Utilizing “stagger promotion,” Heppner has released each novella along with hype for the next one, and building momentum, readership, and press along the road. Each part in the series has taken a different medium (released online, left at random locations nationwide, and as a published book), and readers don’t know how the next one will take shape. Heppner is exploring options for Talking—his 4th novella, coming out March 1—but would like to keep it text-based.
The four novellas aren't related by narrative and can be read in any order, “but all are concerned with bridging the divide between people who write fiction and those who read it" according to his site. The first in the series, Talking Man, was published in September ’08 by Small Anchor Press, which specializes in limited-edition chapbooks. “The Making of Talking Man,” interviews between SAP editor Jen Hyde and Heppner, follows the novella’s evolution. Man Talking, the third novella (also the first to come out) was “self-released,” as Heppner terms it, last April via his website, where it remains free to download (and has been—over 3,000 times). He doesn’t consider Man Talking as published but rather as “presented to readers.” He believes to be published means to go beyond self-editing.
Half way through his third novella, Heppner realized it wasn’t sellable due to its length. He entertained others ways to release it—from a marathon reading to the Radiohead route, seeing what readers would offer to pay. Considering the novella “a hybrid between a story and a writer’s manual,” he decided it would be “apropos” for an author’s site (which he happened to be creating at the time).
In my next and last installment, Heppner discusses his views on self-publishing and we take a look at the response to Man.