Continuing our series on the author marketing and publishing journey, we examine the answers to quiz questions 3-4. If you missed the original 8-point assessment quiz or Part 1, take a moment to review them. This post is most helpful if you use it to analyze your answers to the quiz and get ideas for what to focus your efforts on right here, right now.
3. Type of work
Mostly short stories – If your finished works are mostly short stories, but you’d like to write novels, put some effort towards finishing that first novel. However, there’s a new opportunity available to authors who love the short story form: today’s publishing landscape is wide open for those who want to make (or supplement) a career with short fiction. Today’s mobile readers want stories-to-go, so you could publish with flash fiction magazines, and/or sell your own anthologies of short fiction. In other words, if you like the short story form, don’t feel like a second-class citizen. You don’t have to write a novel. There’s a global shortage (in my opinion) of truly great short fiction authors. This could be your time to shine.
Mostly novellas – The novella is a sweet spot in today’s publishing landscape. Readers love it because it’s a quick injection of entertainment, perfect for their busy lives. Most readers are content to pay the same amount for a good novella as they do for a cheaply-priced novel. There are opportunities available for wider recognition if you target a well-known contest (although contests aren’t always your best bet) or partner with some other authors to create a collection of works that would please readers in your genre (a boxed set, a bundle, an anthology, etc). That said, you might consider taking the leap and writing a full-fledged novel.
Mostly novels – If you have focused primarily on novels, consider supplementing this work with some short stories or novellas. Novels take longer to put together, even if you are quick and prolific. Putting out shorter works (whether as a reward for joining your mailing list, for sale, or as freebies to your loyal followers) in between releases of your novels will keep your name in front of your audience. They also provide entry points for new readers. A proven strategy is to use free short stories to introduce readers to the characters and setting of your novels; the reader that gets hooked on your hero in a short story is likely to click “buy” on the novel. Especially if you link to the novel at the end of the story.
4. Upcoming releases
If you did the 8-question quiz, you have a list of your works-in-progress (WIPs). Now look at each one and consider the following:
- What is unique about the setting of the story? When writing speculative fiction, the story world is half (or more) of the appeal of any given story. Think about the futurescape of The Fifth Element and Bladerunner. Remember the fantasyscape of Labyrinth and Alice in Wonderland. The wonder of Niven’s Ringworld and Pratchett’s Discworld.
- What are the engaging aspects of your character’s personalities? What are their day jobs? What is the trouble they become embroiled in?
- What themes or premise does your story explore?
Take each of the above, and think about ways to intrigue people with glimpses of your upcoming release(s). People joke about movie trailers that start with “In a world where…” but it’s an effective way to intrigue people. If you have art skills, you could draw things related to your story (characters, places, creatures, etc). If you don’t, you could browse Deviantart or Pinterest and find things similar to your world or characters.
People relate to others with similar jobs and are intrigued by others with exotic jobs. If your hero is a coffee shop barista, talk about the drink he invented; if she’s an aspiring actress, start casting her in upcoming movies; if he’s a hunter of monsters that stalk the night, tell us his favorite monster-free vacation spots or pet peeves about night-stalking. If she struggles with PTSD or nightmares or back trouble, share articles on the topic.
Tip: Sometimes we get story-blindness and don’t see the cool things about our own characters and stories. Find a creative friend (they don’t even have to be a writer, just someone with great ideas who enjoys movies or stories) and brainstorm with them. Tell them about your story and show them the above ideas and get their feedback; two brains are better than one! If you have a writer’s group, do this together. 5-10 minutes for each author, around the room, and you’ll have a ton of ideas!
To Be Continued… Same Bat-Time. Same Bat-Channel.