I recently came across a serialized fiction called Yesterday’s Gone. Yesterday’s Gone is one of the few fiction books I read that I will be happy to share with anyone I come across. I was super excited when I had the opportunity to be able to interview the writer of Yesterday’s gone, to be able to get inside his head and get a few tips, and to be able to provide this interview packed with value. In the interview below, I was able to ask Sean Platt, one of the creators of Yesterday’s Gone, a few questions about his serialized fiction. Sean was also able to share with us what he thinks about the future of writing, so make sure you read every word of this interview!
Oni: Can you please introduce yourself to WritersinCharge readers?
Sean: Hey there, Oni. It’s great to be here. Thanks!
My name is Sean Platt, and some of you may know me from Ghostwriter Dad. Many of you may not know me at all, even if you’ve read many things I’ve written! Being a ghostwriter means you can write high-profile content that’s read and spread from here to creation, but no one knows you wrote it.
I’ve written reams of copy, from blog posts to sales letters to auto responders and sales pages. You name it, I’ve written it. Three million words in three years is exactly what prepared me to write something as snow cone cool as Yesterday’s Gone.
Oni: I really love fiction and I think every writer needs to start reading them more often. How do you think fiction contributes to the career of a writer?
Sean: That’s a great question. Right now I think fiction is one of the best ways in the world to make a living as a writer, as long as you’re a reasonably good writer and know how to effectively build an online audience.
Take a look at the top 100 downloads on Kindle. They’re all fiction, many from self-published authors. When your book is $.99 and your traditionally published colleagues are 10 times that, you’ve got a good shot at getting checked out.
Your copy has to be good to great, your cover must be striking, and your story has to be good enough to get people to leave positive reviews and pass it to their friends. But if you can nail all that, fiction is a tremendous way to make a living. Sure, it’s easier said than done, but so is everything else about making money online.
Fiction helps you improve as a writer because you’re spinning stories that keep readers on the edge of their seat. And isn’t that the point of a blog post or an auto responder? By the same token, learning to write effective copy can make you one hell of a fiction writer since copywriting is a science that teaches you to keep people on the page.
Oni: I so much love your serialized fiction Yesterday’s Gone and I’d love it to be the main subject of this interview. Can you please tell us more about it and your reason for creating it?
Sean: Oh, sure. Yesterday’s Gone might be my favorite thing I’ve ever done online, and that’s saying a lot. It’s been immeasurably rewarding on a creative level, but its origin was really in rapid and effective monetization.
I knew it was time to start crushing it on Kindle, and when I studied the common denominators between all the successful authors drawing five-figure downloads, I noticed they all had multiple titles. So did I. But I had 5 titles in 4 different markets: horror, children’s, business and contemporary literature.
Worst funnel ever.
Yesterday’s Gone was the antidote. My writing partner, David Wright, and I developed a concept designed more like a season of serialized TV then a book. This new model allowed us to break large sections into single episodes. The entire book comprised a single season.
This meant we could have six titles, plus a “full season” that bound them all together in time for the holiday rush. But we had so much fun writing it, the story poured out in half the time we originally expected. Maybe that’s why it reads so fast!
Oni: Almost every section of Yesterday’s Gone is full of suspense and you make it so captivating that someone wants to know what happens next. What part do you love the most about Yesterday’s gone?
Sean: Thanks for noticing! That was the intention when we wrote the story. Not only did we want every episode to end with a WTF!! cliffhanger, we wanted each chapter to fly by like a train off its tracks. Because we designed our story after serialized television, the story beats resemble the lead to a commercial break more than anything else. But we don’t have commercials.
My favorite part of Yesterday’s Gone, by far, has been the characters. I love the premise, I think it’s super cool. I love what we’re doing with it now and where things are headed for Season Two. But the character work, well that was totally unexpected.
The characters are great and they’re connecting with readers, which I found surprising. I knew Dave and I could create great characters, we’ve done it before. Both ourselves and for clients. But we set out to write an awesome read, not create great characters. I’m extremely proud we did both.
Oni: The characters in Yesterday’s Gone are so unique and captivating. How are you able to create such great characters?
Sean: I guess because, even though I set out to write something that would read fast and maybe a little trashy, once I pour my heart into something, I really put my whole self into it. Dave, too.
He took 3 characters and I took 3 characters and we each wrote our own POV’s for the pilot. Then we blended them together. For the remaining 5 episodes we stuck with our own characters, then stitched their stories together.
All I started with was a premise, I knew what type of people I wanted to write, but they were merely broad strokes in my head. I never expected them to turn out as wonderfully fleshed out as they are. And I never saw the Boricio character coming!
Oni: I noticed Yesterday’s Gone is only available via eReader. Have you ever thought about also making it into a book? What is your reason for making it available only via eReader?
Sean: The full season is actually out now, for $4.99. Yes, it’s a great deal! The entire season will be available in print any day. But it’s a lot of work getting something to print with quality, and Dave and I aren’t willing to do anything that doesn’t measure up to traditional publishing standards, so it doesn’t make sense to release the episodes in print individually.
Besides, the story is designed for modern life and bite-size consumption on mobile devices such as the Kindle or iPad. It wouldn’t be the same experience reading the 100 page episodes in print. As a full book, it totally works, and I’m really looking forward to reading it that way myself. 🙂
Oni: Why do you think everybody should read Yesterday’s Gone?
Sean: Yesterday’s Gone might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you like Stephen King, fantastic, page-turning fiction in general, LOST, or stuff that starts out awesome and then keeps on being awesome from start to finish, you’ll probably love Yesterday’s Gone.
Even if you’re not a fiction reader, it’s definitely a title watch. It’s a great business model, with a cool stair-step funnel, and an intelligent way to make money online, that’s more permanent than many of the other fly-by-night, hunting for water in the desert strategies you see all too often.
Oni: Have you ever thought about a situation like in Yesterday’s Gone really happening? How will you feel in such a situation and what will you do?
Sean: Yeah, I think about post-apocalyptic stuff all the time. Along with time travel and alternative archaeology it’s one of my biggest writing fetishes. But I have no idea what I’d do if the world were to end tomorrow. Probably try to find all the ice cream, so I could eat myself sick before it melted. I’d be sad if there wasn’t electricity so I could watch movies, but I guess I’d finally have a chance to catch up on my reading!
Oni: Anything you want to leave the readers with?
Sean: Definitely! I’d love to show them the trailer. I think Dave did an incredible job. Most book trailers have a vibe that is supremely uncool and embarrassingly low budget. But Dave cut this trailer with a total cost of $17 and I think, dollar for dollar, is the best book trailer I’ve ever seen.
Beyond that, I’d love for readers to check it out. It’s only $.99 and it’s a ridiculously fast and fun read. Plus, I dare anyone to not secretly like Boricio, especially by season’s end.
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Oni: Thanks so much for the interview opportunity Sean! It’s really great to have you on here!
Sean: Thanks Oni, it’s been great! I look forward to dropping by again soon (and you still owe me a guest post!).