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General > Rinse and repeat. Are multiple titles the key to success?

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Tara Woods Turner | 63 comments Is having a back catalog of titles the key to author success? Many writers report a boost in one title when they introduce or promote another title. Do readers reward continuity or do other factors account for this? Should we all be publishing novellas, prequels and sequels?


message 2: by Segilola (new)

Segilola Salami (segilolasalami) | 27 comments going from a statistical point of view, the more books you have, the greater the chances of being found I think. A concentration of 8 in 10 is stronger than that of 1 in 10


Tara Woods Turner | 63 comments Very true. I think flash fiction and novellas are helpful for this very reason.
http://derekjcanyon.blogspot.com/2011...


message 4: by Segilola (new)

Segilola Salami (segilolasalami) | 27 comments yes and no

as a reader, I absolutely hated books that were less than 100 pages and hated even more books that had a lot of fluff just to fill the pages

I think it is best to just write the best books that you can write and not simply to just up the number of books in one's portfolio.

writing should be looked at as a long term endeavour


Tara Woods Turner | 63 comments But isn't the rise of the novella a reflection of current readers' tastes? If so should we learn to embrace the style? A well written novella or flash fiction piece is an art form - shorter than a novel and longer than a short story but encompassing the tight focus and brilliance of both styles.


message 6: by Segilola (new)

Segilola Salami (segilolasalami) | 27 comments I think of flash fiction as less than 1000 words . . . that should be a blog post and definitely not a paid for book. but maybe I'm a bit tight fisted.

there are lots of blog posts where the blogger writes short stories that one can easily follow without much ado and for me as a reader, I would rather follow those.

when I go to get an ebook, I am looking for something I can get lost in

I read somewhere that you should write what you would like to read, not necessarily what is in vogue


Tara Woods Turner | 63 comments I think it boils down to knowing your target audience. Many readers really get into the flash fiction and novellas, with units being sold at the $0.99 or free mark. Lots of authors rely on novellas to entice new readers to check out their back catalogue - usually offering it for free. Other writers have built a solid reputation on their short works and supply loyal readers with them on a regular basis.

Like you, sometimes I want to curl up with a long, engrossing book. At other times I am quite intrigued and stimulated by the level of skill necessary to pull off a killer short.


Anthologies don't seem to do so well unless the author is well known. Here's an interesting article on the popularity of shorter works in the kindle market: http://www.lindsayburoker.com/e-publi...


message 8: by Segilola (new)

Segilola Salami (segilolasalami) | 27 comments not just target audience, there are lots of other considerations.

from the link you gave, one of the comments was that short stories are better suited as singles rather than part of a series. as a reader, I would be very upset if I read a short story to find out it was part of a series. in fact I have been in the past.

trends change and the link is from 5 years ago. are the results still the same today?

personally, as an author, irrespective of the type of book, a question one needs to ask is "why should a reader care about my book?" are you writing to make money or because you have a story to tell? if you are writing to make money, there are considerably easier ways to do so. if you are writing because you have a story to tell, then write how the story needs to be told and not worry about length. also, because action A has worked for person X doesn't mean it would work for person Y. there are lots of novellas out there but not ALL of them have found success.

there's a whole lot more that goes in that is beyond the number of titles one has or the type of book it is

If you remember my interview with Evan Pickering, it took him 11 years to become an overnight success. He's been building his author platform in all that time and prepping his book to be the best that he possibly could make it.

I think the key to success. amongst a lot of other things, is first of all networking and building your author platform then continuing to write. it doesn't have to be a short story, although a short story is fine if the story is meant to be a short story, not necessarily writing a short story for the sake of it


Tara Woods Turner | 63 comments Good points although our points are not mutually exclusive. As I said, it boils down to knowing your readers, knowing your demographic and knowing what they want. As for being part of a series, the best shorts function independently. Great examples are 'The Jester' by Michael J. Sullivan and 'The Hospital' by Keith C. Blackmore, both brilliantly written and credited with pulling in lots of new readers for the authors.

Also, for the sake of clarity, I think having a back catalog is the key to sustained indie author success, not whether or not they write shorts. I think this was not clear from my op.

