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Series and Prequels (1 Viewer)

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MPhillip

Senior Member
It worked for Star Wars, but for the life of me I don't know why. Will it work for a series of romance short stories involving the same protagonist and antagonist, and three different love interests?

Story number three to be published first and containing hints pointing backwards to the #1 & 2. Then #1 and finally #2 as prequels. #1 and #2 end with the hope of a HEA by introducing the next story in the series.

The stories will be released separately, but might also be released as a bundle/collection after all have been on the street awhile.

Thoughts and opinions will be appreciated and given a public and hearty thank you.
 

VonBradstein

Senior Member
I don't see why it wouldn't work...

Personally I tend to approach with caution short stories arranged in a series format. In most instances I feel it would be better putting them together into a novel, but that is largely personal taste - I prefer to read novels than short stories generally.

I assume these are being traditionally published somewhere as opposed to self-published, so I guess it largely is up to the editor/publisher as to whether it will work. If you were self-publishing somehow, I would say to research the market and consider whether you will be able to sustain interest enough to attract the sale of multiple shorter pieces.

I do like the idea of a retrospective look back at a person's trials and tribulations on the road to finding love, so without knowing any of the details it sounds like an attractive project.
 

qwertyman

WF Veterans
Hi MPhillip,

To clarify:
You have 3 chronological tales Volumes 1/2/3, which you want to release 3/1/2.
The protagonist (x) and antagonist (y) are constant.

Are the three different love interests independent of x and y, or are they coupled with x and y and the story is an unravelling of affairs?

The major interest in a love story is will it happen, 'will love triumph over adversity'. Are you giving the game(s) away by publishing volume 3, first? You say there is a Hollywood ending to each volume. In this genre that's the end. There is no more.

Why not a full length novel as VonBradstein suggests?

However, anything's possible. But is it a commercial proposition? I'd worry about that.
 

Jack of all trades

Senior Member
I just learned the other day that out of all the people who buy a first book of a series, only 60% will buy the second, and only 50% of those who buy the second buy the third.

So if you publish 3-1-2, not all will get to number 2.

And what about those that start with number 1 anyway?

It seems like a gimmick to me. And not all gimmicks are successful.

BTW, I think Star Wars was successful In Spite Of the crazy order, not because of it.
 

MPhillip

Senior Member
Thanks for the comments.

Why not a novel? Two reasons:


  1. Research indicates DIY published short romance stories written by new/emerging authors sell better and longer than novels.
  2. I don't seem to have the legs to produce a full length novel; just too many words for me to screw up.
 

VonBradstein

Senior Member
Thanks for the comments.

Why not a novel? Two reasons:


  1. Research indicates DIY published short romance stories written by new/emerging authors sell better and longer than novels.
  2. I don't seem to have the legs to produce a full length novel; just too many words for me to screw up.

Hey Phillip,

I am interested in this statement: "Research indicates DIY published short romance stories written by new/emerging authors sell better and longer than novels."

May I ask where did you read/hear that? I don't disbelieve you, I'm just interested because it's the opposite of what I have heard on the subject. I can believe that short stories are easier to sell than novels for sure (although for much less money as its usually cents per word) but I would have assumed that was to established magazines, ezines and anthologies rather than through self-publishing. I do not know anybody who has self-published their short stories and gotten anything out of it financially. Perhaps a collection, but not sure if three would qualify as a collection.

I can understand a natural aversion to undertaking a whole novel but I think its misguided. The reason I - and others -are advocating a novels is because all the evidence (as pointed out by Jack) suggests that its very difficult for a new writer to attract a reader to having to essentially purchase and read three different pieces - short and no - in order to get the full story. I can tell you anecdotally that I am extremely hesitant to buy anything that says 'Part One' in the title, or otherwise is clearly part of a collection, unless I know the writer well enough to know it's worth bothering with. It's not that you can't do it, it's just unorthodox and may be offputting to some folks.

