Saturday, March 23, 2013

Episodic Novellas Great for eReaders

Just over a year ago I noted that serial novels might be experiencing a resurgence. Even then, Hugh Howey's series of stories that became Wool was a shining example of such an approach (even though he said it was really an accidental way to write his NY Times Bestseller!). Of course, Stephen King did it with The Green Mile in the '90s. And someone named Charles Dickens tried it a few times before that.

With the ubiquitous ereader, however, snack-sized novellas seem to be a perfect fit for on-the-go fans of fiction. A good novella (anywhere from about 15,000 to 40,000 words) can be consumed within an hour or two, providing an afternoon of enjoyment for the price of a coffee. Then, if you like the storyline, you're just one click away from purchasing the next in the series. A great boon for binge readers who, when they find new-to-them authors, have to catch up on that backlist of stories immediately.

What's cool is that new-to-the-world indie writers often give away their first story within a series for free. This provides a no-risk opportunity for readers to try something from someone they've never heard of before. It happened that way with me. I was fortunate enough to be introduced to Simon Kewin when I joined the SpecFic Authors Collective, a co-op of four writers who give away free stories each month. I'd never heard of him or read anything by him. My first taste was The Genehunter #1 - The Wrong Tom Jacks. Here's a link to my review at Goodreads.

And here's what I said in reviewing novella #2: That this 5-part novel "could be the next SF indie hit since Hugh Howey's post-apocalypse Silo saga, Wool." I'm no Jeane Dixon, but Kewin's first installment (as of this blogging) is #39 in the cyberpunk category at Amazon. Tres cool. Get them now while they're still cheap, because once these stories are compiled into an omnibus and get picked up by a major publisher, you can brag that you have the original on your ereader. Just saying.


  1. I agree, but I'd ask people to be careful. I've seen some novellas that were attempts to get people to pay a lot for what essentially is a single, poorly structured novel. I also start to balk at any series that hits 7+ books.

    Some people also try to make a novella a very short novel, and pack too much into each episode. Like too many characters. I do like novellas, and I'll buy them easily as an intro to other people's work or as stand alone works. But they have their own perils.

    Wool though, man he is doing well. I need to read that at some point. It's interesting too how Stephen King foresaw this with the Green Mile. Maybe if he did it later, it would have worked better.

  2. Thanks for the post, Lyn. You say some very nice things. I'm thrilled you like the Genehunter stories so much. I take dmdutcher's point, too. I think each novella/novelette needs to stand alone as a complete story. I made sure I did this, while also having an overarching thread running throughout.

  3. I agree, of course...given my own use of episodic novellas (as well as novels and short stories). ;-)

    Now if I can just get these latest ones finished...

  4. Great comments all, and some good words of caution. Yeah, novellas are stand alones but if connected to an overall plot can be bundled into a nice novel. 5 is my max too, I think (that I'd want to pay for - at 99 cents, that's 5 bucks, a good price for a novel).

    I'm reading another good sf/fantasy series called Voyage by Zachary Bonelli, but it is definitely an ongoing series. And from the author's site, it looks like there are 14 episodes in the first collection and then 4 more collections planned. Great concept, but not sure if fans will stick with 50 to 70 stories.


Keep it clean and positive. (And sorry about the word verification, but the spmb*ts are out in full force!)