Fiction Vortex Collaboration with MZPtv

Incase you haven’t heard, I’m cofounder of a digital publishing startup called Fiction Vortex. For the skinny on FV, you can click over to the website. In this post, I’m excited to announce our strategic alliance with MZPtv.

Written Fiction in Screenplay Format

To be honest, before these guys reached out to us I had no idea people read serial screenplay-formatted fiction for fun. Now that I’ve signed up and dug into the site some, I’m not surprised by its niche popularity. If you’ve never delved into reading scripted fiction, you should check it out. It’s a unique pleasure.

MZPtv has been around for 10 years. During that time they’ve developed a loyal community around their virtual series, both fanfiction and original. (Note for Browncoats: They have some great new screenplays for Firefly!) But what I’m most excited about in our collaboration with MZPtv is the fact that these guys understand serial, episodic storytelling. For ten years they’ve been writing (quite masterfully) and reading written forms of visual media’s bread and butter–the 42 minute episode.

The Vortex is Expanding

This is what Fiction Vortex is all about. We believe that these ongoing, bite-sized chunks are perfect for digital fiction. So we’ve found new strategic partners who hold those same fundamental beliefs. Together, we’ll be able to expand the impact of what we are already doing.

MZPtv will continue their site and their quality scripted fiction. At the same time, they will transition one of their original storyworlds into narrative fiction and open a serial box via Fiction Vortex. This shift to narrative fiction (in addition to their scripted format) is something several of their authors have been making on their own. Now they can do it communally while joining forces with FV!

Joint Effort for Stronger Kickstarter

We are not quite ready to announce which of their virtual series they plan on turning into a serial box. That will be coming soon. I wanted to go ahead and introduce you guys to the MZPtv community. Go check it out. Unbelievable amounts of quality content for free. These guys have passion and talent. We’re also adding a stretch goal with MZPtv to our Kickstarter.

As always hit me with any comments and/or questions. What sort of package deals or relationships can you imagine between formats such as digital narrative, audio, and scripted fiction? Interested in scripts and narrative side by side?

How to Cultivate a Quality Email List

Despite some folk predicting the demise of email, the email list is growing in importance (especially for indie authors). I’ve blogged before about Amazon’s changes over the last year and a half that have been gradually throttling indies. The price gap between tradition and indie has closed. Free as a temporary promotional tool (pulse) has lost its potency. And now Kindle Unlimited is choking indies further.

All of this should have succeeded in convincing the indie author of the importance of owning direct access to readers. It should be evident that Amazon blitzes and Bookbub bursts are no longer the panacea many made them out to be (the horror).

I’ll be the first to admit my idiocy. I’ve blogged steadily for eight years, and I’ve only collected emails via my blog for the last three. I resisted forever, mainly out of laziness and lack of direction. The focus of my blog has meandered from Industrial Hemp, to humor, to wine, science fiction, the Simpsons and now mostly subjects of writing, publishing and geek culture. Until just recently, my email list languished around 500 subscribers.

Over the last several months, I’ve retooled my indie author business to grow sales via my own website. I still sell stuff on Amazon and Kobo, and I hope I always will. But I no longer drive traffic there. If the connection to my stories is made by me, I want the buy to happen directly. If Amazon and Kobo bring me new readers, then they can have a cut. If they do nothing to get the business, then why should I pay them 30% royalty?

Due to this new focus on my personal website, I’ve put renewed efforts into the old email list. In the last few weeks, I’ve grown it to 1,500. I hope to forge it into a *solid 2,500 by the end of the year. (*40% open rate and 10% action rate.) Here is how I’ve done it so far.

Cultivating an eMail List Requires Gathering Emails First

There are lots of ways to grab emails, some less ethical than others. For clarity, I’m talking about growing a list of people that actually care about what I’m doing and creating. An email list that provides somewhere in the neighborhood of a 30% to 40% open rate and a 5% to 10% response rate (clicking through links, downloading stuff, etc.) is tough to cultivate and maintain. But that’s what I’m talking about–quality emails from real fans. The good news is that new platforms are rolling out all the time. Out of my two current favorites, one has been around for a couple years and two others are brand new.


NoiseTrade has been around for indie musicians for what seems like forever. NoiseTrade for books started (I believe) in 2013. Although I monitored NT for over a year, I didn’t create my first products on the site until this past December. At first, all I did was throw up a couple of shorts and a novel from my Lost DMB Files series. No promotion. No nothing. Just created the product pages, uploaded and published. That effort got me 12 emails over a few months. [Read more…]