In this information-saturated society, the advent of e-readers has presented more opportunities for writers than ever before. Not only is it easier for an author to publish his or her work, but also the demand exists for works of all lengths. Who is the target market for e-reader shorts? Commuters, workers on break, younger readers with shorter attention spans, and those people who want to sample an author’s work without committing themselves to a pricier longer-length novel?
So where’s the rub?
Around the water cooler, I’ve been hearing authors bemoan lackluster reviews for their shorts stories, novelettes and novellas. “I would have rated this story higher, but it was too short,” or “I wanted more,” seems to be the most frequent reaction.
Is what we have here “a failure to communicate” (to paraphrase “Cool Hand Luke”) between reader and author? If the reader’s reaction is disappointment (even though the work is clearly labeled for page number, and priced accordingly) should authors be writing these shorts at all?
Okay. Time to assess.
Some authors release free prequels to longer-length works as a successful sales technique, but I’m not certain if this is exactly the same thing. Are these prequels ‘samples’ or completed stories? Does it matter? Is free the critical factor?
When I write a fantasy short, I try to establish the characters quickly and effectively and thereafter focus on one caper or adventure. The pace is quicker, but there still must be a character arc and a satisfying ending. I can write these shorts in a relatively short period, but I take all the time I need to create a work of which I can be proud.
I’d love to hear YOUR opinion on shorts. Do you think shorts are worth writing? Do you buy shorts or would you only purchase one if it were free? When you finish a great short do you react with a sigh of satisfaction or do you have the urge to throw your e-reader across the room in frustration?
My inquiring mind wants to know.
~ S.G. Rogers