Two years ago I did my homework. I tried to find a unique niche I could put my stories into, and quickly found the big hole when it came to novellas. So, I ended the first Dying Days zombie book on a cliffhanger ending and stopped it at around 25,000 words. The original idea was about twice the length. It sold quite well, and still does in my opinion. Right now it’s only 99 cents, too.
Then I began writing nothing longer than 25k, getting novellas out into the world like a madman… but no longer pieces, unless you count short story collections. Which I don’t. But a funny thing happened along the way… please, allow me to explain…
I had a couple of Skype conversations with the wonderful Robert Chazz Chute, who is a wealth of information and also a cool guy to just chat and laugh with, one of the people on my list I hope to meet some day (Alyssa Milano is at the top of the list, btw), and we like to pick each other’s brains about stuff going on and what works now and what worked then, and where the hell we are going in order to stay afloat. We don’t do the negative All Is Lost talk, which I like. I’m negative enough. No, we talk about what each of us is doing to get sales and new readers.
One interesting subject was the length of our releases, and he is currently very high on serializing, which I dabbled in with Miami Spy Games to mixed results. But novella-length stories are not the wave of the future in my opinion. The readers want more… or less.
My feeling is there are two distinct camps of readers right now for me… your results will vary. Anyway, I have a nice rabid following for my short stories selling for 99 cents, like the Keyport Cthulhu stories (Ancient, for instance) but my novella sales have slipped. I think it is a combination of things, like Amazon devaluing anything priced under $3.99 and new readers having a hard time finding my work, but also the length of them being in the 25k range and at $2.99. I won’t jack the prices up to $3.99 unless I think it will attract new readers. I want there to be some value to my work in both length and price (and content, let’s be honest).
So, my immediate goal is to write longer pieces (50k or so) and short stories and shy away from novellas and see what happens. Will I succeed? Have I found the secret formula? Have I figured out the key to selling a million books, cash and new cars, Alyssa Milano calling me? As usual, I have no idea.
But I’m going to figure it out.