Publishing continues to change and shift and the length and style of books continues to do the same. Writers are not held to one length or one contract anymore. We can publish what’s right for us right here and right now.
Readers have asked me over the years why don’t I write longer. I get reviews and emails saying, man I wish this or that story was longer. So, because I am in this reboot of Lissa Matthews so to speak, I thought I’d answer this question, because I don’t see me changing the length I write too drastically in the near future. It could happen, but until then, here are my …
Time … Writing novella was a conscious choice for me. I wanted to write shorter than full length. It doesn’t take 30 forevers to write a novella. My sweet spot is between 25,000 and 40,000 words. I have plenty that are under 22,000 words and a few that are over 41,000 words. I write where the story takes me. I write what the story in my head is meant to be. I write what is necessary for me to tell through the characters eyes. Not every story is meant to be 50,000, 75,000, or 120,000 words. It doesn’t take you that long to read, either. And everyone, readers and writers, our time is precious and ever more limited and distracted. But don’t take that to mean the story isn’t important, it is. Its very important. Each one is saying something, showing me and you something, pulling us in to a different life for a moment. You can read one of my novellas and escape for a few hours and then get back to your life and the things you need to get accomplished. Time is valuable. There aren’t enough hours in our days. Most of us, even if we had an extra 6 hours would still need more. I love novellas for this reason. I can read a book, get involved, get finished and get back to my day. It allows me a little fantasy in the midst of reality. I’ve been reading a lot of full length books the last few months that take me days or weeks to finish and I’m way behind on my reading goals for the year because of this.
It takes skill … Some do not think this is true, after all, it’s a novella, how hard can it be? Some of us know it is true. And some who don’t write novellas know it’s true, as well. Not every book written has to solve a huge outward problem. Not every book written has to solve any problem at all. It could just be about sex, which is definitely not a bad thing. Nope. But just as writing long, in depth, full length novels take skill, writing novellas takes skill too.
More titles … You get more stories. Presumably. If I do my job. You get more stories. More often. And this is not about quantity over quality. That’s not what I mean. What I mean is that I’m able to finish something quicker and get it edited quicker and into your hands quicker. Several authors do this very successfully … Alexa Riley and Mina Carter. They write quick, hot books and get them out for their readers to devour.
Because I can … Yes. I said it. Because I can. I can write any length I want. As I said at the beginning of the post, with publishing the way it is, authors can write what they want, any length they want, and publish when they want. We no longer have to wait on a publisher to give us the go ahead or give us guidelines to follow, only accepting this length for this type of story. It’s in our hands now. It’s within our power. And, while it once scared me, I’ve righted that thought process and find it to be awesome now.
Price points … When my novellas were at publishers, they could charge whatever they wanted. Sometimes, they had to charge outrageous amounts in order to make money. They were slightly higher than average, but it worked for them for the most part. When things began to go downhill, they still charged outrageously and paid for it with lower sales. It was too late once they began lowering prices. I can charge for new and re-released titles whatever I want. Whatever I believe is reasonable. I have several things at $0.99 right now and some of those will go up and some will stay at that price. My novellas are worth more than $0.99. I write well. I write raw. I write real. I put real emotion into what I write. Some readers only want free books. I get that. Some only want $0.99 and some won’t pay that because they perceive it as a bad book if it’s priced that low. The market has been glutted to death with $0.99 books for several years now and honestly, while I will buy some at that price or free (usually new to me authors), I pay $2.99-4.99 for an ebook. I want to cry if it’s more than $4.99. But that’s a whole other argument (it doesn’t cost near as much to produce an ebook, no matter who you are). Especially when NY publishers charge $8.99 and up for fiction. But for these books, I often go to the bookstore and buy the print or hop over to an online shop and order the print. Which is part of the game … But like I said, that’s an argument for another time. I want to keep my price points affordable to those who read my book, but I also want to make money at my job, the same as readers like you make money at your jobs and unless a writer has rabid readers, for most, $0.99 isn’t the money maker. It’s the $0.99 money loser.
So, those are some of the reasons I write novellas over full length novels. It may change. But I’ll continue telling the story from the characters as they want and need me to tell them. They often have a specific point in their lives, a certain thing that changed for them that they want told. They may not want the whole drama spilled on the page and novellas work for them. And yes, I talk about my characters as though they’re living and breathing like you and me because in my head, they are.