The majority of first time writers who find significant commercial success do so with a well crafted standalone book that is roughly in the sweet spot in terms of word count and genre. I think you're possibly overthinking how difficult it is. Also you're in luck that romance novels particularly usually do not range too high in terms of word count. I have it on pretty good authority that a publishable length for a romance novel is anywhere from 60-80 thousand words, which sounds like a lot but really isn't. Some places I've seen will even accept and publish romance novels with as few as 40,000 words - which is probably not much more than your three short stories would be together anyway (About 13,000 words each story?)

Just a thought. Not trying to pressure people and I respect you knowing your limitations. Good luck either way.
 

Bayview

WF Veterans
I'm a bit concerned about the three separate romances part - if these are meant to be genre romance novels, you need to leave your characters in a HEA situation. And the love story should be the central story. Assuming your protagonist is the one falling in love... does your protagonist have three separate HEAs? I think that might be a bit much for readers to accept.
 

MPhillip

Senior Member
I just learned the other day that out of all the people who buy a first book of a series, only 60% will buy the second, and only 50% of those who buy the second buy the third.
So if you publish 3-1-2, not all will get to number 2.
And what about those that start with number 1 anyway?
It seems like a gimmick to me. And not all gimmicks are successful.
BTW, I think Star Wars was successful In Spite Of the crazy order, not because of it.

I agree, the order of movie releases for Star Wars was a gimmick, but so are the hooks we write to catch a reader's attention. Star Wars was just a bigger and more expensive hook that made more money.
Did the research address the number of new readers of of a series as the newer releases appeared? Or was it a study undertaken to bolster opinions against creating series?

Hey Phillip,

I am interested in this statement: "Research indicates DIY published short romance stories written by new/emerging authors sell better and longer than novels."

May I ask where did you read/hear that? I don't disbelieve you, I'm just interested because it's the opposite of what I have heard on the subject. I can believe that short stories are easier to sell than novels for sure (although for much less money as its usually cents per word) but I would have assumed that was to established magazines, ezines and anthologies rather than through self-publishing. I do not know anybody who has self-published their short stories and gotten anything out of it financially. Perhaps a collection, but not sure if three would qualify as a collection.

I can understand a natural aversion to undertaking a whole novel but I think its misguided. The reason I - and others -are advocating a novels is because all the evidence (as pointed out by Jack) suggests that its very difficult for a new writer to attract a reader to having to essentially purchase and read three different pieces - short and no - in order to get the full story. I can tell you anecdotally that I am extremely hesitant to buy anything that says 'Part One' in the title, or otherwise is clearly part of a collection, unless I know the writer well enough to know it's worth bothering with. It's not that you can't do it, it's just unorthodox and may be offputting to some folks.

The majority of first time writers who find significant commercial success do so with a well crafted standalone book that is roughly in the sweet spot in terms of word count and genre. I think you're possibly overthinking how difficult it is. Also you're in luck that romance novels particularly usually do not range too high in terms of word count. I have it on pretty good authority that a publishable length for a romance novel is anywhere from 60-80 thousand words, which sounds like a lot but really isn't. Some places I've seen will even accept and publish romance novels with as few as 40,000 words - which is probably not much more than your three short stories would be together anyway (About 13,000 words each story?)

Just a thought. Not trying to pressure people and I respect you knowing your limitations. Good luck either way.

The statement was made based on my research that included reading blog posts by writers, how-to books on writing short stories for e-books, and watching Amazon statistics on select shorts. The theory (that seems to work) is to publish a 3000 word short each week and sell it for $2.99 at 70% royalty, and repeat the following weeks. As the number of stories increases so does readership. There are unverified reports of writers who's annual sales are in the seven figure range, but, as with most sales successes, it is a numbers exercise. Although there are other factors, it turns out there are a lot of readers, especially of romance, who prefer to read a complete and satisfying story in less than an hour in their time-constrained days. Turns out erotica is the number one selling genre in shorts, and romance the number two. Other genres do sell, but not nearly as well as those two.

I'm a bit concerned about the three separate romances part - if these are meant to be genre romance novels, you need to leave your characters in a HEA situation. And the love story should be the central story. Assuming your protagonist is the one falling in love... does your protagonist have three separate HEAs? I think that might be a bit much for readers to accept.

