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Prequel as Marketing Strategy

Discussion in 'Marketing' started by Cargoplayer, Dec 5, 2020.

  1. Cargoplayer

    Cargoplayer Dreamer

    A question on a short story I'm writing, as a prequel to the books. I also have a novella prequel, which I'll use to get people to sign up for my mailing list. But the story would be to direct people to the novels in the first place, and would be free, maybe on Bookfunnel. The question is this: do you think that if readers downloaded that short story, knowing full well that it was a prequel, but it ended with a set up to show that something else will happen in the future, would the readers be unhappy? The story as is is concluded, but they'd need to get the novel if they want to see what happens to the characters. Do you think it that just the fact it was done that way put people off buying the book? Or, if the story was entertaining enough, would they buy the book? Highly hypothetical, but I'm sure it's been done before, don't know if anyone here has experience with it as a strategy.
    A.J. Ponder likes this.
  2. Lynea

    Lynea Sage

    I personally don’t have any experience with it, but I see that authors do it all the time. Especially if they are self-published. I don’t think your readers will be mad. Treat it like a business; they gotta pay to read your best stuff ya know?
    Cargoplayer likes this.
  3. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Auror

    Short stories and novella prequels can be effective in driving interest, and sometimes drawing folks to newsletters.

    With newsletters, often those that join to get something free are not those that will engage in a newsletter, or even open future ones. Most newsletter services have a free account status, until a certain level of members is reached. Culling can be an effective thing to keep under that number (200, 500, 1000, etc.) but sometimes people culled actually do pay attention. Their email is set up such that there is no notification of their opening a newsletter, etc. Also, if you have a large number of active newsletter recipients, the newsletter cost is paid for by sparking sales.

    I think you have it correct in that the short story and novella have to be complete tales in themselves.
    Cargoplayer likes this.
  4. Prince of Spires

    Prince of Spires Inkling

    I think a lot of stories have the question of what happened to the characters built into them. There's always the option of "okay, we won. Now what?" as long as the story of the novella itself reached a satisfying conclusion and that the novella is not required reading for the novel you'll be fine.

    What's more, I think it's the only real way to succesfully use this strategy. With your novella you need to drive people to your novel. These readers are already flooded with free books. They need a reason to spend money on your novel. And the only way to do so is to have some kind of cliffhanger in the novella and to have people enough about the characters to want to find out.

    For what it's worth, I'm a bit sceptical of the strategy. If you're a fast writer then it's a great one (since the novella doesn't cost you much in terms of writing time). But if like me you can get one or two novels out a year then it's a big investment. And I'm not sure it will help you sell a lot. As mentioned, if you're the kind of person who signs up for a mailing list to get a free book, then you likely already have a lot of them. And you're maybe not very interested in actually spending money on books. Which is not the ideal audience. After all, it's not like it actually costs anything to sign up to a newsletter. And you can either ignore the rest of the mails, block them, send them to spam or just unsubscribe.

    Then again, it has worked for some people.So, YMMV.
    Cargoplayer likes this.
  5. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

    A lot of factors, including what market you’re chasing. I tend to agree with the notion that freebie readers tend to read freebies. Does an epic fantasy fan want a novella? Or for that matter, a normal size novel? I recall audiobook commentary on Eve of Snows being that it wasn’t long enough at 15 hours, Which is longer than audio for a 120k word book that publishers tend to draw the kill line at, LOL.

    So, market considerations. That said, it is a popular tactic and must work (or worked in the past) for people. And I guess if you have a short or novella sitting there anyhow, then, what the hell? Give it a go.

    Everything is a crap shoot.
    Cargoplayer likes this.
  6. Ned Marcus

    Ned Marcus Sage

    I don't think it will put people off—although some people will complain whatever. I have a free novelette, which is a prequel to my series. Mostly I get good feedback, but the biggest complaint I get, from those who do complain, is that it's too short. This is after making it clear in several places that it's short.

    It's a novelette (just over 9,000 words) but it still took me some time to write because I wanted to make sure it was as good as I could make it. Whether it was a good investment of time and money (editing and cover) I'm not sure. The read through is poor, but I do get some read through, and some people love it and buy the whole series in one go. So I have mixed feelings about the value as a marketing tool. I also have a short story that I offer for free to people who sign up to my mailing list, which I think helps.
    Cargoplayer likes this.

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