This post follows up on a little mini-rant on twitter the other day about how every series now comes with little novellas between books.
I pretty much hate these extra stories. I’ve read a few (Wicked Lovely’s Stopping Times and Old Habits; Delirium’s Anabel, Hana, and Raven; Newsflesh’s Countdown; Fallen’s Fallen in Love) and I’ve decided I am not reading anymore. Here’s why.
They rarely move the story forward, but instead add a level of detail to a character or an event that wasn’t included in an actual official book in that series. Or they tell the same story from someone else’s perspective. They are not necessary to the story.
As such, they seem like a money-making scam. It seems like publishers see how much money a series is bringing in and decide, let’s see how much money we can get out of these suckers. Now, I know that publishing is a for-profit industry and no one is in it just for the joy of books. I am happy to pay for a book. But do I really want to shell out another $2 for a few dozen pages every other week? It’s sort of like how I feel about the new trend of breaking the last installment in a book series into two movies. You, movie studio, are only doing that to make money. Admit it.
They make me anxious. To be fair, all of the books that exist in the world that I want to read already make me anxious. But if I add all of these little novellas to my TBR pile, it’s certainly not helping things. There is simply not enough time in the world for me to keep up with every series I am reading AND read those 40 extra pages that no one thought important enough to actually put in the book. But skipping them also makes me anxious. I loathe reading things out of order. And skipping something that might have the tiniest chance of being important to the story makes me nervous. So it’s a lose-lose here on the reading anxiety front.
I can see why some people might like them (you do get even more of your favorite series, right?), but these people must have different priorities from me because every series seems like it is doing this and I just can’t possibly keep up.
- The Lunar Chronicles has 3 novellas.
- Shade (Jeri-Smith Ready) has 2.
- Newsflesh has 4.
- Divergent has 5.
- Across the Universe has 1.
- Shades of London has 1.
- Daughter of Smoke and Bone has 1.
I would list these as some of my favorite series. But I will not (and, really, cannot) read 17 novellas plus all the ones that have yet to be published. I just won’t. (Okay, I’m a little tempted to read that last one because I love Zuzana so much).
So, I’m putting my foot down. I can’t make the publishing industry stop this trend, but I can stop taking part in it. Unless JK Rowling wants to write one for Harry Potter, or unless someone makes a really compelling argument for an exception, I won’t be reading anymore of these things that are not really part of the series. Publishers, if a story is really important, please make it a real book.
I don’t even like books in a series, now THAT makes me anxious, like the story never ends and I have to keep going. I agree the novella fad is not one I want to jump on.
I think it is about money in a different way than you think. They are really promotional tools to remind you about the series you love and maybe get you to preorder the next installment because you are hooked on always getting more.
And then they are released later as their own book…I’ll just wait until then. 🙂 If at all.
I only ever read the Newsflesh novellas because I wanted to read everything available set in that world. Most of the time I don’t bother with novellas and don’t feel like I’m missing out. Anything vital should be included in the main novels, imo.
Loved your post, Michelle! I agree with you on Rowling / Harry Potter – if there is going to be a novella there, I would love to read it.
Haha I totally agree with this!! I read the Delirium ones and while I enjoyed them at the time, looking back they were a total waste of money. They didn’t add anything substantial to the series for me and I just spent money on 20 pages I’ll never read again. I didn’t know Divergent had them but I won’t bother to pick them up anyway.
I work for a publisher that does mostly nonfiction (we have a very small fiction imprint) and we often discuss the ebook short as an opportunity get a reader that we might not have had before. So, for example, we have a book on a certain topic, but you just need one chapter. You can read the chapter that’s most useful to you, then if you find it to be exceptionally useful, you’ll buy the whole book, hopefully! So it’s kind of approaching it from the opposite angle. These series novellas are a good way for authors to experiment or get something they really wanted in the story but had to cut out in the world, and it’s a good way for a publisher to make a little money with relatively little work. They’re mainly for people who are already familiar with the series and obsessed.
Novellas can be really fun, but I rarely buy them – fortunately my downloadable library system gets them quite often! I did buy the Daughter of Smoke & Bone novella – totally worth it, as Zuzana is a wonderful character and it’s humorous and romantic, very well done. And if you’re interested in the Cinder ones (also really good) you can read them for free on Wattpad, no scamming for more money there 🙂