That, I think, is the problem with the romance formula - there has to be a Happily Ever After - or so many folks believe. So many good reads end with just the hope or promise of a HEA. When a romance fan picks up the book, he/she knows there will be a satisfying end, so getting from Once Upon a Time to The End is what draws them to the genre. However, in this series, #3 ends with a HEA, and the other two end with hopes and promises.
 

JJBuchholz

Senior Member
I think it's a nifty idea and one worth writing. I ended up writing a prequel in one of my series, set one million years earlier, and it helped explain a few things found in later stories in the setries.

Personally I tend to approach with caution short stories arranged in a series format.

Interesting. I'd love to hear more thoughts on this.

-JJB
 

VonBradstein

Senior Member
I think it's a nifty idea and one worth writing. I ended up writing a prequel in one of my series, set one million years earlier, and it helped explain a few things found in later stories in the setries.



Interesting. I'd love to hear more thoughts on this.

-JJB

When I read short stories, which to be honest I don’t very often these days, it is because I want something short. Specifically it is because I want a story I can read in one sitting. Two max. Other readers like short stories for different reasons, but usually the length is part of the appeal. If you extend a story or it’s character arcs over two or more shorts you are undermining what many readers like me would find appealing.

I am aware serialized works are a thing and am not dismissing the project out of hand, but it is something to think about.
 

Jack of all trades

Senior Member
The research I read was actually about how to determine the cost effectiveness of ads. The point was if you advertise a first book in a series, you can, on average, expect 60% of those who bought the first to buy the second, and 50% of those that buy the second to buy the third.

BUT. That data is based on all three books being currently available. So no wait for the next book to come out.


Further thoughts on this subject.

You're putting the cart before the horse. Get the stories written! Then you can consider your options.

And one option to consider is to bind all three together, in your choice of order, for a single sale. "Buy 1;Get 3!" Hey, yeah! You'll get people's interest with that sales pitch!
 

Bayview

WF Veterans
The statement was made based on my research that included reading blog posts by writers, how-to books on writing short stories for e-books, and watching Amazon statistics on select shorts. The theory (that seems to work) is to publish a 3000 word short each week and sell it for $2.99 at 70% royalty, and repeat the following weeks. As the number of stories increases so does readership. There are unverified reports of writers who's annual sales are in the seven figure range, but, as with most sales successes, it is a numbers exercise. Although there are other factors, it turns out there are a lot of readers, especially of romance, who prefer to read a complete and satisfying story in less than an hour in their time-constrained days. Turns out erotica is the number one selling genre in shorts, and romance the number two. Other genres do sell, but not nearly as well as those two.

I honestly can't imagine there are a significant number of readers willing to spend $2.99 on 3K words, especially from an unknown author, but I'd love to be proven wrong. Please be sure to report back once you've tried this!
 

JJBuchholz

Senior Member
If you extend a story or it’s character arcs over two or more shorts you are undermining what many readers like me would find appealing.

I honestly am not worried about this. I'm not out to target every reader out there. If some read my works, I'm happy. And judging from the amount of traffic to my website as well as downloads, people are enjoying them.

-JJB
 

VonBradstein

Senior Member
I honestly am not worried about this. I'm not out to target every reader out there. If some read my works, I'm happy. And judging from the amount of traffic to my website as well as downloads, people are enjoying them.

-JJB

Okay, so first of all kudos to you for your success. I have not read your work (would love to) but if you're happy that's great!

I'm not going to say a whole lot, but I am confused. I was under the impression the point of this thread was because you wanted to get feedback on your series-of-shorts idea? If that's the case, why would you dismiss feedback and say you don't care? If you are getting a ton of traffic and downloads and everybody loves your work what was the point of this thread?

Anyway, I'm not sure why you would not care about factors that could potentially reduce your potential readership - for me that is pretty much the number one concern - but each to their own.

Like Bayview, I severely doubt any sizeable number of readers are interested in forking out $3 for a 3,000 word electronic story by an unknown or almost unknown author. I don't mean that to be spiteful or anything, it's just the reality of the market and 3,000 words is really very short. In fact I am certain this does not happen. Stephen King's "Guns" is probably the closest thing to a 3,000 story I've come across being sold as a standalone and that's currently available for 99 cents.
 

