Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Putting Novellas In Packages...

At some point in the next few months, I'm going to put out a new novella "Son of Grendel," which is set in the world of my novel Battle for the Wastelands roughly a year or so before the book begins. The cover has already been completed by artist Matt Cowdery, who did the cover for Battle and the upcoming sequel.

However, in order to get 70% royalties on Amazon, one has to charge $2.99 or more per book. That's easy to justify with a full novel, but harder with a shorter work. A 70% royalty on a $2.99 e-book is $2.10 or so, but 35% royalty on a $1.99 e-book is $0.70. That's no way to make money. And if I've got a quality cover and had the formatting done professionally, that's a lot of costs to cover even at a higher royalty before I make a profit.

Consequently, although I'm going to release "Son of Grendel" as a standalone since most of the work has already been done (I just need to do writing group revisions, perhaps add a couple new scenes, and then have it formatted for e-book), future novellas set in the worlds of Battle or The Thing in the Woods will be released in packages of three.

(I've got to give credit to Delilah S. Dawson, Kevin Hearne, and Chuck Wendig for the concept--they released three novellas in a package called Three Slices.)

Not only can putting three novellas together into something approximately novel-length justify charging a novel-equivalent price, but I can print the book to sell at conventions. That's how I make most of my writing money anyway, so having more to sell is always a plus.

I even have ideas for what the first three-novella package will look like. It'll be entitled Warriors: Three Novellas of the Wastelands or something to that effect and will feature the following stories:

*I'd lead with "Son of Grendel," since it would be the first one published. Falki Grendelsson, heir to the first lord of the Northlands, is sent on a counterinsurgency mission and things don't go according to plan.

*Next comes "Ruled in Rage," which is approximately a fifth written right now. It's Grendel's origin story--how he adopts the name, how he meets his right hand Alexander Matthews, and how he begins to walk the trail of blood that will someday make him the ruler of the known world. Although he's in his teens, we'll see a lot of the traits that mark him in middle age--his cunning, his lechery, etc. The title is an allusion to Beowulf, which is heavily tied into the Wastelands' series overarching plot.

*The third novella is tentatively titled "A Valkyrie Is Born," but that's probably going to change. The Valkyries are part of Norse mythology and thus more associated with Grendel and his Sejeran (Norse) allies, plus the title is a bit on the long side. This is a story of Alyssa Carson, Andrew's love interest from the first book, and her family's...grotesque...encounter with the cannibalistic Flesh-Eating Legion after the fall of the Merrills.

*Alternatively, the third novella could be "A Creature of the Fall." This one takes place over a decade before Battle and will feature Alonzo Merrill in his very early teens and his serious-minded elder brother John. There will be battle with the Flesh-Eaters, a great big hint as to what happened to end the Old World, and perhaps the dirigible bombing of the Flesh-Eater capital that gives their overlord Jasper Clark such a massive grudge against the Merrills.

Given the potential for some of these stories to grow into full novels (most likely to happen with "Ruled"), having different options for the third novella is always a good idea. I could make a package of four--two stories from the villains and two from the heroes--but that'd risk it getting too long. Realistically I'd probably save "Creature" for a future installment, especially since including an Alyssa story would prevent the collection from being a boys' club and I want to foreshadow the reason for the Fall closer to the final book.