It has been well established by Lynn Viehl, J.A. Konrath, and others that giving away some of your work for free is a great way to garner readers and fans. Someone comes along and reads a short story or a novella or even a full length novel set in your world, their appetite is whet, and they go and pick up your real book. Obviously the freebie should be well written and exemplify your style. The whole point, after all, is to generate interest in the product that will earn you royalties, right? So that has always been on my list of things I wanted to do in order to market my work and build my platform. I want to generate interest in the world I’m creating.
I had thought that I’d do novellas, and I’ve sat down with a handful of ideas for what those novellas would be. But then it happened. The story grew. And grew. Until I knew it needed a full length novel to tell it. So I’ve got the kernel of an idea for the next 3 books in this series instead of novellas to write as freebies. I have an idea for a novella that will take place after HiS to give away (that’s barely a twinkle in my eye as yet), but for the most part, I haven’t been able to think of many short ideas. Part of it is that I just don’t think in simple plots that can be wrapped up in a short story or novella length. But part of it, I realized today, is that I always think in terms of romance. I felt like in whatever I put out there, I needed to be bringing two people together because that’s what I will be doing in my books.
And I had an epiphany.
I don’t have to write a full fledged romance in these freebie shorts. Full romance takes time and space to develop, and it’s not something I feel I can do believably in a short space. What I could do instead is simply write about other aspects of my world. I have a special forces group as part of my paranormal government. They have missions. I could write some of their missions. Show what they do, what they’re about. There are other things that I could write about to build interest in the world and expand upon it. It just wouldn’t necessarily involve romance. We might could see some “before” situations with future heroes or heroines. I just don’t know. The possibilities hadn’t ever occurred to me.
So what’s your preference? When you’re looking at a freebie from an author you’ve never read (or even for one you have), if that author wrote paranormal romance, would it tick you off if the short didn’t have romance, but was instead some other aspect of that paranormal world? Do you look for a compact version of everything that writer has to offer in her full length books? This inquiring mind wants to know. What do you like in your freebies?