Jack of all trades

Senior Member
Okay, so first of all kudos to you for your success. I have not read your work (would love to) but if you're happy that's great!

I'm not going to say a whole lot, but I am confused. I was under the impression the point of this thread was because you wanted to get feedback on your series-of-shorts idea? If that's the case, why would you dismiss feedback and say you don't care? If you are getting a ton of traffic and downloads and everybody loves your work what was the point of this thread?

Anyway, I'm not sure why you would not care about factors that could potentially reduce your potential readership - for me that is pretty much the number one concern - but each to their own.

Like Bayview, I severely doubt any sizeable number of readers are interested in forking out $3 for a 3,000 word electronic story by an unknown or almost unknown author. I don't mean that to be spiteful or anything, it's just the reality of the market and 3,000 words is really very short. In fact I am certain this does not happen. Stephen King's "Guns" is probably the closest thing to a 3,000 story I've come across being sold as a standalone and that's currently available for 99 cents.

You're talking to the wrong person. MPhillip is the OP, not JJB.
 

MPhillip

Senior Member
The research I read was actually about how to determine the cost effectiveness of ads. The point was if you advertise a first book in a series, you can, on average, expect 60% of those who bought the first to buy the second, and 50% of those that buy the second to buy the third.

BUT. That data is based on all three books being currently available. So no wait for the next book to come out.

That is an interesting take, and I've read about that study a number of times over the years, but no one has ever provided any information beyond the questionable results. The numbers may well be accurate and precise, but they don't appear to be verifiable. Is there any information concerning identity of the group/business that conducted the study, methodology employed, raw data, and information on peer review?


Further thoughts on this subject.

You're putting the cart before the horse. Get the stories written! Then you can consider your options.

I've been chewing on this awhile and have not been able to come up with a sensible explanation, so I have to ask how such a spurious accusation and unreasonable demand help the discussion or even have anything to do with the topic.
 

Jack of all trades

Senior Member
That is an interesting take, and I've read about that study a number of times over the years, but no one has ever provided any information beyond the questionable results. The numbers may well be accurate and precise, but they don't appear to be verifiable. Is there any information concerning identity of the group/business that conducted the study, methodology employed, raw data, and information on peer review?
That has nothing to do with anything.

Bottom line, there will be some who will not read all the books in a series. Common sense tells me that much. If you want to discuss the study, start a thread specifically about that.

I've been chewing on this awhile and have not been able to come up with a sensible explanation, so I have to ask how such a spurious accusation and unreasonable demand help the discussion or even have anything to do with the topic.

There is no accusation or demand.

I have been here long enough to see folks with elaborate plans remain stuck in the planning stage. If you have the stories already complete, then I apologize for my misunderstanding.
 

MPhillip

Senior Member
That has nothing to do with anything.

Bottom line, there will be some who will not read all the books in a series. Common sense tells me that much. If you want to discuss the study, start a thread specifically about that.



There is no accusation or demand.

I have been here long enough to see folks with elaborate plans remain stuck in the planning stage. If you have the stories already complete, then I apologize for my misunderstanding.

That is correct - the study has nothing to do with anything because it doesn't exist. You brought up the subject, so please don't obfuscate by pushing its nothing onto me.

And, yes, you accused me of not doing it your way by accusing me of "putting the cart before the horse". And, yes, you demanded I do it your way by writing the stories first. You assumed something you had - and still have - no first or even second hand knowledge of, and then made the accusation and demand. I am angry about it because it is a personal attack. No, you don't get to choose what is offensive to me.

If this is my swan song here for stating the obvious and not accepting such comments directed at me or anyone else, so be it, but I will not accept such comment from you or anyone else. If those are the acceptable norm I see no reason to be here.
 

MPhillip

Senior Member
A hearty and heart felt thanks to those who contributed anything positive to the original subject and to those who contributed positively to where it wandered.

Sayonara
 
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