Kindle Unlimited (KU) is a challenge for many authors. The big question: should you enroll your ebooks in KDP Select, and thereby share them with KU subscribers free? Or should you go wide — that is, publish your ebooks to all the ebook retailers you can find?
It’s a challenge. KU can cannibalize your sales, as I mentioned in Ebook Sales: Tips To Help You To Get Out Of A Sales Slump:
If your ebook sales are tanking because you’re Amazon-exclusive, that could be a reason. I’m a fan of KDP Select, because it means that your ebooks are in Kindle Unlimited (KU), which means that they’re free for subscribers. You get paid by pages read.
However, over time, you can watch your sales drop. Your KU freebies are cannibalizing sales, and your pages-read payments aren’t keeping pace.
The big question for many authors: “In light of pages read, should I write a novel, or short stories?” This question is important to authors who are considering doing NaNoWriMo this year; NaNoWriMo is coming up again. In the time you spend writing a novel, you could be writing a dozen short stories.
The big benefit of writing short stories of course, is that you have more ebooks for sale on Amazon, and elsewhere, if you’re going wide.
Write a novel, or write short stories?
Let’s look at NaNoWriMo first. As I said in Write a Novel in a Month: 5 Tips for Making NaNoWriMo Worth the Effort:
…writing takes energy. Time really is money, for a writer. If you’re making $100 per hour, you’re investing $3,100 in NaNoWriMo. Is that a wise investment for you, at this time?
Only you know the answer to that. You know how much income you need to make. NaNoWriMo has many benefits, not the least of which is that it pushes you to move out of your comfort zone. Indeed that may be the single best reason to enter NaNoWriMo. Very few writers write anywhere near their potential.
The difference between a short story, and a novel
Many of my novels (bless them) start out as short stories. If I find that I keep adding interesting characters, and want to continue writing about these characters, I need to rethink the short story, and face the fact that it’s a novel. So that’s the primary difference between a short story, and a novel; more characters.
Saying that “a novel has more people in it” isn’t especially useful however. A better answer might be: “the main character is on a journey of change. Over the course of the novel, his worldview changes.” Or you could say: “A novel explores a theme deeply, usually through a character, or characters.”
I’m currently reading Hilary Mantel’s A Place of Greater Safety, in which she explores the theme of the French Revolution through three of its major players.
I can’t resist sharing a tiny snippet from this wonderful novel, which offers lots more entertainment than you’d expect:
“This made him uneasy. He feared, in his secret heart, that one day in company the baby would sit up and speak; that it would engage his eyes, appraise him, and say, ‘You prick.’”
Your definitions of a short story, and a novel, are up to you. You get to decide. We’re not literary critics — we’re authors.
Trust your instincts.
Start writing: if you keep writing, you’re writing a novel
I’ve been guiding many authors via our Team Up program as they write their first novels. Convincing them that they can trust themselves is a challenge. Once they discover that they have a creative self, which knows, my work is done.
Yesterday, in Writing For Money: 4 Secrets, I said:
Keep writing: set a daily word count, and KEEP PRODUCING
You’ve written an ebook. Keep writing. Set yourself a daily word count, and produce. Every day. You may not produce as much because you’re editing the book you’ve just completed. That’s OK.
Planning and thinking about writing isn’t writing. Outlining and researching isn’t writing.
Only writing is writing, and only your writing will tell you whether you’re writing a short story, or a novel.
The biggest mistake I see all writers making — both fiction and nonfiction writers, is that they don’t write enough. Keep a journal. Write. Let your writing be what it wants to be.
Over time, you’ll start to trust yourself. You will know that even on your worst day you can write, and that your writing will take you where you want to go.
Novel going nowhere? Guess what, it’s a short story (or stories)
A short story can grow up to be a novel. 🙂
A novel can shrink, too — if it’s a short story, novella, or collection of stories, so be it.
Today, you’re in charge. You have complete control of your career. No editor from a major publishing house can tell you, after months of work: “It’s not coming together. Maybe you could try something else?”
I was writing happily along on my current novel this morning. I planned three more scenes. Suddenly I realized that I was gilding the lily. The novel was done. I wrote a final scene, and called it good. Tomorrow, I’ll start a new novel.
Yes, the novel is a few thousand words shorter than I expected it would be, but so what? Today, you get to decide what you’re writing.
In summary: write what you like. Let your writing tell you what it is. Just write. Kindle Unlimited is a real boon for authors. All that matters is how many pages your readers read. Make your fiction, at whatever length, worth reading.
Kindle Short Fiction Domination: Today’s Blueprint For Writing Success And Income (4-week class)
Want to write short fiction and build a successful career? For the first time in decades, it’s possible to write short stories and make a great income. Each week, for four weeks, you receive a new lesson, in PDF format, via a download link sent to your email inbox.
As we move through the class, you’re not only writing your own short stories, you’re also discovering the Kindle short fiction BLUEPRINT… What to publish, and when, so that your Amazon income steadily increases. Join us. 🙂