Internet algorithms used on places like Amazon, Youtube, and Google always favour new content from active creators. The more eyeballs you get on your content, the more visible it’ll become, whether that’s placing it higher up in searches or featuring it in suggestions more often. It’s a system designed to reward good content, and it works well for those who are constantly creating.
But what if you’re writing novels? You can’t exactly knock those out in quick fashion, and an unknown author releasing one new book every six months isn’t going to get much love from the algorithms. After the initial spike at launch, the constant stream of newer releases will push the book down the rankings until it face-plants the bedrock of forgotten hopes and dreams, leaving little hope of making a living for the starving author.
So this got me to thinking. What could I do with my writing that lets me put out regular content while still writing the stories I enjoy? After all, I’m not trying to get a novel published in the traditional manner, so why not experiment with the format? The answer I came up with was releasing regular novellas or short story collections, something shorter and quicker to read, aimed at people who don’t have time for a novel. After all, most people don’t have the patience these days when they can just load up social media or watch a film instead. The unique spin would be tying the stories together by using a common universe, setting, or theme.
Good idea, right? I thought so. And for a brief, flashing moment I was as pleased as a girl who just discovered pumpkin spice and furry boots. Then I remembered that this is the digital age and anything you come up with has inevitably already been done before.
Enter best-selling author James Patterson and his BookShots, ‘all-new, original stories that feature a complete, cinematic storytelling experience in 150 pages.’
To quote this Independent article from back in March, ‘The Alex Cross author has announced he is to target those who never pick up a book by releasing up to four short novels – all readable in a few hours – every month, which will be available from Amazon and local shops.’
So my idea isn’t original, oh well. I think it has potential in this culture of distraction though, where everyone has their eyes glued to their phone in Wall-E fashion, and clearly millionaire author James Patterson thinks something similar. Everyone I’ve bounced the idea off has told me it’s promising, and I’m genuinely excited about giving it the old college try. I’m still figuring out the details, like deciding what sort of release schedule I’ll set myself so I can still dedicate time to writing novels (I’m not a team of writers like Patterson, after all).
So, good idea? Stupid idea? Is shorter fiction making a comeback? Or does the idea make you want to vomit? Let me know what you think in the comments.