Writing: You Can’t Win ’em All

I’ve been writing a series of novellas that I really enjoy.  I don’t know if I chose the wrong covers for them or if I’m marketing them wrong, but they just aren’t catching on.  If you have ideas, I’d be happy to hear them.  If you don’t, that’s fine, too, because I’m guessing that mixing medieval times with supernaturals wasn’t my best idea.  But it’s possible that I don’t care.

Short fiction, in general, isn’t as popular as novels.  Most of my novellas go up in the rankings for a while, and then fall for a while, bouncing up and down.  Not wonderful, but something I can live with.

I’ve learned from experience.  I intend to spend more time concentrating on novels and less time churning out novellas.  But novellas, for me, are like a piece of chocolate.  Instant gratification.  In a week or less, I have a finished product that I like.   Michael creates a wonderful cover for my 40 pages, and I’m a happy girl.  It’s like opening a small box that you know will have something wonderful inside.

I wrote short stories for AGES.  They’re my first love, but when markets started drying up for them, I had to concede that longer was the rule of the literary land.  One of my friends–whose writing I deeply admire–Ed Bryant, wasn’t so happy when I devoted my time to novels over short fiction.  He’s made a distinguished career with short fiction, but let’s face it.  I’m no Ed Bryant.  And markets aren’t the same as they used to be.  So now, when I write short, it’s almost an indulgence, paying homage to an art form I love.  (And boy, was I happy when Canadian writer, Alice Munro–a short story writer–won the 2013 Nobel Prize for literature–a short story writer!!!  Hooray!)

Anyway, some of my novellas do better than others.  But my Christian/Brina series is doing dismally.  So you’d think I’d write a wrap-up novella, bundle the stories, and call it a day, wouldn’t you?  And I intended to.  Until I found a cover for a story that I thought would work perfectly in that series.  And then, wouldn’t you know it?  I found another cover for Christian and Brina that I liked.  So I’m torn.  And I kind of think Christian and Brina are going to stay as part of my mental landscape when story ideas dart through my brain.

For one thing, I’ve been grown-up for a long, long time, but I still fantasize about castles.  Not real castles, mind you.  Those can be cold and drafty…and smelly, too.  But FICTION castles.  And my stories are only as factual as my story ideas want to make them.  And then, I have a thing for magic and Merlin.  And Harry Potter.  So witches had to populate my fictitious serfdom–because that made me happy.  And then the witches had to battle something–so why not choose all of the leftover mythological creatures that I haven’t used before?  A match made in my idea of writing heaven.  Castles, witches, vampires, evil lords, and a Greek mythological creature or two.

I doubt my rankings will ever soar on this series.  But maybe for this series, I don’t care.  Maybe this series is for ME.  So there’ll be a new Christian/Brina novella out later in November.  And I might even lose money on it.  But once in a while, I write for myself.   cover_9_thumbcover_13_thumbcover_21_thumb  http://www.judithpostswritingmusings.com/series-of-novellas.html


12 thoughts on “Writing: You Can’t Win ’em All

  1. Well, I don’t think it’s the covers that are the problem — they’re gorgeous! As to other reasons … well, to be perfectly honest with you, I don’t buy or read novellas unless they’re spin-offs from a main novel series I’m reading. I just can’t handle getting involved with characters and then being brutally kicked out of their world 40 pages later. Even when I used to read fanfiction, I never read stories that were less than 60k words. So maybe that’s part of the problem — that there are others out there like me who aren’t huge novella fans? That being said, if you go with the idea you mentioned — of bundling some novellas together — I think that might work really well. You could always bundle a few and see what happens!


    1. Thanks so much for the reply. I belong to Goodreads, and I’ve read several other comments by readers that they won’t get attached to characters and storylines and then lose them in forty pages. There must be a lot of readers who feel the same way. I’m a short story fan and never thought about that until I started writing the novellas. Thanks for being so candid.


      1. I get downloads on some of my other novellas in series, so maybe it’s the combination of castles and supernaturals that scares them away. I can never guess what will work or what won’t, so I just write the best stories I can–long or short. But I went to your blog–which is really fun–and read your post about YOUR short story. Congratulations on the 200 downloads. Way to go!


      2. Thanks 🙂 And that’s all we can really do, right? Write what we love, and hope that someone out there appreciates it. My sales on my book are minuscule compared to a lot of WordPress authors, but I’m proud of it all the same 🙂


      3. You should be. Writing is usually, unless the Lightning Rod of Luck strikes you–which rarely happens–a one step at a time type thing. First, you learn to write and then you build an audience. You’re on your way.


  2. I have the same problem. All kinds of short stories that just end up in contests because I don’t know what to do with them. But I still write them. Maybe Munro winning will bring about a revival for the rest if us??? Ha. 🙂


  3. I think we should always write for ourselves, at least a little bit. That’s how our personalities shine through and plain-old words can have the chance to become special under our fingertips…! (p.s. I think sales in general tanked through October: it’s probably not your series!) cheers AB 🙂


  4. I happen to love short stories. But then I love a good story no matter what form it takes. One reason I get into rap and country/western music. To me, those are usually short stories with background music added. Comic books and graphic novels are another form I enjoy. Then there’s always short works on the caliber of what you have produced.

    There’s nothing wrong with your covers. They’re fantastic. It just takes time to get a fan base going. Have you thought about giving your characters their own website? That’s how a few independent comic writers often raise excitement over their work. When I worked on underground comics we would send out maps and lexicons of the world our characters would inhabit. This often worked well in generating buzz. We usually did this through gamer meetings or conventions. Some guys even had chatrooms where people could come in as their own characters. If the characters were received well enough the writers would put them in the story. Now people had a vested interested in following the series, and telling their friends to.

    The only hitch is that once you have an audience, you have to publish installments pretty rapidly to keep them. Monthly at least.

    I also agree that it there are often just plain ole slow sales months, where everything is down.

    Keep writing.


    1. Thanks, John. That particular series just doesn’t want to take-off, so I need to think of something. You gave me lots of ideas. When did you work on underground comics? Bet you came up with lots of original ways to interact with readers. And how did you learn so much about drug wars in Mexico for your novel? Or do I want to know? The Scribes’ carry-in is on Dec. 11th at 11:00 if you can make it. We always like it when you can drop in. Hope you’re still writing and sending out your book.


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