Introducing I Am Allegra Bartlett
Some people who have followed me for a few years may have heard tell of a Victorian serial I've been working on. I started it when I was finishing my PhD at the University of Sheffield in 2015, so it's had a long incubation period and I've wanted to "get it out there" for some time.
And why haven't I? Two reasons: fear and structure.
For some reason, the fear of publishing historical fiction is more acute than the fear of publishing something contemporary. There are plenty of people around to pick you up on facts if you get something wrong but, here's the thing, I'm writing historical fiction: it doesn't need to be based on true stories and real life to be a good read. More to the point, it needs to interesting to modern readers and tell a good story. I think I'm in that sphere if nothing else and my Victorian literature background sets me in decent stead for the rest.
So, what about the structure problem? Well, it'll probably come as no surprise to my readers than my serial has a lesbian main character and each "part" focuses on a self-contained story with threads running through the series. One of the golden rules of WLW fiction that you don't leave relationships hanging between books - and I couldn't guarantee that the natural stopping point of one book would meet that criteria.
I knew I'd end up upsetting a lot of people if I didn't find a way to do this properly, so going episodic seemed the right route. Besides, my serial builds on the legacy of Wilkie Collins, Mary Elizabeth Braddon and Charles Dickens (yes, I think a lot of myself), so releasing month-by-month was the perfect fit.
That's how I Am Allegra Bartlett has ended up being published via Ghost, a website and newsletter delivery service that will deposit each part along with bonus material straight into a reader's inbox.
Is there a fee? Yes, I'm afraid there is but I hope you'll agree it's a reasonable one.
For less than the price of a cup of specialty coffee, subscribers will receive an episode of Allegra and at least one piece of bonus material per month only for them. There's no locked-in period and readers can unsubscribe at any time. Theoretically, you could sign up for one month per year and read what's been published in the last 12 months, but I hope that people will recognise the value of what I'm doing and want to support it. There's also an annual subscription of £30 if you want to save some money and support me upfront.
Writers can only continue to create when readers support them. It isn't mercenary to be paid a small amount for the time I would otherwise spend on freelance work that pays a heck of a lot more, believe me. I write for the love of it, but I edit and polish and create the best possible stories I can thanks to the purchasing power of my readers.
There will be free content available to members who can't subscribe to the paid plan or are just planning on dipping in and out of it. Plus, there's a chance to try before you buy, with all content up until the middle of December free to read. In fact, the first paid instalment won't be up until January, so there's plenty of time to consider whether you're interested or not.
The first Letter of Introduction will be released on Wednesday 3rd November and there will further letters taking us all the way up to Wednesday 15th December when the first part is released. It's a definite case of getting to know Allegra before you subscribe!
I'll be back on this blog next week to explain a little more about I Am Allegra Bartlett and what to expect from the serial. In the meantime, follow the serial on Facebook or Twitter if that's your thing.