I welcome questions and comments, but for now, I’m going to sign off …
In the #RWChat last night on Twitter (this morning for me), they talked about writing goals and the end of the year and what goals do writers have for the last 3 months of 2017, what obstacles are in the way, what changes can be made, and how are you feeling as a writer about your writing…
That chat prompted me to write this post.
I hate and love my lists of goals and my attempts at creating workable schedules. Hate because, yeah… Love because they make me feel productive when I actually stick to them. Which, again, yeah…
I mentioned in my newsletter a few weeks back that with the deep level of depression that I suffer from May through the end of July (I suffer all year long from depression, but it’s noticeably worse in Summer), my productivity suffers as well. I can’t write. I try and I can’t. I spent most of my Summer this year reading. I’ve read more in the last few months than I have in the last year. I watched movies and I read. I sat outside when it was possible (meaning when it wasn’t 300 degrees in the shade) and read. I read big books and a couple small books. I read physical books and Kindle ebooks. I read.
But I also thought, planned, and tried to get something in place in my head that when the fog began to lift, I would be able to tackle what needed to be tackled. I bought a Happy Planner and I keep track of what I’m doing every day in it. That has helped me a lot. And it allows me a little creativity to add to it and make it prettier than it already is. But, I’ll talk about that another day.
So, what does this all mean? Well… It means, I’m going to work off a school calendar. August through just a few days into May. Work meaning writing. I’m working off a goal list of 3 months at a time… August-October, November-January, February-April. I’ll wind down the writing around the second week of May and then give my mind and spirit the rest that depression demands of it.
I find that come August, I start feeling brighter, happier, more motivated, and more creative. It’s a different feeling than when I go into May which is a sensation of dread and darkness coming in from the edges. Those who suffer from depression will understand what I’m talking about.
We are in October now and so far, I’m still doing well. I’m working through my writing list and my goal list. I have a better idea and plan of what I want and need to accomplish with my time. There’s some refining I want to do to make life flow a little easier, but for the most part, two months in, I’m feeling good and staying positive, not so overwhelmed. I was afraid I might feel the overwhelm, but because I’ve set a stop date for writing after 9 months, it’s actually eased a lot of the anxiety and tension and stress.
I have realized that it is imperative with age and depression and learning/knowing myself better, that finding the right time of year to work is as important as finding the right time of day that is most productive. I’m still working on that second part, but I’ve put this all in motion to hopefully find that this is my right time of year, these particular 9 months.
I’ve been lost for about five years now. Maybe longer. Lost in life, in writing, in just who I am. And it didn’t seem to be getting better and frankly, I was losing more hope by the day. I no longer have the confidence, the support network that I once did in writing and publishing. Depression demons talk. A LOT. In whispers and in loud bullhorn voices. They feed other demons until there is no way to drown it all out.
My sincere desire is for this new schedule to work. For it to be the one thing that finally clicks for me and I’m able to get back to my productive self. The new Starbucks down the street can’t hurt, either, right?
If you have any thoughts or questions, please leave a comment!
Have a great one.
So, my tally for Bout of Books 20 isn’t as high as I’d hoped it would be. I made it through 3 1/2 of the Magic and Mayhem books by Robyn Peterman. I had wanted to make it through all 5, but life happens. I don’t feel too terribly bad because I came into it so late, but when they have Bout of Books 21 in January, I will be totally prepared to put in all 7 days from beginning to end.
But I ‘met’ (on Twitter) some really cool people and found a lot of great books and blogs to follow.
The next read-at-thon I’m planing to participate in is the one I told y’all about on October 21st. It’s a 24 hour one and I think I have the series picked out that I’m going to dive into… Then again, between now and then, I may find several other series and I’ll end up putting all the titles in a hat and drawing one out.
I’ve finished writing Abe’s Will and have a few scenes to flesh out.
I’ll be starting on Witchin’ Spice, my title that will be in Robyn Peterman’s Magic and Mayhem Kindle World. It will be out in October.
There are many other books I’m making notes on and planning and several re-releases happening, too. I’ll keep y’all updated on those as they happen.
