I’ll be honest: even at 99¢, my novella never sold as well as my novels. (At free, of course, it soundly beats them in numbers.) While lots of people out there are very excited about the apparent revival of shorter or mid-length fiction in the e-reader revolution, I’m still skeptical. I wrote my first novella because I wanted to be able to launch with more than one book, and because I wanted to be able to give away a freebie.
Um, that sounds pretty mercenary of me.
It’s worked, however—to an extent. I’ve given away thousands of copies of Mr. Nice Spy. Obviously I don’t know how many of those free books have actually been read, and what fraction of those readers went on to buy my novels, but . . . it hasn’t seemed like a ton have.
So why did I bother writing another novella?
I almost didn’t.
But the story really intrigued me. As soon as I knew what type of circumstances Elliott and Talia met under, I wanted to know the full story. Because it sounded like fun. I desperately needed fun.
So I blocked out some time—crazy short time— and sat down. And the story just flowed.
I’m a plotter by nature, but I went really really loose for this outline. Like, “In chapter 4, we have a chase of some kind. Or not.” And yet with such a short piece, the threads came together really quickly. Within just a few days, I had a really solid first draft—and possibly my best-ever spy plot.
Another advantage? Editing is so fast. You can change major story elements just by editing a few scenes. You can hold the whole story in your head really easily and jump around as needed. Beta readers get back to you super fast. Proofreading takes one morning.
As an indie publisher, I get to set my production schedule, and I set the bar too high last year (and quite possibly again this year). And yet I still managed to squeeze in this story in a day here and a weekend there.
Will I write another novella? I have one more prequel novella bouncing around in my brain, and now I think it really needs to be shared. But only if I can have fun with it 😉 .
What do you think? Have you ever written a novella? Why or why not?