Yesterday, I watched a morning news segment highlighting a couple who were about to lose their house due to foreclosure and how publishing and selling their books on Amazon had saved them. The authors went on to explain that they write romance novels together and once they realized the popularity of the genre due to the success of Fifty Shades of Gray, wrote feverishly producing more than twenty novels in six months. Quite a feat, I might add.
Consumed with a mix of curiosity, admiration, and jealousy I delved further into this story and researched the books this couple had published. What I discovered may have just changed how I perceive the future of books and writing and how to make a living at the craft.
Turns out that most of these romance “novels” are merely glorified short stories. Several averaged around forty or fifty pages in length with the shortest at seventeen pages and the longest running about 150 pages. I clicked on each one and saw its rank. Most were in the low thousands which I’ll admit is pretty darn good if you’ve got income coming from twenty books. All their books had dozens of reviews and many were favorable, although several did state that there were grammatical and spelling errors throughout the pages.
The last thing I did was read samples of each book even though I don’t normally read romance. And you know what? They were quite good. The books had quick hooks and engaged me right away. The end of the samples left me wanting to know more. So, what am I to make of these mini “novels” by so-called “authors”?
I believe they may be the wave of the future.
The indie revolution in publishing has opened a floodgate for writers and readers allowing experimental stories and characters to be published in forms that were never available before. There is no longer a minimum requirement for anything when it comes to publishing. These short romance novellas that these two authors are getting rich writing would never have been tolerated by an agency or publisher just five years ago. No longer does an author need to work for years to meet the 80,000 word minimum requirement to classify a book as a novel. A talented writer can pump out a 15,000 word masterpiece and have it available for sale in a few weeks (and make a fortune) as long as the plot is engaging.
So, what does this mean to the future of bookselling? Are these “pop” novels that take just a few weeks to write and a few hours to read really going to take over the literary marketplace and drive away the 300,000 word behemoths? I don’t think so. But I also believe that writing short, interesting, exciting books, and selling them for cheap can build a pretty strong following pretty fast. And writing these books in series could be very profitable.
If the general public can lose the stigma that a good book has to be such and such length and contain so many twists and turns and that incredible stories come in all lengths and with all kinds of characters, they will discover a whole new enjoyable reading experience with these “pop” novels.