It’s no secret that I have planned to use the novella I’ve been writing as a marketing tool. I have had this blog for over three years now, and while I’ve built something of a following, it hasn’t been anything like the explosion I’ve had at my cooking blog Pots and Plots. Of course, sharing recipes appeals to a much wider swath of people than a blog about writing. As an author, I am an unknown. And that’s okay. I’ve slowly been building my online presence, which I think is a good thing, but I’m not going to see a huge increase in traffic, a big increase in name recognition without having something to appeal to people who aren’t writers themselves (and let’s face it, that’s who reads writers’ blogs, mostly). That something is, most logically, a sample of my work. More specifically, it is a story to draw readers into the series world I am creating and leave them wanting more.
Short stories would, of course, be a more economical use of my time–or would if I could write them. But I can’t. My brain doesn’t operate like that. I can’t think of a story that happens in that brief a span. My brain automatically fleshes it out into something longer, more complicated, with more characters. So the shortest option for me was novellas. A few other people I know have done the same. Zoe Winters recently offered up a blog post talking about her download numbers for Kept. Kerry Allen has also put out her novella Beyond the Darkening, which has done remarkably well, sans marketing, in the six months or so that it’s been out. Both of these talented women are doing the self-publishing thing, but the same principle can be put to work for those of us who still intend to publish via traditional means as a way to build an audience and more of a platform.
Some people might say that it’s not a good use of your time. It takes TIME to write a novella and edit it and get it into the kind of professional shape you want before release. And that’s true. But that’s one of the benefits about being an unpublished, unknown. I’ve got nothing but time. No deadlines but those I self-impose. I accepted last year that this is a long haul game. Even in best-case, pipe dream scenario, if Hunted in Shadow were accepted for publication tomorrow (which, of course, it won’t be, as it’s not even past first draft and certainly isn’t on submission), it would likely be 2 years before it comes out. That leaves me 2 whole years to build an audience for it. And I firmly think that the novella is the best way to do that. Give readers something free or cheap (I think I’ll be releasing it for $1 on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Sony, etc.), do a good job with it, and hopefully they’ll be interested enough to want to see more of the world that I’m creating. And I might make a little bit of money in the process. Yay for passive streams of income.
All that is to say that I have an inkling for another novella. Like my still untitled current project, it will be a prequel to HiS. There’s some broad scale metaplot stuff that I can set up quite nicely in the novellas that will be an ideal lead in to HiS. Of course, right now, all I have is a setting–a logical next step for what happens in the timeline after the end of the current novella. I’ve got no clue yet as to who the hero or heroine is or what happens at this big setting. But it’s something to chew on.