I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to get back to writing soon, and when I do, I’ll probably work on a novella. I haven’t had anything “new” out since last April, when I reissued a heavily revised version of Lord Langdon’s Kiss, so I’d like to get more work out there as quickly as I can. That means novellas, in this case, a prequel and sequel to Lady Em’s Indiscretion.
It takes me a long time to develop a full-length book—more than just 3-4 times the length it takes to write a novella. It takes me longer to deal with the complexities of more characters and subplots. Long books are still my absolute favorite both to read and write.
Novellas are fun to write, though, and they go more quickly, not having all of the complications I mentioned above. I enjoy reading them, too. Since they usually focus more closely on the hero and heroine, there’s a certain intimacy to well-written novellas, kind of like chamber music compared to orchestral music. A friend also called my novellas “bon-bons”, which is another fun way to look at it.
However, I’ve had a few readers complain about the length. Even at 99 cents, they were expecting a full-length novel and apparently did not notice the word “novella”, which is on the cover and also in the description along with a word count. I’ve heard this happens to other authors, and we’re all stumped as to how to make the length more clear. I suspect there are readers who buy inexpensive titles on impulse and don’t know what they bought until they start reading.
I’ve also heard of complaints if the digital version of a novella is priced more than 99 cents. Since I personally know the time and work that goes into a novella, I wouldn’t balk at a well-written novella being priced at $2.99 or $3.99, especially from an established author. But of course every reader has the right to make purchasing choices based on her own budget and preferences.
My own novellas are currently priced at 99 cents. My strategy has been to encourage new readers to take a chance on me, in the hope that they might go on to buy my full-length books. However, Amazon’s pricing tool is encouraging me to price my novellas at $2.99. It’s also telling me to use the same price for my full-length Regencies. That doesn’t seem right to me and would probably annoy readers, so I’ll always price my novellas less than my full-length books.
As for full-length books, I don’t generally want to support the notion that they should have a regular price of 99 cents. I make an exception for introductory prices and special sales. That is the beauty of digital publishing—one can afford to do that—but full length books are such a huge project that I think they should have a regular price that reflects the work that went into them. Even though I’m tickled when a reader tells me she stayed up and read a whole book in one night, I can’t help remembering that it took me a year or so to write it!
What do you think? Do you prefer novellas, long, meaty books, or something in between? Any opinions on e-book pricing?
Like other Riskies, I’m recently returned from the RWA conference. I stayed a few days extra for a family reunion, so I haven’t had much time yet to digest what I learned. The second leg of the trip turned unexpectedly adventurous, too–on Sunday while on the way to the Six Flags amusement park with some of the family, including my 9-year-old daughter and 10-year-old grand-niece, we had an abrupt flat tire in our rental car. While on I-20. Fortunately we were able to make it over to the shoulder safely, and we had enough fuel in the car to keep the AC running while we waited for AAA to come to the rescue. And that rescue was worth every penny of AAA membership fees we’ve paid for the last DECADE, as far as I’m concerned.
Once we finally got to Six Flags, we only had two hours or so to enjoy the rides before this happened:
We knew it was going to storm, just not quite so…vehemently. That trash can with what looks like waves breaking against it had already drifted five or six feet from its original spot, and within a minute floated out of sight entirely. Once the rain let up even a tiny bit, we sloshed back to our car and drove to my nephew’s house through an hour of rain that alternated between driving and merely heavy. Not the best amusement park excursion ever, but at least the barbecue we stopped for during a heavy rain phase was delicious.
Then when we finally got back to Seattle on Tuesday and started up my car, which we’d left parked at the airport, to our dismay its low tire pressure indicator came on! Since we could see one of the front tires was visibly flatter than its mate, rather than risk a repeat of Sunday’s experience, only on I-5 during rush hour, we located the nearest tire center, five minutes’ drive from the airport, and went straight there. Which was smart, as it turned out. There was a tack in the tire, and a good chance it would’ve gone entirely flat before we could’ve made it home and taken it to the dealership for a check the next day. So, props to Les Schwab Tire Center for patching the tire for free and to Google Maps for finding the closest one. I love my 21st century technology!
But I also love writing about the lower-tech world of 200 years ago. My latest release, A Dream Defiant, hits virtual shelves this coming Monday.
It’s a risky book on several levels. It’s my first-ever novella, so the shorter length was a learning curve for me–less than 30,000 words while my previous books have averaged around 90,000. So I had to ruthlessly cut the plot down to cover a shorter time range and resist the urge to go haring off chasing subplots or elaborating upon backstory. And I ended up enjoying it. While I don’t plan to give up full-length novels by any means, I have at least one more novella in the pipeline, a holiday romance whose title and release date remain TBD, but will be coming from Carina in late 2014.
But the biggest risk I took was writing a black hero. I was inspired by everything from a brief reference to Sudanese soldiers in Napoleon’s army in John Elting’s encyclopedic history Swords Around a Throne to the black soldier visible in the 1822 painting Chelsea Pensioners Reading the Waterloo Dispatch to Ta-Nehisi Coates’ blog posts about black soldiers in the Civil War.
Still, I hesitated for a long time before starting this story. Who did I think I was to create such a hero, when I’m not just a white woman but one with Southern roots and a Confederate soldier for a great-great-grandfather? And maybe I took too great a risk–though now it’s in the hands of you, the readers, to judge. But I ended up deciding it was an important, little-known aspect of history that was well worth exploring–and also that who my great-great-grandfather was shouldn’t determine what I can and can’t write about 150 years later.
I’m giving away a copy of A Dream Defiant in the electronic format of your choice to one randomly selected commenter between now and Sunday at 9 PM Pacific Time. So tell me about your own travel adventures, wonderful or otherwise, or let me know what risks you think Regency authors should and shouldn’t take.
Here’s one for an anthology in which a friend, Patricia Bray, had a story. The kittens on the cover are adorable, but they don’t say “romance” to me and the stories inside focused more on the paranormal than the cuteness.
I have mixed feelings about the Christmas anthology covers that seem to imply that the season itself somehow guarantees a happy ending. But a lot of Christmas novellas don’t actually use the holiday as a gimmick. In fact, the title of this one, with Risky Amanda as one of the contributors, actually refers to paranormal elements in this anthology. Much more fun.
I’ve only participated in one anthology myself, HIS BLUSHING BRIDE, with Alice Holden and our good friend and occasional Risky guest, Regina Scott. When I first saw the cover, I knew that though the Valentine-y treatment wasn’t my thing, it would appeal to a lot of readers. (The book sold pretty well.) Still, I went for a different look for the cover for the reissue of my story from that anthology, The Wedding Wager.I’ll be giving away 5 Kindle or Nook copies of The Wedding Wager to commenters chosen at random. If you win, you can also nominate a friend to receive a free copy. Void where prohibited. You must be over 18. No purchase necessary. Post your comment by midnight EST on February 24th. I will post an announcement on Saturday, February 25, so please check back to see if you have won.Elena