I’ve been meaning to get this baby tapped out, but it’s that time of year. Now, I’m glad I didn’t, because I’ve found something better to talk about besides sale results (I’ll get to that next time). This is a topic I’ve seen come up in various posts over the last few months about “Novella Series” versus “Stand Alone Novel.”
A trio of well known authors were accused of being “greedy” for writing a series of novellas, rather than putting the whole story in just one book. I know, that was my first reaction, too! But the truth is, readers have no idea what it takes to put a novel together – just like most of us have no clue what it took to build our house (not just lumber & nails, but zoning permits, environmental studies and structural engineers). Again, we’re on two different sides of the same coin. One side knows how to create the product that the other side enjoys to use, it’s that simple and that symbiotic.
This won’t be a rant or even a defensive post. I thought it was a great topic to discuss here, because have you even thought about which length you would prefer to write or why? Did you set out to write one length, only to end up with the other? Have you weighed the cost/potential profit for each?
What REALLY makes an author decide to cut their story up into a series? Is it the inability to keep things simple (guilty) or an attempt to make more money? Well, let’s break this down and have a look:
Stand Alone Novel (50,000-150,000 words):
Professional editors charge per word. I have the best editor on the planet – not only because she’s amazing at what she does, but in support of Indie Authors, she keeps her rates extremely low. You would be hard pressed to find her skills for less. For comparison, here are the standard prices, low prices, and my editor’s prices:
50-150,000 x $0.12/per word = $6,000-$18,000 (the top professional editors charge between $.10-$.12 cents per word).
50-150,000 x $0.04/per word = $2,000-$6,000 (This is the median price for The Book Butchers, but they have one cheaper at $0.02/per word, and one more expensive package at $0.06/per word, depending on what you want).
50-150,000 x $0.008/per word = $400-$1,200 (This is my editor, Monique the Editrix – Believe it or not, this is her most expensive package. She goes as low as $0.003/per word for her smallest package – and she’s worth a lot more than she charges!)
1 Cover: You have the choice of making your own for the cost of the stock photo, buying pre-made or ordering a custom made.
- Stock photo: $35/mo. membership – OR a one time fee of $12-$45 depending on the photo and size.
- Pre-made: $45-$90 depending on the site.
- Custom: Upward to $499
I used Deranged Doctor Design for Avarice & Unforgiving. I paid $145/per eBook cover, but they have just increased their prices to $199/per eBook ($239 for eBook+Print). They have bundle deals for a LOT of services and everything is Custom Made.
1 Book Tour: $75 for a Release Blitz is fairly standard
1 Cover Reveal Tour: $75 is about standard
1 Blog Tour: $150-$175 is about standard
*Note: Some promotional sites are starting to increase their prices, but again, the more you bundle, the more you save!
1 Book to Market: Varies depending on how you market. Facebook, Goodreads and Amazon Ads for self-promoting, I do believe are a minimum of $50 that gets reduced by $0.10-$0.50 cents per bid/click, or they have professional marketing options if you want to spend a minimum of $5,000.
Grand Total (50k words): $510 (cheapest editing, stock photo membership, Release Blitz only) – $6,874 (everything with most expensive cover and editing)
Novella Series (25,000-45,000):
Multiply all the Stand Alone Novel costs by however many books are in your series, with the exception of your word count. Here’s a 3 book example:
3 Covers @ $199 = $597
3 Cover Reveals @ $75 = $225
3 Release Day Blitz’s @ $75 = $225
3 Blog Tours @ $175 = $525
3 Ads @ $50 = $150
25-45,000 x $0.12/per word = $3,00-$5,400 x 3 books = $9,000-$16,200
25-45,000 x $0.04/per word = $1,000-$1,800 x 3 books = $3,000-$5,400
25-45,000 x $0.008/per word = $200-$360 x 3 books = $600-$1,080
Grand Total (25k words): $1,422 (covers, cheapest editing & Release Blitz only) – $10,722 (everything with most expensive editing)
I hope you all know how much I love you, that I just did all that math for you. My worst subject!
Notice I didn’t include the cost for professional Interior Layout Formatting, because I do my own, so if that is one of your costs, tack on another $45-$75 /per book depending on who you use.
As you can see, it actually costs MORE in the long run to write a series, than it does to write a stand alone novel. So if you’re thinking about doing a series to make more money, think again.
However, novellas allow us to publish at a much lower cost right now. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have thousands of dollars lying around waiting for me to spend on producing one book. Even at my editor’s super-low rates, I am hard pressed to pay for cover/editing/marketing/book tour/giveaway (that’s over $600/per book) at once- just for my small novellas, but at least it gives me the opportunity to publish at all!
Which is how Avarice went from one full-length novel to three shorter novellas. Sorry about the cliffhangers, y’all, but I’m a broke a$$ writer! 😀
Unless you make it big, a very rare occurrence, no 1 single book – full length or novella – will give you an immediate return on the cost you put into it (the exception of course, being that you are Super Indie; a writer, editor, interior formatter, graphic artist and writer of HTML with tons of blog followers all in one. In that case – Go YOU!)
Avarice is $1.99, which Amazon only pays 35% royalties for. I would have to sell over 208 books just to make up the cost of my cover alone–before taxes–that doesn’t include editing and marketing. I could try to sell at 100% royalties through my own e-commerce website, but I’d have to consider the cost of a web designer, domain name and the fact that it would still never get the kind of traffic Amazon gets.
That doesn’t mean the idea is completely off the table, though. You just have to choose which route works best for you – and try them all! That’s the wonderful thing about being Indie, you have so many options and the freedom to change your mind when one doesn’t work out. 🙂
But, I’ll let you do all the cost/profit calculations for your own books. I’m done with numbers for the time being! LOL
♥ This is only one reason why an author might decide to write a Novella Series or Stand Alone Novel. If you have a different reason for your preference, please share with us in the comments below!