Let’s talk for a moment about the freedom that the ebook revolution is bringing, for every writer, no matter how they are published. I love that trad-pub authors are starting to jump in and take advantage of the freedoms that indie publishing allows: writing novellas, writing off-brand, trying new things.
Detractors of ebooks and self-publishing focus on the downside of publishing anything you want, but authors (both self-pub and trad-pub) are just beginning to explore the upside of publishing anything you want. While many authors have focused on indie publishing the novels that were originally trad-pub bound, we’re just beginning to move into the era where works are being created solely, from conception to completion, for publication as ebooks.
I think of the ebook revolution as a cauldron of innovation. And it’s just getting started.
Playing with length: a proliferation of short stories, anthologies, prequels, after-stories, novellettes, novellas. Long novels, short novels. The byword seems to be: whatever length fits the story. As it should be!
Serialization: a series of shorter works (any length), that tell a story in episodic fashion, like a TV series. This is not a novel broken into pieces, any more than a TV series is a movie broken into pieces. It is a form that’s being revitalized (see All About Serials…).
Companion books: mining the research already done to produce a novel or series, authors are branching sideways, writing companion stories, background material. My Mindjack Origins short stories are based on this concept of branching sideways, writing about secondary characters and their origin stories.
Mixing formats: short stories tagged onto novels; shorts mixed with poetry.
Playing with price: authors using different price points, including free, to entice new readers, either with novels or short stories or anthologies. Free works best with introductory material to a series.
Playing with genre: literary novels, poems, other less-commercial forms are finding a new home in ebooks. Old forms (Pulp Fiction) are being revitalized. A lot of authors switch genres, crossing from YA to adult and vice versa. Switching from SF to mystery to romance. Sometimes they use pennames, sometimes not. (See Author Brand in the Age of Indie.)
This kind of freedom is equally open to trad-pub authors (assuming you don’t have a non-compete clause in your contract) as it is to self-published authors. And is one reason why any contracts I sign in the future (see Please Say No To Bad Contracts) will not have non-compete clauses.
This freedom comes with the problem of dreaming up too many things you want to try, and not having the time to do them all. But that’s been a problem all along for most writers.