Shorts have always appealed to certain readers and always will. So I do think it is interesting and worthwhile for authors to at least consider whether or not they can benefit from them and if so, in what ways.


message 10: by Segilola (new)

Segilola Salami (segilolasalami) | 27 comments last question, as it is wayyyyyyyyyyyy past my bedtime: do you write for an audience or do you write because you have something to say?


Tara Woods Turner | 63 comments For me it's both. As a non-fiction writer I have something specific to say to specific people. When I finally get around to my fiction it will be me sharing my tales and hoping/experimenting until I find readers who are interested in what I have to say.


Tara Woods Turner | 63 comments PS - Good night :)


message 13: by Zee (new)

Zee Monodee (zee_monodee) | 17 comments To me, it isn't really that a big backlist brings you more readers. It's in the sales, pretty much. Say you have one book, selling 10 copies a month. Then you have 2 books, selling 10 copies each...and so on with one of your backlist added in. This makes up a nice number, even if new readers aren't coming to your books in droves, it's a sort of 'slow and steady wins the race' kinda deal for me.
However, I have seen upticks in sales once a series is out in full. Series seem to sell, BUT they'd better be stand-alone stories, especially in the world of contemporary romance. Series with cliffhangers seem to work better with Urban Fantasy or Paranormal, but there too, you need to be pushing material fairly quickly so you keep the readers hungry but not to the point where they get so hungry they'd eat you out of spite of not getting your book yet, LOL.


message 14: by Alex (new)

Alex (asato) Tara wrote: "it boils down to knowing your readers, knowing your demographic and knowing what they want."

Zee wrote: "Series seem to sell, BUT they'd better be stand-alone stories, especially in the world of contemporary romance. Series with cliffhangers seem to work better with Urban Fantasy or Paranormal, but there too, you need to be pushing material fairly quickly so you keep the readers hungry..."

good points about genre differences and knowing your market. a published novelist friend of mine in paranormal romance said 1 novel/mo; otherwise, your readers could very well get hooked on something else and forget about you. romance readers are a voracious lot.

Segilola wrote: "I think the key to success. amongst a lot of other things, is first of all networking and building your author platform then continuing to write."

lots of good points in general about successfully marketing your writing, but it does seem that most of us are in agreement that a backlist is one component of more sales.

publishers in general think that series sell better than standalone works. from a writer's perspective--especially in sci-fi and fantasy--it's more efficient b/c of the extensive world-building. for some readers, a series can become like a drug addiction; even a trope can be so entrancing to someone that it's all they read for a while. (i was on an anime binge for two years. & even to this day, any military sci-fi has to be absolutely incoherent for me to DNF it.)

Tara wrote: "But isn't the rise of the novella a reflection of current readers' tastes? If so should we learn to embrace the style? A well written novella or flash fiction piece is an art form - shorter than a novel and longer than a short story but encompassing the tight focus and brilliance of both styles."

gotta adapt. it's not like writers haven't before. interestingly, charles dickens serialized many of his novels to much success. in some ways, a novella (17.5 - 40k words), novelette (7500-17.5w), short story (1500-7500w), flash fiction (<1500w) would be accessible to a broader audience in that they take less time to read. at an average reading rate of 250w/min, a 40k novella would take 2 hrs 40min. a movie is 2 hrs. there's a lot of competition for a reader's attention--like GR and other social media--so, perhaps shorter is more marketable. perhaps, packaging the shorts into a "novel" length would overcome the price barrier (although Tara said that $0.99 is a marketable price, you'd still only get $0.33 of that at amazon rates).


Tara Woods Turner | 63 comments Alex
Your number crunching never ceases to fascinate me.

Were I writing fiction I would shoot for two loosely connected story arcs. Each arc would have at least three titles in the series accompanied by one free pre-quel novella written to entice new readers and reward loyal ones. Or the free novella would serve as a test to see if reader response is in favor of a new arc or lukewarm to it. All titles, regardless, would be stand alone. If I were successful I would just keep repeating this system.


message 16: by Alex (last edited Jun 18, 2016 10:23AM) (new)

Alex (asato) Tara wrote: "I would shoot for two loosely connected story arcs. Each arc would have at least three titles in the series accompanied by one free pre-quel novella written to entice new readers and reward loyal ones. Or the free novella would serve as a test to see if reader response is in favor of a new arc or lukewarm to it. All titles, regardless, would be stand alone."

that is a good idea. i suppose there are a number of ways to slice it depending on what material you have available and what takes off. i have a 50k prequel to my 70k novel already written but it needs a lot of TLC. i could cull it down to a novella or a short story.

