The Writer's Mailbag: Installment Twenty-Two
I’m sorry, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to borrow a line from “The Shining.”
Welcome back to The Writer’s Mailbag. You ask, I answer, and hopefully we all gain something from the experience.
My goodness, I’ve been doing this series for five months now. Who would have guessed it would go on this long? Certainly not me, which goes to show how little I know about this business. Oops, maybe I shouldn’t have said that. I don’t want you thinking I’m less-than-brilliant. Oops, too late for that as well.
I think we better just start in on the questions before I make a bigger fool of myself.
Using Short Stories for a Higher Purpose
From Jo: “I've been looking at some of my short stories and started thinking about the possibility of working some of them into a story I'm attempting to write. Could merging existing stories into a completely new one be a recipe for disaster, or do you think there's a chance that this may actually work? Alternatively, I could write a few more short stories and publish them as stand alone stories for outlets such as Kindle.”
Well, Jo, I know for a fact it would work and not be a disaster, because I did it in my latest novel, “Resurrecting Tobias.” In fact, the idea for that novel came from similar thinking.
About a year ago, my wife was lamenting the fact that many of my social commentary articles languish on the internet, and she was wondering if there was any way to work them into a book. A novel was born. I pictured a writer who reads his works in coffee shops, and then built a story around him.
So yes, it can be done and done effectively.
As for the second part of your question, I can also see using those “stand alone” stories as novellas on Kindle and selling them for ninety-nine cents each, but I think this is a riskier option just because I have less faith in mini-ebooks.
Releasing a Series of Books
From Reynold Jay: “I decided to go back and read more of your Mailbag Hubs. If you have answered such a question, send me to the proper HUB. Here is my question. I will eventually have 8 children's/adult series to release. If I end up on Amazon without a big publisher, what comes to mind for releasing the series? I'm getting opinions on this from other pros and I hope I can figure out the best approach. In all there will be 40 books involved as there will be full color, sketch editions, parchment editions and color books. Each book will have 3 editions for 4-8, 9-12 and 12- adult age level. This is an ambitious project that involves a staff of artists working 2 years to do the art. Any thoughts?
I'm wondering about the timing of the release of the books. I would bet there may be a business model or study that would indicate the manner of releasing the books. All at once? Several to start and then the others a month apart etc. Maybe your readers have suggestions too. Let's consider the books 1-8 and assume the collector's books would be released at the same ( or nearly) time as the matching book. In other words All versions of book one might be released at same time. I suspect that the proper model for timing the release may very well make a major difference in the volume of sales. There is much more to it, of course, but this is really the driving question.”
Wow! Talk about an ambitious project! This one makes my almost-finished novel look a little weak by comparison.
I answered this question a couple days ago in the comment section of that article, and then I thought about it a few days….and today my answer is the same. I would release the first edition of all three age groups, then a couple months down the road, the second edition to all three age groups, then several months later the third edition in all three. Why? I have no idea. It just makes sense to me to do it that way.
Publishing Options For Novellas
From Brian: I have started work on revising a novel. It was about 51,000 words long. I am taking out unnecessary details that are a drag on the forward movement of the story. I expect to reduce it from short novel length (which few publishers want) to novella length (which fewer publishers want). Aside from self-publishing platforms, such as ebooks, do you know of markets for novellas, that is, markets that pay either a royalty or a flat sum and that require the quality imprimatur of an editor? I know about Narrative Magazine. Do you know of other markets for novellas and short novels? Or should I resign myself to self-publishing an ebook? Or?
Well, Brian is right about one thing: the market for novellas is a small one, but it does exist. Check out these options:
- Alaska Quarterly Review
- A Public Space
- Big Fiction Magazine
- Carpe Articulum Novella Contest
- The Collagist
- Drue Heinz Literature Prize
- Gettysburg Review
- Glimmer Train
- Miami University Press Novella Contest
- Novella Project
- Paris Review
- Ploughshares Solos
- Qualtro Books
- Seattle Review
- Southern Humanities Review
- Texas Review.
Some of those are contests; some are anthologies. Having said all that, I would expand your novella into a novel for the best chance of being published by an established publishing firm.
From Sandra: Perhaps you've answered the question already but perhaps for a future question some tips for marketing ideas that work as opposed to those that are a waste of time.
This is a tough question only because what works for one writer may not necessarily work for others. I can say social media, but I know writers who get nothing out of social media.
I am a big believer in the old-fashioned approach of face-to-face marketing. Book signings, book readings, getting to know book store owners, pressing the flesh and letting the reading public know you as a real human being….and then allowing word-of-mouth to be your best advertisement. I just went to a book-reading group meeting last night. I didn’t sell a darned thing, but I planted some seeds.
From Bradmaster: A question just popped into my mind.
How would you compare Edgar Allan Poe, with Stephen Kings, and let’s throw in Machievelli.
It is interesting to me because all three of them are out of the box, and they all know the dark side of humans. In that respect King might be different because his focus is not on the people.
Feel free to disregard this question. It won't hurt my feelings at all.
No, Brad, I won’t disregard your question. I wouldn’t think of it.
For me, this is an impossible question. I guess you could say they all dabble in the Dark Side, but they are also very different writers in style. Since I didn’t know any of them personally, there isn’t much I can do in that area of discussion. It would be fascinating to sit in a room with all three of them and find out if they wrote about the dark side because that was their nature, or they just wrote about it because they enjoyed writing about it. My latest novel is definitely dark, but that doesn’t mean I’m dark. I just wanted to try something that felt gloomy and threatening.
I don’t know how many of you have read anything by John Fowles, but he wrote a book called “The French Lieutenant’s Woman”, a period piece that was definitely not dark, but then the book before that was “The Collector,” and that was most definitely darkness in words.
Anyway, I’m rambling and no, I can’t compare the three writers. J
And That Brings Us to the End
Really great questions this week, and really adequate answers from yours truly.
I hope you enjoyed this installment. The questions are still coming in, so I’ll see you next Monday, same time, same place.
Until then, write like your tail feathers are on fire, and have a great week.
2014 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”