Kickstopper idea: Rethinking Self-pub

How good or bad an idea is it to write a book chapter-by-chapter, continuing on only if enough copies sell to cover costs to continue on for another chapter of writing?

If the playgrounds book taught me anything it is that writing for love (and I did love writing that) will not cover costs, especially for niche topics.

How would you set up a “pay-as-it-goes” writing system and what would be some gotchas? What price point for what might end up as a very short book? Could it turn purchasers into co-marketers, so they’ll keep getting updates?

Thinking of course, of an Apple TV book here, which seems pretty niche at this time. I’ll be done with the Swift Developer’s Cookbook very soon and am trying to brainstorm what’s next.

Thanks for your advice.


  • Erica –
    I very much enjoy your writing and have several (ok two) of your books. I could see charging $12.00 for twelve installments/chapters on a particular topic. I think you are dangerously close to a subscription model where I pay for your writings over a period of time. I thing you need to promise a minimum (e.g.. 12 issues) with the opportunity to renew. I wish you much success and will continue to follow and support your writings on the net.

  • This reminds me of preorder model. I preordered all of their books and being able to read chapters as they are written is great

  • After planning out the book, writing the first chapter, and posting that for free, I would setup a system to collect funds to continue the book independent of distribution of the book. I would figure out the funding required to make writing this book worthwhile, and divide that by the number of chapters, and publish each successive chapter when the previous chapter is paid for.

    You’ll have some customers just mildly interested in the book, who may never contribute. You’ll have some customers see great value in the book, and be willing to contribute hundreds of dollars to the publication of the book. And you’ll have many customers in between willing to pay a reasonable amount for the book.

  • Have you considered a Kickstarter-like model – write and issue the first chapter or two for free, and set a goal amount you’d like to reach before writing the rest?

  • I’d buy the Playground book but it’d cost me 10.99EUR which is just not fair related to 9.99$

    2.1.5 :064 > 9.99.to_money(:usd).exchange_to(:eur).format
    => “€8.87”

  • There are some authors out there that have sold a lot less for a lot more.