Deadly Ever After

Archive for the tag “kindle unlimited”

Size Matters: Novellas vs Full Length Novels

Todays brew:  hot water with lemon and honey

by Kristen

Is it just me or does it seem like more books than ever are coming out lately?  A lot of you have accused me of forgoing sleep to write, or of being a machine, but some authors are even making me say how do they do that?  There are people putting out new stories every couple of weeks. And readers love it.

So how the heck do they do it?

Novellas. Novelettes. Short stories.  Call them what you want, but under 50K is the new black. Tor is starting a new imprint for novellas. Kindle Unlimited is making short stories profitable for many authors. Some authors are only writing short stories now. A huge change from when I first began my publishing journey and there was no market for novellas. And again, readers love them. They’re priced competitively and they don’t require a huge commitment. A couple weeks ago, I had a lot of down time on a job. So between talent, I read. (I do all my best reading on the clock.) I wound up checking out three novellas that day.  It was cool to just have this little nibble of a story that was tailor made to the time I had.  A full length book can take me weeks to finish, if I ever do. My attention span isn’t what it used to be. Chances are, yours isn’t either.

You may have noticed I’ve written a few of novellas as well. My Colorado Shifters stories are all under 30K.  I decided that I wanted to supplement The Spotlight Series with shorter stories dedicated to the sidekicks. The Trouble With Bree was born.  I found that paranormal readers are a little more open to the short format, but with recent serial releases from bestselling authors such as Elizabeth Lee and Marquita Valentine, I think that contemporary readers are soon going to find these stories fit into their busy lives nicely.

Writing a novella takes similar planning to writing a novel. The main difference is that the characters will be dealing with one main conflict, and not as many subplots.  With only 30K (or less!) words, every single one of them has to be a part of a well-oiled machine. Just because your story is short doesn’t mean you can skimp on character development or plot. I also find that my novellas have fewer characters, and the story takes place over a shorter span of time.

The biggest challenge came to me after I wrote three novellas in a row and it was time for a new full length story, The Fire Dancer, which will be the next Night Songs book.  The words were coming, but something wasn’t right. I had to go back and spend some more time with my story and my characters. It was okay to follow with the characters while they went for coffee or watched a movie, as long as something else was happening in the scene. In a novella, that kind of scene would have been shortened to just a mention of the activity. I had that chance to get to know my characters, and develop their personalities in other ways.  It didn’t have to be go go go all the time.  In my novellas, there are usually only two main characters and they usually want the same thing. In my novels, there’s a bigger cast, and they all have their own interests in mind.  Subplot city, baby.

Once I let myself slow down and explore Holly’s story deeper, the story flowed at the correct pace. When I say slow down, don’t think for a minute that I wrote less. I just spent more time with each scene, or let it have more complex parts.  The beauty of that was the characters took over. There are a few twists in that book that I didn’t see coming until they happened, and those are my favorite, because I think they make the book.

After The Fire Dancer, I returned to novellas. It was time for another Colorado Shifters story. I’d had the concept, an older woman working with a younger personal trainer, in mind for a long time. I’d planned to write it as a full length contemporary, but with a title like Cougar and the Lion in mind, it was perfect to adapt into this series.  This time, I incorporated some subplots. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to tell the story in under 30K words, but I told myself it didn’t matter how long it was, just write the story as the main character, Arielle, tells it to me. My girls haven’t wronged me yet.  The story wasn’t exactly the one I’d expected to write, but it’s Ari’s story, and I hope I did her proud.  The subplots actually drove the story. Had I not given some of the secondary characters time to appear in the story, it would have never worked as well as it did.

I want to keep writing both formats.  It’s a good challenge for me, and hopefully changing things up makes me a stronger writer.  I have three series I’m working on now, and the next story I have on tap is shorter, and then I’ll return again to a full length novel.  The shorter books are a great way to keep readers engaged between longer books, and as they’re a fun way to tell stories in a different style.

