Happy Monday, WG2E-Land!
Here’s a fabulous tip to help you begin to fill your cyber shelves and thus also fill your readers’ online shopping carts:
Build Your Backlist Quicker with Shorter-Length Novels
When I began writing-for-publication over thirteen years ago, I learned to write novels the TradiPub way. In other words, I was taught that for a book to be a publishable novel it had to come in around single title novel length, which meant a manuscript around 300 to 400 pages or between 85,000 and 100,000 words with approximately 250 words per page.
***Personal Anecdote: My agent at the time had me re-write Bootscootin’ Blahniks – the book that started it all for me and got me the big-time agent to begin with – five times, all at different lengths (bouncing between category length and single title) and in different sub-genres (first more chick lit then more romantic comedy then borderline erotica then more contemporary romance) because “that’s what publishers now wanted.” Not what readers wanted, mind you, but what publishers wanted.
So, once I dumped my agent and decided to go the Indie Epublished route, the first three Ebooks (fiction) that I Indie Epublished – The Bootscootin’ Books – were still that TradiPub length (in the length I originally wrote them in) and have done very, very well.
Consider though, that even though I write fast – I can produce a superfab fun novel that TradiPub length in roughly three to four months – that means, I’d only have three to four releases per year. Keep in mind, for TradiPub standards that’s a bunch! (Normal release rates appear to be one book per series per year in TradiPub Oz.)
My goal has always been…
To treat readers to great books for great prices
But, even though I was doing that and satisfying my readers, the one question my readers started asking me the most was:
Can’t you write faster? We don’t want to have to wait three to four months between your new books.
So, I asked myself…
What if I shortened the length of my Ebooks so that I could build my backlist faster and keep my growing reader base in more D. D. Scott-ville books more often than just three to four times per year?
I chatted some more with my readers about their thoughts on this, and here’s what I learned from them:
1. Ideally, they would love to wait no longer than two months between new releases from their fave authors. (That keeps an author fresh in their minds.)
2. Because of their tight schedules as working moms and dads and/or grandmas and grandpas, and in today’s multi-media world, they love quick reads that they can (a) read or listen to during their commute or at lunch, (b) read while waiting on the kids at soccer practice, cheerleading practice, music lessons, dance lessons, etc., (c) read while in a doctor’s waiting room, and (d) read knowing that the characters they’ve come to love will be back very soon with a new adventure.
3. Their attention spans are getting shorter and shorter so they like something they can invest a relatively short time in. Get great laughs and move on.
4. They have no clue how long a book “should” be. As long as the story is great, they don’t care either. Except that, again, they do have short attention spans that are getting even shorter.
So, I listened to them. They are my target audience. And listening to what that audience wants is good business.
In 2011, I began writing Ebooks that dropped to around 250 pages. Then went to 200 pages.
In the meantime, throughout 2011 and 2012, I wrote and released short stories (anywhere from 20 pages to 50 pages) to tide ‘em over in between the longer novels. I produced five, soon to be six, Anthologies (short story collections), including other fabulous WG2E-land Authors that I thought my readers would also enjoy. I’ve written and released holiday novellas, featuring the same characters my readers have come to love and can’t wait to spend time with.
Then, in 2012, I dropped the length of my novels to between 150 and 200 pages, and finally found the sweet spot for me as a writer and for my readers too!
My books are fast-paced, include lots of action and over-the-top LOL comedic capers. They’re rip-roarin’ fun and superfab fun quick reads.
And, at this new length, I can easily pop out 8 to 10 per year. Plus, I feel comfortable keeping my price at 99 Cents, which meets my “great price” goal.
***Note: I’m not going into the semantics of whether my books should now be called novellas versus novels. Frankly, readers don’t know the difference and don’t care. As long as they know the approximate length and how that stacks up to the price they’re paying for the book, that’s all that matters to them.
To recap and put my plan into perspective, I’ve been Indie Epublished since August 2010. By the end of this year, I’ll have right at 30 Ebooks on my cyber shelf, making up my backlist. Between August 2010 and December 2010, I only released 3 books (two fiction and one non-fiction). In 2011 and 2012, I’ve been able to release around 27 new titles. And that healthy-sized list and increase will have brought me, using my best guestimate based on my sales figures, around 300,000 readers by the end of this year.
It’s Your Turn, WG2E-Land: Tell us about the lengths of your Indie Epublished Books. Have you been releasing shorter-length Ebooks? Could that approach work for you?
The Best of Building Backlist Wishes — D. D. Scott
D. D. Scott is an Amazon and Barnes and Noble Top 100 Bestselling Romantic Comedy and Humorous Mystery Author. She’s also a Writer’s Go-To-Gal for Muse Therapy and Indie Epublishing, the Co-Founder of The WG2E – The Writer’s Guide to E-Publishing, and the Founder of The RG2E – The Reader’s Guide to E-publishing. You can get all the scoop on her, her books, her Online Classes and Live Workshops, plus juicy tidbits too from her new cyber home…D. D. Scott-ville.