Thursday, April 3, 2014

Novellas: yes or no?

I have a confession to make, you guys. It's not a particularly big confession, but it's something that I'm pretty passionate about: I hate 0.5 books.

You know the ones - the "between the books" novellas, the ones that give us an additional short burst of excitement between publication dates. Part of the story told from a different perspective, or an extra little mission, or a character's back story fleshed out in detail.

I HATE THEM.

Yes, they give readers something to look forward to. But whenever I've read them, I find them enormously unsatisfying. Oh, you want to know why? Sure. It's usually one of the following reasons:

1. They're short.
They tend to be only about 50 pages long. As a result, they only take me about fifteen or twenty minutes to read. You're just starting to get into the story, and it's all over. Womp womp.

2. They're expensive.

I can't speak for the US, but here they tend to sit around the $1.99 mark. Given that they're only 50-ish pages and you can have them read in less than half an hour, that's really poor value for money.

3. They're only available in e-book form.
This is fine for me - I have a Kindle. A lot of people don't have an e-reader or an Amazon account. They rely on libraries or loans from friends for their reading material. But librarians aren't going to spend their hard earned budgets on such short stories, particularly if they're not available through the e-book client that the library uses. Publishing between-the-numbers books automatically cuts off a section of the readership from the stories that authors are telling.

4. They don't add a damned thing.

We already know how a particularly scene went down. We don't need to read that Love Interest thought Main Character was really pretty the first time he saw her, because Love Interest already told her that in the original book. We don't need the same dialogue rehashed again but with an "I felt nervous" instead of a "He looked nervous". It doesn't actually add anything at all to the story.

5. They contain material that should be in the main books.
If a 0.5 book provides world building, that should be in the main books. If it tells us how a character's life changed forever, that should be in the main books. If it contains back story that can completely change the way the reader views a character and their actions throughout the series to date? THAT IS MATERIAL THAT SHOULD BE IN THE MAIN BOOKS. Because when you then change the relationship between two characters in a subsequent book because the reader is now meant to be sympathetic towards a particular character based on the content of a 0.5 book? It's WTF-worthy to readers who haven't had access to that story.

There are a multitude of other ways to engage with readers in the period between book publication dates. And I really wish authors would embrace them...

What do you think? Do you like 0.5 novellas? Do you like when they include information and back story that we don't get in the main series? HELP ME UNDERSTAND THEIR APPEAL!! 

K xx

8 comments:

  1. Some, that are just short stories in between main books in the series, are ok. Although the ones I've read seem to clock more at 100-150 pages, only read a comparative
    handful that are around 50

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  2. I've actually never heard of these. What's an example of one?

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  3. I think sometimes they're fun. With the Steampunk Chronicles they can be good. I actually enjoyed the novella with Jack Dandy more than Girl with the Iron Touch. But on the other hand, they can be a waste of time too. Or I actually am excited to read The Bane Chronicles which go with The Mortal Instruments which are being complied into one book. (I love Magnus Bane!) Yet, if they aren't adding anything and are simply there to make money, I'll do without them.

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  4. Haha! I love this. ;) I'm kind of with you...I have the short-novella-thingies for Throne of Glass, but only because they're in a book form. I agree that it's shocking value for money. And I really just don't see the point. Maybe I just haven't gotten into them yet?? I haven't read ANY yet, that I can think of. I was really sad when all the Shatter Me books had ended, but did I want extra novellas? Nope. I'm fine.

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  5. Yeah, I'm tempted to get the Throne of Glass novellas now that they've been published in book form. I mean, I have the novella compilations from the Women of the Otherworld series, but I kind of feel differently about them because they were freebies on the author's website before they were published en masse...

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  6. Oh, they can definitely be fun. But I still get cranky about them, because you're juuuuuuuuuuuust getting into how fun they are and then it's all over. And you paid $2 for it. Sigh.

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  7. There's the novellas from the Shatter Me series - Destroy Me and Fracture Me. And the 0.5 books from Kady Cross' Steampunk Chronicles, The Strange Case of Finley Jayne, The Dark Discovery of Jack Dandy, and The Wild Adventure of Jasper Renn.

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  8. I'm not saying they're badly written or anything. They're not. I just get frustrated when I just start to get excited about a story, then turn the page and it's all over. Even if they're around the 100 page mark, it's not enough time to suitably tell a story.

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