December 5, 2011

peripheral publications

With only a week until the release of The Clockwork Giant, I’ve decided that I’m going to work on a smaller project before delving into the sequel. I had a thought a few months ago—since there will be a full year between releases of the Chroniker City novels, why don’t I release a novella length short story collection? I could easily write several short stories concerning minor characters from Chroniker City, telling of events that happen between books, without giving away any major plot points of the main story. I’d want the short story collection to tie into the larger story, but I’d also want it to stand on its own, where a reader could pick it up at any time in the series.

I haven’t seen this done before (I’m pretty sure traditional publishers aren’t fond of short story collections), but then again, I’m not as widely read as I’d like to be. My main concern is whether or not readers will want these in-between stories, especially since they won’t follow the main characters. I have plenty of characters and mini-plots to work with. I’d probably write about Solomon, Norris, Harriet, Lyndon, Matron, or Stricket, or any other of the many secondary characters. For those of you who have read my novels, these names should be familiar. And I might even write about characters we haven’t seen yet, who’ve only been mentioned or exist completely outside of the circle of characters in the main story.

If I do write them, I’m not sure how often to release them. I could release one short story collection between each novel at the six month mark, or two at four and eight months, or three at three, six, and nine months. I’m leaning for the two collections between releases, totaling four by the time the series is finished. I could sell them at $0.99 each, and when they’ve all been released, I can release a compilation or just keep them separate. Not sure about that yet. I’m considering three short stories for each, somewhere between 5000 and 10,000 words each.

Those are my thoughts anyway.

So, would readers be interested in those secondary characters, in seeing other aspects of Chroniker City that didn’t make the series? I’d like to think so, but that’s me being optimistic.

What do you think? Would you be interested in peripheral publications? Do you think they’d be popular with fans of the series? Do you think it would keep readers interested in the story between releases?

I’m interested to see what you have to say, so be as honest as possible.


  1. Look up Anne Bishop. She wrote the Black Jewels Trilogy. After the fact, she released two or three short story collections about the main characters of the trilogy. I was unsure if I would like them at first, but I LOVED it and the idea.

    I think after all three novels are out, the sales of the short stories might pick up, but it can only be good to have them out in between to keep readers involved in the story.

  2. As long as you handle the short stories well, which is sounds like you will do, then publishing the novellas can only help in building your fanbase and provide more info for readers who pick a favorite character.

    I think Amanda Hocking did something similar. She wrote the My Blood Approves series but also did a novella about one of the main characters and a love from his past.

  3. Jim Butcher (The Dresden Files guy) published a collection of short stories involving the main character, I believe. There were even notes detailing where the stories fit in with the books.

    I plan to do something similar with my South District books, if I can ever finish one. (The South District is like a fake, magical Chicago.) Some of the stories will involves characters from the books, and others will be new characters entirely. I think a book of short stories or a novella allows you to broaden your literary world without bogging down any one particular work with too many details.

  4. I think it's a great idea for keeping yourself out there and building a fan base. I've heard of some indie publishing companies that actually make this part of the contract--you write so many short stories, provided as free e-downloads, for every novel. Plus, with e-books often being more "impulse" buys, I can imagine someone downloading the short story first as a low-commitment read (timewise and $$wise) falling in love, and wanting more :) I'd be curious to see how it works from a marketing perspective!

  5. Lacey: that's the plan. ;)

    Angela: I hope that you're right. I figure it can't hurt to give readers more to read, right?

    Kristina: Exactly. I can expand on characters that didn't get a whole lot of lime light in the novels. Like Norris.

    Rowenna: I hadn't thought of that. A reader would be more likely to take a chance on a $0.99 short story collection over a $3.99 novel by an author they've never heard of. I do plan on reporting the success or failure of all my marketing efforts, and that'll definitely be on the list.