Friday, August 30, 2013

Self Publishing Tips And Tricks -- Using Novellas To Grow Your Audience

For the longest time, novellas have gotten the short shift in literature.  Traditional publishers found it cost prohibitive to put out 60-100 page books.  But in the age of ebooks, that has all changed.  Now publishing novellas can be both lucrative and a quick way to build an audience.
Novel writing is a long process.  Depending on the length of your book and the speed you write at, it can take anywhere between 3 months and 3 years to put out a new novel.  But just because you finish a novel doesn't mean you can find anyone to buy it.  And just say your novel finds either no audience or a limited one.  The prospect of putting out book two becomes even more daunting.
That's where novellas come in.  At roughly 60-100 pages, novellas are much easier to write.  In the same time it takes you to write 1 full novel, you could put out 2-6 novellas.  And if those novellas are part of a series, you can be quickly growing your audience, getting closer and closer to reaching a critical mass.
The allure of novellas is simple.  They're short enough to be read in one sitting, yet long enough to provide a satisfying story.

So how do you write a novella?

The easiest comparison is to look at your favorite TV series.  Each novella would be the equivalent of an hour long episode.  And whereas a novel has both the main story with a number of subplots, novellas tend to focus on just the main drama--or romance--or thread of action.  Keep it lean.  Get right to the point.  Then get out.  Just like novels though, novellas are the most effective when they are part of a series.  That way you can deepen the characters and flesh out the world with every subsequent book.

How will writing a series of novellas grow my audience?

The main hurdle keeping an author from sales is the fact that they haven't been discovered.  It's hard for readers to buy your books if they have no idea who you are.  Writing novellas can help with this though.
* First, the fact that they are shorter means you can write them quicker.  The more books you have out, the more likely a reader will be to stumble onto your work.
*Also, if you can write two novellas in a short amount of time, you can make the first book permafree with a link in the back to sign up for your mailing list, thus building your fanbase.
*The more books you have out in a series, the more you can experiment with categories.  Just say you have 4 novellas in a series--that means you have as many as 8 potential categories to put your books in.  This is crucial.  A lot of people only search books in their favorite category--whether sci fi, fantasy, horror, or romance.  But by fanning out your categories, you can get eyeballs to your book that would be hard to grab otherwise.  --Note:  I am not advocating putting your books into categories that they don't belong.  That's the best way to get a series of 1 star reviews.  But given how Barnes & Noble allows you up to 5 categories while Amazon only allows you 2, most books can fit safely into as many as 5 categories.
*With Amazon especially, the first 30 days are crucial.  That hot new release window is when you get maximum exposure.  Now depending on how quickly you write, you can feasibly have a new title out every 1-2 months, allowing you to nearly always have a book on the new release list.
*Writing a lot of content gives you the opportunity to create boxed sets.  When you reach three novellas in your series, you can bundle them up not only giving you a new release, but also the opportunity to sell your book for three, four, or even five ninety-nine.  Then you can create another boxed set when you reach five or six titles, followed by a mega six book boxed set, etc...

The potential to make good money on novellas is there, but you don't know until you try.  So as always, get writing.

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