I’m also wanting to put together a read-a-thon of my own and a write-a-thon. I’m looking forward to finding people to help me with ideas. If you have any, let me know!
But for now, that’s all I have!
Because there seems to be some confusion.
In the beginning of Bear Haven, I said this: The ride in general isn’t over, but the ride in the Southern Shifters Kindle World, for me, is. At least for these characters. At least for the foreseeable future.
So, lets clarify some things. YES, Gus and Bex are over, but ONLY in the Southern Shifters Kindle World. I had to do what I did. I had to end Bear Haven as I ended it BECAUSE in order to tell the bigger story… to weave other characters in from other series, to connect some other dots into it all, I had to move Gus and Bex, Michael and Maxine, and other supporting characters OUT of the Southern Shifters Kindle World. (Remember… the Southern Shifters Kindle World does not belong to me and as such, there are limitations to what I can and cannot do.)
The Black and White series is, for the time being, done. I said that too (look above). I may go back and write another one. But only after I finish all the other tie ins.
Gus and Bex will be starting over. Elsewhere.
Michael and Maxine will be getting their own book.
Marcel and Mari will be getting their own book.
And ALL of these will be linked, loosely, but linked nonetheless with my Denali Heat bears which I just got the rights back to.
Keep in mind, as well, as I said in the back of Bear Haven, that none of these stories will be coming until either late 2017 or early 2018. I am sorry you have to wait, but other things happened (Samhain Publishing closing), that forced plans to be altered.
But, to reiterate… There are reasons I did what I did. I have mentioned it before Bear Haven came out AND after Bear Haven came out.
Please if you still have questions, ask me. I’m happy to answer them.
I… am a writer.
This is something I’ve been struggling with lately. And damn y’all, I wish I didn’t struggle so much with so many things, especially when it comes to this writing business.
At the same time, with each struggle, whether internal or external, mental or emotional, I learn something new about myself. This is a really good thing. And… by the time I’m 100, I should have my path pretty much figured out.
In all seriousness, though, I have been struggling with relevance in regards to book length. Can I still call it a book if it’s a novella? Do I call it a story? Is it worth publishing? Charging for? Is it worth even bothering at all?
I have written short short stories before… 3000-5000 words.
I have written longer short stories, too… 10000-15000 words.
I have written many novellas… 18000-40000 words.
I have also written 45000, 50000, almost 60000 words.
That novella line though… more than 25 of those in the years I’ve been publishing.
There are some authors who make a really good living writing novellas. They publishing 10 or so a year. They charge $0.99 for them most of the time. And they’re usually part of a series, released in quick or at least methodical succession. This is something to learn from. Something to watch closely for someone like me who writes novellas.
My writing productivity has fallen off the last few years as all of you know. Self publishing has made me incredibly uncomfortable and doubtful in my ability to write. While it’s giving many authors a sense of power, it’s given me a great deal of anxiety and stress and way too many ‘what the fuck am I even doing anymore?’ moments. This has to change. There is no choice, no other option but for it to change.
And as the two big small press publishers have closed their doors in the last 60 days and the books that had been published with them revert back to me… It’s the majority of my catalog. 15 titles between Ellora’s Cave and Samhain Publishing. I have several titles that have reverted to me from Loose Id as well. All of them… there’s 18 in total… They’re novellas.
It’s my preferred length. That’s obvious.
I can write longer. I can write shorter.
But there’s a lot that can be done with novellas. It’s something I’d forgotten. It’s something I’d pushed to the back of my mind in the face of conversations that talk only of the success and desire for novels of 70000-120000 words. I don’t write that. I don’t even read that most of the time anymore.
Then, I began looking again at those who do write novellas and who do find success with them. And I remembered a conversation I had with someone in Amazon’s Kindle Worlds division about the success that writers are having writing novellas in different worlds.
I suddenly felt foolish at having doubted myself and what I wrote. For years I made money and wrote a lot of words in a lot of different stories that touched a lot of different people who still talk about those characters and want them.
So, yes… I… am a writer.
And that’s pretty damn awesome. It took me a long ass time to come back around to that realization. And it’s a strength, not a weakness as I was trying to convince myself it was, as others tried to convince me it was. Maybe for those writers, it is their weakness. But it’s not mine.