My novellas tend to land at 27K words and my full length books at about 68K.  What’s your sweet spot?  Have you tried your hand at shorter fiction, or will you be sticking to strictly novels?


Happy Book Birthday To The Trouble With Bree!

Today’s Brew: I bought some Mayflower Autumn Wheat last night, which I may crack open during the Patriots game (I’m writing this on Sunday afternoon).

by Kristen

Break open the local brews!  Bree is having a book birthday.  If you’ve read Secondhand Heart, you’ve already met Bree. The most common question people asked me about that book was, “What happens with Bree and Josh?”

Now, you know. Bree is Daisy’s best friend, and a young mom. She’s got a big heart and makes bad decisions, but she can totally laugh at herself.  She wants better for her family, but as we all know, that’s easier said than done.  Especially when you’re carrying a lot of baggage.

Josh hasn’t had it so easy, either. He seems like he’s got his collective crap together, but sometimes he still makes bad decisions. But it makes them a great couple, because they can understand each others mistakes, and they want to make each other better.


The Trouble With Bree is available on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited!

How about an excerpt?He ran a hand through his hair. The curls didn’t go back to the exact same place. “Does it bother you? To have someone so new be in charge of Landon’s school?”

 “Are people giving you a hard time because you’re young?” I asked. I did some quick math in my head, and settled on Josh being twenty-five.

 “Yeah.” Josh looked a defeated. “The administrators wanted someone fresh, but then they’re not always open to new ideas. It’s a struggle.”

 “This is what I think. I’ve been in charge of Landon up until now, and something tells me you’re a couple years older than me. I’m a little biased, but I like to think I’m doing all right. So if I can do it, you can totally handle him three mornings a week.”

 Josh leaned back on the couch, relief washing over his face. Maybe his age did bother some other people. Whatever. People judged first and asked questions later. I stopped letting it bother me when I had to bring Landon with me to high school. “I knew I liked you,” he said.

 “Did you?” A smile spread across my face.

 “You were the best fifteen minutes of my day.” He nodded. “Those evaluations can be pretty stiff, but with you guys, I felt like I was talking to friends. That’s why I asked if I could see you again. To be honest with you, I shouldn’t be doing this.”

 And there it was. The catch. “Why?”

 “It’s against school policy to have a relationship with the students outside of school related activities. That includes their parents.”

 “That makes sense.” There were so many creeps out there, in most circumstances, I’d be one hundred percent in favor of that rule. But now I was wondering what the loophole was.

 Josh had gone back to the kitchen for a second round of food, and dropped another Rangoon on my plate when he came back. “That’s actually why I didn’t get in touch with you right away. But I just moved here, and you were the first girl I couldn’t stop thinking about.”

 My heart stuttered in my chest, confused. He couldn’t stop thinking about me, but he already had his doubts. He was putting a lot on the line by just being here. “I’d said on the way to the meeting that I was never going to date again.”

 He raised an eyebrow. “So we’re both breaking the rules.”


Reading Unlimited, Kindle Edition

Today’s Brew: Hot Blueberry. I have the AC going and I’m actually cold. The first world is a good place to be sometimes.

by Kristen

The big news in publishing this week was Amazon’s roll of of Kindle Unlimited.  For 9.99 a month, customers have unlimited access to over 600,000 titles in Amazon’s print and audio library.  If you missed it, here’s the announcement from Amazon:

Today we are excited to introduce Kindle Unlimited – a new subscription service for readers in the U.S. and a new revenue opportunity for authors enrolled in KDP Select. Customers will be able to read as many books as they want from a library of over 600,000 titles while subscribed to Kindle Unlimited. All books enrolled in KDP Select with U.S. rights will be automatically included in Kindle Unlimited.

KDP Select authors and publishers will earn a share of the KDP Select global fund each time a customer accesses their book from Kindle Unlimited and reads more than 10% of their book – about the length of reading the free sample available in Kindle books – as opposed to a payout when the book is simply downloaded. Only the first time a customer reads a book past 10% will be counted.

