Before I officially announce that this is Innovative Editing’s Writing Rule #9, I should probably apologize for that horrible pun of a title.
My father is a punster; and ever since marrying a punster herself, my younger sister has turned into one as well. So sometimes, as much as I’m ashamed to admit this, these three close familial sources rub off on me and out comes a pun.
I still take full responsibility for my actions.
While there are famous and profitable novellas out there, most if not all of them were written decades ago, like that list of examples I provided earlier in the week: Animal Farm, Of Mice and Men, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, etc.
Today though? If they were written in this century – or really in the last 25 years – their chances of being major moneymakers is pretty abysmal.
For all I know, there might be a very good reason for that. I’m sure some intrepid creative writing grad school student could tackle the topic if he or she wanted to. Yet knowing the why in this case probably wouldn’t do you any good if you do, in fact, have a novella on your hands that you want to see go mainstream.
As such, I’m not going to go into the minutia here. That can be a Writing Challenge of your own undertaking if you’re interested. Instead, here at Innovative Editing, let’s talk about profitable paths to take you around Rule #9…
There are two possible exceptions:
Writing an extra story about an already established fan favorite of a character
Writing a free story to generate interest in the upcoming novels you plan on publishing.
For example, historical fiction author Kate Quinn (who I’ll admit I probably gush about a bit too often here), has a series called Empress of Rome, which sees a significant gap of time between two of its books. I’m not sure whether Quinn always intended to fill in that gap by way of a novella, or if enough of her readers harassed her into doing it. But one way or the other, she wrote and published The Three Fates, which is currently selling on Amazon as an e-book only.
Stephanie Meyers – of Bella and Edward love-story fame – did something very similar with The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse Novella. And there are a number of other authors who have fed their fans – and lined their pockets – with an extra 40,000 words or so.
However, let’s face it. If you’re reading this post, you’re probably not Kate Quinn or Stephanie Meyers. Chances are actually high that you haven’t published anything yet. In which case, the information above does nothing for you.
That’s fine though, because there’s another avenue more readily available to your novice fingertips…
Write your novella; get it edited to the best of your abilities through beta readers, writing clubs or professional editing services; and then post it up on sites like CompuServe or Wattpad for everyone to see.
While you don’t get to charge anyone to read your combination of creativity and hard work, you do get to generate interest in your writings, maybe even sending them to your awesome new author’s site along the way. In short, while you’re busy working on a longer work – a full-length novel – your novella is busy getting you a fan base.
And since building a fan base is the real means by which an author makes money, using a novella in this way – even though it’s for free – can be a very powerful marketing tool.
Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!