What’s Your Problem?

I have this weird science fiction fantasy crossover series. It sells much, much better than all the rest, altogether. So it’s a good thing that it’s fun to write in.

The problem is that the world, multiverse, in this case, keeps expanding and getting more complex and now I’ve got all these things happening at about the same time, with occasionally interacting groups of characters. The last three books had my beta readers complaining of slow starts because I keep introducing new people, and when I finally cycle back to the first group, they’ve nearly forgotten what they’re doing and why.

I sat back and looked it over, and realized I was packing so many subplots in that not only was the main problem hard to sort out from the rest, it was nearly impossible to identify a main character. It seemed like every single character had a different problem.

For the first book, I ripped out some threads, and then expanded and added scenes with the main character POV. I made the other threads interact more often and made that interaction important to the main story line. I think it worked.

But the terms “chaotic” and “confusing” keep showing up in reviews. Time to try something a bit different.

So, I’m now in the process of turning two novels into seven stories of various lengths. In my rough ripping, they vary from 10K to 41K. As I write in the transitions and develop the main characters of each story, I may well wind up with three shortish novels and four novellas.

Well, they’ll be less chaotic and confusing. Whether they’ll sell as well as the full length novels do, is something I’ll find out through experience.

On the marketing, several problems and possibilities are immediately obvious. How do I price a “less complex” shorter novel? With all the added material, there will be more words, more story, and more character development in the seven than the original two novels, so I won’t feel too guilty if the total adds up to more than the two novels. But will the readers agree?

And then there’s KU. For me, this will be a win, since Amazon is paying the same for short titles as long. So far. I’ll have seven titles available, instead of two. I am, of course, making the crass assumption that anyone borrowing one, will return to get them all. Umm, maybe I shouldn’t count my chicks quite yet?

And then there’s those pesky author ratings. From what I’ve seen, from others’, getting into the top thousand seems to generate enough notice and sales to keep one up there. If I horde these seven stories, and release them all at once will that do the trick? It seems like every new book bounces me into the top 2000, so surely . . .

Bah. Humbug. I hate marketing. I shall try the seven story blitz, and report on the results, if any, when it happens.

So. Anyone else have any bright ideas?

What’s your problem? đŸ™‚

Oh, the obligatory self promo:
A simpler story:

And the one described as chaotic:


  1. I’m in the opposite position. I just combined a number of linked short stories into a novel, and had to pull the plot into a coherent thread. The sub-plots have been running for several books now, but getting everything to work together? I think it makes sense. I’ll let it sit and go back over it before inflicting, er, asking my alpha readers to take a look.

    1. My problem was losing the main problem and the main character in the tangle of sub plots. The problem with combining short stories into a novel is to figure out which problem is the main one, or to add in an over arching story problem that the characters solve in the end.

      1. I got lucky. My subconscious, and a good friend’s aside a few years ago, provided the plot arc that just had to be excavated a little more clearly. More foreshadowing, adding some bits, trimming others, and cutting out some cutsy experimentation took the most time. Apparently my subconscious was working on a novel while my forebrain thought it was just connected short stories. Granted, my forebrain was a wee bit busy with grad school at the time, so it has an excuse.

  2. Robert Jordan, is that you? I didn’t realize there were so many of these. I loved the first one. Not sure I’ll buy the next 15 now, but I’ll start!

    As a reader, I don’t really care for short stories; they’re over too soon. Anthologies can grab me. I especially like multiple author’s in one author’s universe types. The 1632 universe may have taken that concept a bit too far.

    I’m still finding my price-points on e-books. For paperbacks, the price/weight ratio needed to be right. I still have no intuitive grasp of the size of an e-book, so I’m a bit price-insensitive (i.e. if I like it I’ll buy it unless it is crazy expensive).

    I do not like the Amazon layout. Just searched for you. It seems to have found everything, but there is absolutely no clue as to book size. First result is Outcasts and Gods for $4.99. Second result is Warriors of the One for $0.99. They look identical, otherwise.

    It takes a click-thru to find that the first is 474 pages and the second is 35 pages. That is very annoying and since it is highly unlikely that they are weirdly priced (and I’m certainly not going to say “book 5 is too expensive for its length, so I’m skipping to book 6”), I’m just going to buy them from the search page without looking at length.

    There’s a potential marketing tool: Price everything the same and hope no one notices the length. Probably not a good idea.

    For what it’s worth.

    1. Oh yes. The only reason to not have a range of prices acording to size is when you put something on sale or free. I’m aiming for the total cost of the seven stories to be close to the price of the two large novels I’ve unraveled.

      My rule of thumb is $0.99 for short stories. $2.99 for novellas–I think my cut off is around 15 k words. Then $3.99 to $5.99 depending on the length. With this (ahem)less than robust recovery, I may drop all the larger sized novels down to $4.99.

      1. Amazon’s weird–the first Pam Uphoff I see is Barton Street Gym, maybe because that’s the last one I bought? (Followed by Demi God, which I don’t have, then Exiles and Gods, which I do . . .)
        So you know how they say Wine of the Gods Book #, could ‘a novel’, ‘a novella’, ‘a short story’, or something like that be put in that subtitle or whatever Amazon calls it? Would that be helpful to buyers and feasible for authors?

        1. I _think_ they list them according to recent sales. I dunno. Amazon only just finally started putting in the series numbers with the series name. Getting them to put more info in the short list . . . well, maybe someday. It’s not something authors can control, unless they changed that in the last couple of months.

  3. Waldo & Magic, Incorporated might offer a partial solution. Two totally unrelated novellas, released in a single book form, and still a single book even now.
    And with respect to KU, I think you can count those chicks, at least as far as your fanbase goes.
    So: at what point did you realize comments were turned off? Was that a subtle marketing strategy?(Snarf snarf)
    With respect to marketing, my single original thought on the matter is this: No matter how good your marketing strategy, there’s just not a whole lot of demand for frozen cat urine on a stick. Your product, on the other hand, is nutritious, filling, tasty, and non-fattening, so I think you’ll continue to sell the heck out of it.
    As a matter of fact, I’m next in line.

  4. I’ve got a couple of collections out that I think work well together. _Exiles and Gods_ and _Growing Up Magic_. _A Taste of Wine_, on the otherhand, is a mess I threw together because everyone kept asking about things that I had written but not published.

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