online streaming services? No? Well kiddies, in the good ol’ days, when you wanted to re-watch your favorite movie or tv show, you had to drive to a store and lay down cash for a plastic disc that you could then take home and slide into your “DVD player”. You then had to store the disc on a “bookshelf” in your home where it would gather dust forever. It was barbaric.
There was an upside to that barbarism, though, and it thrilled true fans to pieces and made all of the driving and storing and dusting worth it: DVD Extras.
What do DVD Extras have to do with readers? DVD Extras were made for fans, and fans want more story whenever they can get it. As the helmsman of your author career (yay, indies!), you can give it to them.
The theatrical release of the Lord of the Rings film trilogy clocked in at just under 9 hours for the three films. When they were later released on DVD, extra scenes and additional content were edited back into the movies and sold as “Special Extended Editions.” The extended Lord of the Rings trilogy clocked in at a whopping 11.7 hours. Almost three more hours of story and footage. Guess which edition hardcore Tolkien (TOL-keen) geeks purchased?
You, indie author, can do it too. Share extended scenes with your readers. Maybe extend that short road trip scene in Chapter 6? Flesh it out, punch it up, and offer it to your fans- they may love the extra banter or enjoy reading about the crazy thing that happened at the gas station that ended with them peeling out and back onto the highway just as a fireball engulfed the gas pumps? You know, fun stuff like that.
Not every reader will want the longer scene, and that’s ok. Those folks don’t have to read them. You released a complete story, just like the theatrical release of the Lord of the Rings was a complete trilogy. That extra long chapter and the extra hours in Middle Earth exist to delight super fans.
DVDs have been including deleted scenes since the very beginning, and they are still popular with true fans who want to see more of their favorite stories. Sure, the deleted scenes may not officially be part of the canon, but it’s still a helluva lot of fun to watch what could have been included but ultimately wasn’t for one reason or another.
Maybe a chapter in your latest novel went off-script a bit and was edited out from the final version. Not because it wasn’t good, but because it altered the pacing of the story or detracted from the central theme. Show your readers what else your character overheard while hiding in that cupboard, or the thoughts that were flying through the rookie’s mind in the moment’s before his fighter jet exploded (AGAIN with the explosions….). Retrieve that scene from the cutting room floor and give it a second glance. Maybe a bit of polish would make it a tasty little bite to send to fans.
Remember that what you’re trying to do is give readers something that they can’t get from anyone else. Reward them for being part of your fan club, and no one else can have these extras if they’re not part of the club.
Extra Steamy Scenes
Sex sells, or so we’ve heard, and there are readers out there that love a super steamy scene with all of the juicy details.
But… explicit scenes don’t always fly in your genre. You’re afraid of getting spanked and thrown in the “erotica dungeon” and don’t want to lose your sales rank. So then… should you write them? If you write sweet, Amish romance, probably not (chime in if we’re wrong!). But, if half of your readers signed up for your list through a steamy series or promo, they might love to know exactly what happened after Ricardo slowly swung the door closed.
Why not publish the book without the intimate scenes and then offer those up on your website for any reader that wants the naughty bits? It’s the best of both worlds! Readers that enjoy that little extra vroom can get it directly from you, and BONUS, you have visibility into how many readers like a little extra spice in their stories. More data is always more good.
Have more than a few steamy scenes? Publish an entirely separate, extended “Director’s Cut” and sell it directly from your website. Or, publish the “clean” edition with a call-to-action in the front of the book that offers the extended version for free to any buyer that requests it.
Your superfans will always want more stories, and that doesn’t always have to mean writing the next book (though, you know, you should do that too). You might find a lot of reader love by sharing a few extra bits with your biggest fans.
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