But before we come to the main point, I have to put that in some context by mentioning some ebook sales.
My “The $0.99 Ubuntu Beginner’s Guide” in May sold 65 copies, in June 165 copies, and so far in July has sold 62 copies. For a self-published eBook, this is crazy freaking awesome. It is astonishing. I have never, not ever, had a successful book before – it feels something like this, to be honest.
In fact, I’m going to turn it into a series, the “$0.99 Beginner’s Guide” series of computer books.
Here’s the thing, though – “The $0.99 Ubuntu Beginner’s Guide” is only 30,000 words long or so. It doesn’t need to be any longer (though I will expand it with a second edition in a few months), since 30k words covers the topic adequately, and further “Beginner’s Guides” will weigh in at about 20,000 to 30,000 words, I think.
This is a revelation to me – that something can be short, and still sell.
Which brings us to the main point – why this is such a revelation to me.
Back in high school and college, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and neither the Kindle nor the iPod was yet a twinkle in Amazon’s and Apple’s respective eyes, I used to really enjoy writing novellas – stories longer than a short story but shorter than a proper novel. Think 15,000 to 30,000 words. In fact, the first story I ever wrote was a novella about 18,000 words long. To this day, I really like the form – long enough to tell a complete story, but short enough that you don’t have to compress things or get gimmicky. And I’ve always wanted to write serials, too – a series of novellas, or longer short stories.
But then I got older and I wanted to get published, and I quickly realized that hardly anyone bought novellas. I tried to sell a few, repeatedly, but never did. So I switched to short stories and novels, and haven’t attempted to write anything of novella length for years. Which is part of the reason I enjoy “Choose Your Own Adventure” so much – it’s exactly the length of story that I like to write.
But, ah. That was a different epoch. In our bold new world of electronic publishing, you can write whatever you want. Or whatever you think readers want. And a 15,000 to 25,000 word story priced at $0.99 (or $1.99, if you prefer) is a perfect fit. It can augment and supplement an existing novel series. Or it can stand alone.
Look for novella experiments in the very near future, my friends. I’m rather excited about it.