(here's more fascinating #s)

full-length novel works pull in the money more than shorts. at the going rate of $.06/word for SF&F shorts and let's say it takes you a month to write one if you have a f/t job, then that's $450/7500w-short-story. reprint rates are typically $0.01w, but the rights clause seems to be about a 6-mo-exclusivity contract. so you wouldn't be able to get your $75 recurring unit revenue until that time and then you have to take the time to submit to those other markets.

let's say you have your book at $3.99, then you get about $2.67 at the amazon 70%-royalty rate. so, to hit $450, then you need to sell 165.5 units.

but wait, i just said that a novel brings in more money than a short. i did really mean it. it wasn't a straw man. but, now it seems that there's a break-even point b/w a novel and a short.

but hey, wait a sec. there's another market for shorts, patreon.com. N K Jemisin--a very well-known and award-winning SF&F author--just started her patreon system a few weeks ago and in aggregate fans are willing to pay her $4,745/mo to provide them w/a draft chapter or short story and a Q&A video.

the fans of Kameron Hurley--another well-known and award-winning SF&F author (who has had her patreon system up for longer than Jemisin)--are willing to pay her $6,474 ($2,158/mo*3) every 3 months for a novellete (8-12k words), videos, and a whole slew of other extra add-ons (much of which would hold value for fans).

so now, at $6,474/novella, to make the same amount for a novel, you'd need to sell 2,424 units; for $4,745/short story, you'd need to sell 1,777 copies of a novel.

well, i kind of went off on a tangent there, but i did some interesting calculations and come up w/some interesting results.

in summary, the market for shorts--in SF&F particular, which is were my writing interests lie (it could be different for other genres; romance comes to mind)--seems like it could be on par w/novel sales in the hundreds to low thousands. bear in mind that my 2 patreon examples are the more successful ones.


message 17: by Segilola (new)

Segilola Salami (segilolasalami) | 27 comments the thing though is how does that work for a newbie author without fans?


message 18: by Alex (new)

Alex (asato) Segilola wrote: "the thing though is how does that work for a newbie author without fans?"

that is a valid point.

i mainly see the differences in publishing shorts vs. novels in time to market and improving skills.

(here, we're talking about selling, so i won't go into the improving skills discussion.)

i've had only 2 of 2 rejections from SF&F short markets, so that is not much to go on--nor much really to speak of; i plan on submitting more--but it is the same as submitting a novel to a traditional publisher in that you are submitting to editors who evaluate your work; however, the main difference is in the time invested in the short work and the turnaround time. it takes me about a month to write a final short story. for shorts, the turnaround time is quoted as typically less than 2 months, but for me has been less than 2 weeks (of course, it takes less time to reject than to accept a work).

for an interaction-enabling publishing web platform like patreon, kickstarter, wattpad (and inkitt (sp?) to some degree), the challenges of publishing on them vs amazon are the same; however, in addition to more flexibility in product packaging (finished books vs. books (both finished and drafts) + video + live feeds + swag), the number of users and writers is smaller than amazon, so you might be able to get more traction there and the feedback is faster and more direct than amazon.


message 19: by Segilola (new)

Segilola Salami (segilolasalami) | 27 comments what do you think about tablo?


message 20: by Alex (new)

Alex (asato) Segilola wrote: "what do you think about tablo?"

i haven't heard of them. i assume they're a publishing platform, correct? what do they provide? how many users do they have? is it free? are they like wattpad wherein everything is for free, including your writing? or are they like patreon, where people support you and patreon gets a commission (5%)? or are they like inkitt, where they have agreements w/other distributors and publishers?


message 21: by Segilola (new)

Segilola Salami (segilolasalami) | 27 comments similar to wattpad I think, you can post your WIP

People can follow the progress of your story. Sadly, it doesn't tell you who they are specifically, if they are registered users.


Tara Woods Turner | 63 comments Is it just story sharing or do they pay to read you? My 12 year old niece has just started designing her own wattpad covers. Maybe I should see what they're about.


message 23: by Segilola (new)

Segilola Salami (segilolasalami) | 27 comments I think there's the possibility of publishing with them but I haven't looked into it well yet


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