Yesterday, I watched a morning news segment highlighting a couple who were about to lose their house due to foreclosure and how publishing and selling their books on Amazon had saved them. The authors went on to explain that they write romance novels together and once they realized the popularity of the genre due to the success of Fifty Shades of Gray, wrote feverishly producing more than twenty novels in six months. Quite a feat, I might add.
Consumed with a mix of curiosity, admiration, and jealousy I delved further into this story and researched the books this couple had published. What I discovered may have just changed how I perceive the future of books and writing and how to make a living at the craft.
Turns out that most of these romance “novels” are merely glorified short stories. Several averaged around forty or fifty pages in length with the shortest at seventeen pages and the longest running about 150 pages. I clicked on each one and saw its rank. Most were in the low thousands which I’ll admit is pretty darn good if you’ve got income coming from twenty books. All their books had dozens of reviews and many were favorable, although several did state that there were grammatical and spelling errors throughout the pages.
The last thing I did was read samples of each book even though I don’t normally read romance. And you know what? They were quite good. The books had quick hooks and engaged me right away. The end of the samples left me wanting to know more. So, what am I to make of these mini “novels” by so-called “authors”?
I believe they may be the wave of the future.
The indie revolution in publishing has opened a floodgate for writers and readers allowing experimental stories and characters to be published in forms that were never available before. There is no longer a minimum requirement for anything when it comes to publishing. These short romance novellas that these two authors are getting rich writing would never have been tolerated by an agency or publisher just five years ago. No longer does an author need to work for years to meet the 80,000 word minimum requirement to classify a book as a novel. A talented writer can pump out a 15,000 word masterpiece and have it available for sale in a few weeks (and make a fortune) as long as the plot is engaging.
So, what does this mean to the future of bookselling? Are these “pop” novels that take just a few weeks to write and a few hours to read really going to take over the literary marketplace and drive away the 300,000 word behemoths? I don’t think so. But I also believe that writing short, interesting, exciting books, and selling them for cheap can build a pretty strong following pretty fast. And writing these books in series could be very profitable.
If the general public can lose the stigma that a good book has to be such and such length and contain so many twists and turns and that incredible stories come in all lengths and with all kinds of characters, they will discover a whole new enjoyable reading experience with these “pop” novels.
I'm currently writing book one of a romance trilogy and plan for them to be 50-60k words (shorter than my other series). I admit the main reason is to get them on the market for income. I plan for them to be good (I hope) and well edited, and not so short that readers feel cheated. Since they are shorter, I doubt I'll go beyod $2.99 each. If my current following doesn't go for them (it's a pen that I am making my current fans aware of) then I'll drop book one to 99 cents or do a fre epromo once the other 2 are on the market. I'd like to get all 3 out this year, plus the final in my horror series.
Thanks for sharing this info!
edited to add: It's not that I want to get rich...just help support the fmaily, maybe set aside college money for the kids.
I agree Neil. I've already planned to write two shorter sequels to my novel of 50,000 words. The sequels will be around 20K words each and will form a trilogy. I will probably still price them at the same level as book one, with a cut if they buy the box set. I agree, this is a money-making decision and it also means that the turnaround will be much quicker on each story. It's an experiment and I can't wait to see what happens next.
I would only caution anyone reading this thread who's thinking "Great! Easy money!" that it's not, of course.
I write only shorts, and I have done well over the last few months. But you have to be careful---it's easy to look at the trends and try and imitate them. I did one experiment in which I did exactly that, and the writing wasn't bad, in fact, but I did cheese off some readers and I know it perfectly well because I didn't give them what they were used to. (I'm always, foolishly, trying to be original. I could kick myself for it).
I have since learned to do more thorough research and, that if I want to sell, I have to follow a certain structure and pattern. Funnily enough, having said that, my best seller at the moment is 18 pages and totally out there whacky, depraved even. It's in the top 20 in two categories. But it's a fluke and I have no idea why it does so well. By the way, it's also $2.99, and no one EVER complains about the price.
No one reading this should think, any more than ever, that this is a get rich quick scheme. Jasinda Wilder (the author mentioned in the original post) was another anomaly; her first book sold about 500 copies on day one. She had one of those blessed events in which the stars aligned and she's done great, and good for her.
I have a fear that the market will become even more saturated, now with short works, and that it will just be counter-productive since suddenly there are millions of them to choose from. Pay as much attention to your audience and your quality as ever, and don't skimp just because the works are short. Editing, cover, presentation are still key. I'm still learning, but I now have a far better idea of what works than I did a few months back. A short work is quicker to write but it's wickedly important to keep up quality if you wish to sustain a following.
Why do you refer to them as "so-called" authors? Authors of short books aren't really authors??
I don't know if this is what was meant, but I would say 'so-called authors' if they have never thought of writing before. I also do not trust that anyone can really put their mind to something like this, especially if they do not have the initial drive, at a time when they have so many worries. A UK MP called Jeffrey Archer was about to go bankrupt some years ago and wrote a bestseller which saved him. Of course, being an MP he had a back door into publishing houses, and it turns out he cannot even string a sentence together himself, just supplied the ideas and knowledge of parliament for a ghost writer and still does for all I know.
I have to say while I wish this couple good luck, I do not approve of the 50 Shades of Grey type of trash making a lot of money, while people with a talent for writing languish on the sidelines. I do not say that because it is all flesh and nothing else; I say it because of the many awful reviews telling how badly written it is.
Jasinda Wilder was never your typical newbie author.
She (or they) made sure the books were properly edited, had professional covers, and in many cases had print as well as ebook versions. This sort of planning made the books stand out from the beginning. Of course it didn't hurt that steamy romance is a very popular genre.
I'm not sure I could write steamy romance to save my life. I'd start getting sarcastic halfway through. Ol' Jasinda however found something that she (they?) could make work.
I'm 30,000 words into my current WIP and have reached a clear break in the story, it wasn't planned, it just happened as the story evolved. It's the first draft so it will be 35-40k words by the time I go through it again as there are areas I have marked where I need to add to the descriptions. As I have another project I have to concentrate on during the coming months it is likely to be towards the end of the year before I have time to finish 'part 2' and I am reluctant to wait that long before publishing and so I was considering whether I should go ahead and release it as 'part one' (after the usual checks) and publish part 2 at the end of the year . As well as releasing part 2 as a stand along I can also combine them to make a full length novel for those who prefer that (clearly marked to avoid confusion for folks who might have already bought part 1) .
I was hesitant about it, but I think your words of wisdom have helped me make my decision, thanks!
Why do you refer to them as "so-called" authors? Authors of short books aren't really authors??
We are all authors. If a short book have someone's name on it and they get royalties for these writings they are authors. Short writings are enjoyable and very informative. To others they may be pamphlets, but to other people they are great writings.
Authors like myself might not be as famous as the others that create scripts for movies, but we do share great information out there for others to read. Another thing too is that writing can be done in any way. Writing is not perfect. Words can be read in many ways. If this had to be perfect then there wouldn't be any poetry at all.
Congratulations to all of those authors like myself that is given an opportunity to share our work here today. It's such a great opportunity to share our work with the world today through self publishing. I have hard cover books as well.
When I read stories of people sharing their work with the world it's such an inspiration. All I want to do is say congratulations to all of them, because people are finally achieving their dream to write stories. These stories may not mean anything to others, but for all of us that have been criticized and kicked around it means the world.