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For the past two months I’ve been working on a fantasy novel, The Edge of Magic, and I’ve recently decided to serialize it on my site (reasons below).

The first three chapters are up. Every Friday from now on I’ll post an installment — one to three chapters, which comes to around 2,500–3,500 words per installment. On that page readers can also subscribe to updates via RSS or email.

I’ve released fiction on the web before, of course, but this is the first time I’ve done it without being able to edit the whole piece in advance. It’s terrifying. I do have an outline as a security blanket, and I’ve already written the first eight chapters, but writing a novel in public (more or less) makes me feel even more naked and vulnerable than I expected.

My main reason for doing this somewhat unprudent thing: I have a bad habit of endlessly tweaking the beginnings of my novels and never getting past that point. By putting the chapters online as I write them, I’ll feel forced to resist that urge and finish the book. A psychological gimmick, sure, but I think it’ll work.

The secondary reason: writers generally need to write a few bad novels before they can write good ones. While I hope The Edge of Magic isn’t too terrible, getting reader feedback earlier on — with analytics to see where people stop reading, etc. — will help me learn faster. Consider this an open beta.

Once the novel is finished, I’ll do another editing pass and put it on the Kindle store for a couple bucks, with the free version remaining available on my site as well. I plan to serialize another couple novels after that, then try my hand at the traditional publishing route. I’m not going to submit these serialized novels to any publishers, though, since they’ll have already been published.

Whew. To be honest, I’m still surprised I’m actually moving forward with this — the past few weeks have been a blur of incessant insecurities and fears. But sometimes scary risks are good for the soul. Here we go…