A Grand Experiment


Red LegionI’ve given a lot of thought over the summer to how I write and publish my books, and have come to the conclusion that it may be time for, as Monty Python might say, something completely different. I’m going to start this “grand experiment” with my latest project, IN HER NAME: RED LEGION.

In the past, I’ve used one or more editors in a first pass (after I go over it myself a time or two) to find the biggest problems, then I ran the manuscript through a group of beta readers for a fine tune. That’s generally worked well, but it placed a lot of responsibility on just a few people and also led to something of a production bottleneck with back and forth revisions.

In the meantime, the fans who were awaiting the book had to be content with little more than snippets and or periodic proclamations of, “Yep, I wrote X number of words today…” Big whoop, right? It’s really hard for me to come up with witty things to post to keep fans engaged during the long process of writing a novel, which is as much a bummer for me as it is for you: I want to be able to talk to you about what I’m writing, and I want to hear what you have to say. But the traditional process (and not just mine, but publishing in general) really doesn’t cater to that level of interaction.

So, what I plan to do with RED LEGION is as follows:

  1. I’ve published the first chapter draft manuscript on Wattpad, which is a unique publishing platform that’s also a mash-up with social media-style interaction. Everything’s free, and you can read/interact on any smart phone or your computer. It’s very simple and easy to use.
  2. I’ll add each new draft chapter as a new part/chapter to the Wattpad manuscript as I finish it, then send out a heads-up via Twitter, Facebook, here, etc. So it’ll be sort of like a serial story, with a chapter coming out – I hope – at least once a week.
  3. If you want to jump in, just set up an account on Wattpad (again, it’s all free), head over to the RED LEGION page, and read and comment away. I’ll incorporate the feedback into each chapter as I go, so you can help me write a better story while you enjoy it along the way.
  4. Once it’s finished, I’ll remove the book from Wattpad and put it up for sale on the usual platforms (Amazon, iTunes, Nook, Kobo, Smashwords). ALL I WOULD ASK of those who read the book for free on Wattpad is that they purchase a copy from their fave retailer. Sure, I know some folks won’t, but I believe that my real fans like you will so I can put food on my family’s table and continue writing for you. 🙂

So, what are you waiting for? Sign up with Wattpad and start reading RED LEGION!


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32 thoughts on “A Grand Experiment

  • Sue Mesick

    Dear Michael,
    If you don’t mind an outside observation from one of your readers. I find it highly unlikely that a majority of people will read a book for free and then keep a commitment in return to purchase the same book on publication. Especially if their input is contributing towards a better version of the same. I think you might want to replace this strategy with something along the lines of a single edition input from members with the hope they will purchase your next book. Or a promise of an older book for free download ( a coupon code) after its discounted by Amazon. As I consider myself to have ethics I can’t participate in this because I know that I won’t want to pay new market price for a book I’ve already read-I don’t see the point. Your confidence in human nature is admirable but I fear you will be probably be let down at the end of this. I would be more inclined to pay $5 up front for the privilege of a preview than I would to spend $12 after already reading the book.

    • Michael Hicks Post author

      Hey, Sue! Thanks for the comment! Sure, I know some folks won’t pay/buy the book after it’s published; that’s just the way some folks are. And while the experiment is just starting, so far I have to say that I’m very pleased with the results, both in terms of input by readers and just general interaction/interest. This is really the first time that any of my fans (beyond the folks who’ve done editing and beta reading) have had a chance to be active participants in the creation of a novel. Writing a novel alone and then sharing it is one thing; sharing with a group of people while it takes form has, in this brief time, been quite something else, and in a good way. 🙂

  • David King

    Somewhere today I saw “sign up to our mailing list and you get two free books”. Not sure whether I have already signed up but I tried to do so but it said that my email address is not valid. Does your system not accept a single character name? D@vidKing.uk

  • roger n. powell

    so, for what it’s worth, here’s my comment on group writing. that’s great for movies and t/v/, but, a successful author has a style which brings his writing to life and ideas which allow him to “tell his story” his way in his style (his muse). so, the question is will allowing others to invade erode his style? it’s a tantalizing offer, but, i’m a little reluctant

    • Michael Hicks Post author

      I’m not really concerned about this approach eroding my style, although I agree that could certainly be a concern. In my case, my skin is thick enough and I have sufficient confidence in my skills and style that I don’t have a problem telling someone that I don’t agree with a proposed edit or change. But having a number of eyes looking over it has already found a lot of errors and bits that could be cleaned up, and at least one minor continuity error tying back to CONFEDERATION. So that input has been very valuable so far, and I like to hope that folks are enjoying the ride. 🙂

  • Colin Payn

    Hi Michael I am not a writer & never will be so will not offer in put into your book. I buy your books because I like your style of writing & your story lines. I really hope this works for you & I hope it does not change your style too much. That said I await the time you publish & will buy it then when I can read the completed book.
    Regards Colin

  • Alan Grant

    Michael, I don’t feel qualified to correct any grammar, however your experiment is an outstanding idea. I am not a normal Sci-fi fan, however, I thoroughly enjoy your books and have loved the “In Her name” series of books. From what I have seen so far of Red Legion, you have me gripped and desperate for more. I also believe you could probably have more character character specific books like you have done with Reza. Keep up the good work, you are doing brilliant and I have recommended your books to many others and will probably re-read the series again.
    Yours Aye
    Alan