KDP Select books will also continue to be enrolled in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL) available to Amazon Prime customers in the U.S., U.K., Germany, France and Japan where authors will continue to earn a share of the KDP Select global fund when their book is borrowed. KOLL borrows will continue to be counted when a book is initially downloaded.

For July we’ve added $800,000 to the fund, bringing the July fund amount to $2 million.

Too bad I am not the least bit tech savvy, because when I first subscribed to Netflix back in the way day, one of my first thoughts was, “Someone needs to do this with books!” Of course, at the time, no one had heard of an e-book, and I couldn’t figure out a way to make shipping heavy books back and forth profitable.  Now that it exists, I still love the idea, but now that I’m an author, I have a whole difference set of questions, besides where do I sign up?

DISCLAIMER:  As of writing this, my books are not in the KDP Select program or eligible for Kindle Unlimited.

Amazon isn’t the first company to do this.  Scribd and Oyster have similar programs with a similar amount of inventory.  But remember that number. 600,000. That sounds like a lot, and of course, the program is new, but that’s certainly not everything.  Even if I were to get a tally of the books available on Amazon as I wrote this, it would be inaccurate by the time you read this.  I’ve seen Amazon rankings as low as five million, so 600,000  is a great selection, but not everything.

Well, what’s included?  So far, the big five publishers seem to be holding off.  When I looked at the Kindle Unlimited Library, it reminded me a lot of Netflix.  There isn’t a ton of new stuff featured, and even though there are some best sellers available, they’re not all available.

What’s not included?  Self-published books are not eligible to participate unless they are signed up with KDP Select.  If you’re not familiar with that program, it’s offered to self-published authors as well as small presses. Amazon gives special promotional opportunities, such as free download days and Kindle Countdown Deals, in exchange for an exclusive listing.  The books KDP Select and now Kindle Unlimited can only be purchased, or now borrowed, from Amazon.

With the deluge of books that are being uploaded to Amazon and other retailers, free and discounted prices don’t pack the punch that they used to. When I uploaded my books, I didn’t think twice about distributing them to all retailers. Now indie authors may think twice about that, depending on the success of this program.  I did, however, opt in for the lending option, which is available to Kindle Prime members.

I’m not crazy about limited choices. While there are some upfront benefits to exclusivity, there are some drawbacks that can always rear their ugly head.  First, you’re limiting the amount of people who can have access to your product.  Secondly, when there is no competition, there’s no need to be competitive.  If the terms of the contract start to change, and the competition has been eliminated, then what do you do? You better start liking it, because there aren’t any other options. No thank you.

Subscribers pay a flat monthly fee, but how do authors and publishers get paid?  Self published authors will be paid for Kindle Unlimited borrows through the KDP Global Fund, equal to a “lend.”  Traditionally, this amount has been around two dollars per lend.  However, traditionally published books will be compensated as if the book was purchased.  I’m not exactly sure why there is a difference, but there is.

What does this mean for books?  We’ll have to wait and see.  For readers, it’s potentially amazing. However, I know I grew frustrated with Netflix. They didn’t have the selection I wanted, I didn’t always have a chance to watch my movies quickly enough to make the program really work for me. I never figured out how to stream from my computer to my TV. Eventually, I cancelled my subscription, and now I’ll get a movie from Redbox if I want to watch at home or actually go to the movies. (Note: I don’t watch a ton of movies, and I don’t even own any. I know, I’m weird.)  As an author, I have noticed a slight dip in sales on Amazon since the program launched, but there are still sales. However, my sales on other retailers have remained strong, and right now they’re outperforming my Amazon listings by about three to one.  Had I not had my books available on other retailers, would I have the same amount of lends through KU?  There’s no way to tell, but right now, I’m not scrambling to disable my listings on the other retailers.

This is definitely something to watch. I think all of us, as writers and readers, just want people to read and discover great books.  The program is super new, and it will grow with the needs and wants of its subscribers. I want to see it succeed, because anything that gets more people reading more books is a good thing.


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