Your Thoughts On E-Shorts

28/06/2017 Discussions, Reading 17

Your Thoughts on E-shorts

Recently whilst I was perusing Amazon for something new to read, I spotted a new trend: e-shorts. That is short stories written by an author, usually tying in with their main series, that are available to buy in ebook form for a small price (generally 99p, or equivalent).

When I started looking into it, I saw that loads of authors have released e-shorts, even authors I’m a fan of and I hadn’t even known! Alison Weir, for example, has released some in conjunction with her Six Tudor Queens series, Renee Ahdieh has published a couple connected to the Wrath and Dawn series, J.K. Rowling has done something similar with her Pottermore Presents ebooks… I also know that Jodi Picoult has published e-shorts, as has Veronica Roth, and the list just goes on and on. I genuinely can’t believe I hadn’t noticed this!

I really like the idea of getting more of the characters or worlds I love, so at first, I was pretty excited about this new world of e-shorts. There’s always those side characters after all that you’re just dying to know more about, and e-shorts can give you the chance to find out their story.

But at the same time, after I purchased and read one, I found myself wondering if they’re much more of a promotional tool than anything else. For example, I read The Blackened Heart by Alison Weir, and it was an interesting short story focusing on a more minor character from Katherine of Aragon: The True Queen. The only problem I had with it was that about 35% of the book was just a preview of the latest book in the series.

I mean, I can’t fault authors for doing this, as it’s certainly a good idea for a marketing tool, but at the same time I felt slightly misled. Whilst I got the story I paid for, it wasn’t as long as I thought it would be from the ‘number of pages’ indicated on Amazon, because so much of it was a preview for a book I intend to buy and read anyway. I think it would have worked just as well as both a promotional tool, and a standalone piece of writing, without such a large percentage of it being a preview of a much longer work.

So if it’s just a promotional tool, is it worth the admittedly very minimal price tag? There are full novels available on Amazon for the same price (and I certainly moaned enough about the price of ebooks here), but if it gives you half an hour’s enjoyment with some of your favourite characters and you get to support a much-loved author then surely it’s worth it?

I definitely intend to try some more just to get a scope for what they’re like, and to see if e-shorts by other authors are as heavy on the promotion. Possibly I think making free short stories featuring the characters from your main series would also make a good promotional tool as an author, seen as you stand more chance of bringing in new readers, but on the whole I love the idea of e-shorts (plus they do wonders for my Goodreads Challenge!)!

But what do you think? Had you also been oblivious to this new trend of publishing e-shorts? What do you think of the idea? Have you read any, and what did you think?

17 Responses to “Your Thoughts On E-Shorts”

  1. TeacherofYA

    I find it more of a promo tool: they are so short that they should be free! I bought one for $.99 and it was 12 pages!
    So I think while you can love the series and want more, I would wait for the library or wait until maybe a free promo day?
    Great post btw! No one discusses this!

    • Laura

      Yeah, after buying one I personally felt it was more of a promo tool too, although I think it was a little longer than 12 pages (that is so short!). It definitely wasn’t the 37 pages promised on Amazon though! I may try out some more, but I probably will look out for some free promo days. Thanks for commenting! 🙂

  2. Greg

    I haven’t read many but I feel the same- if I know in advance that it’s going to be largely a preview I might be less inclined to get it. I guess it depends on how bad I want the preview and whatever other story it has. But yes if something has so many pages on amazon and then you realize a lot of that is preview- that would bother me too.

    I don’t see myself buying too many of them…

    • Laura

      I don’t think I would have been as likely to buy it had I known that so much of it was just preview (and for a book that has now been released, so I can just get the book itself!), as it was super annoying! I’ll maybe try another one by a different author to give them a fair chance, but it does seem that they are mostly for promotional purposes as opposed to being a product in themselves.

  3. Rachel

    I struggle with this for many reasons. While there are some books and authors I LOVE, so I’ll always want more from them, I don’t like not being able to buy a paper version (Carrie Hope Fletcher did this so well as she released a tiny paper version of her short), and I resent having to pay for a short if it’s clearly a promotional tool, or a teaser, or a “treat” for bigger fans. In fact, they would probably get a higher readership if they were free, and then their promotional value would increase (just the thoughts of a marketer). Also, as there are SO many books being published, and my TBR is getting insane, I really don’t like the idea that there’s part of a series out there I haven’t read. Do I need to? Will it make the reading experience more complete? Am I missing out?? Cue all the anxiety! I don’t mind paying for a proper novella I suppose, but a short is usually shorter than that. AND if a bind-up of the novellas is planned, I’ll just wait and buy that. So many thoughts… Lol R xx

    • Laura

      I much prefer paper copies of things too, so that did bother me a little bit! And I totally agree that they would work better as a promotional tool if they were free, largely because you stand a better chance of bringing in new readers who may not have read the main series, but would want to after reading the free short story.
      And I totally get what you mean about not liking there being parts of series out there that you haven’t read, which is probably why I was so interested by these e-shorts. I would much prefer tie-in novellas though. It would feel more like value for money, and probably more like a thing in itself as opposed to a promo tool.

  4. Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

    I usually tend to skip these little additions to a series unless they seem incredibly interesting or relevant. And I agree that it’s annoying if you think you’re getting a certain length of story and it turns out a lot of it is a preview!

    • Laura

      Yeah, it was pretty annoying that so much of it was preview. I should probably skip them too if that’s going to be a common thing, but I’ll probably check out a couple more that look interesting to help me make my mind up 🙂

  5. Jenna @ Falling Letters

    I remember blogging about e-shorts a few years ago. They seem to have gained in popularity since then! The ones I read were fairly substantial – filling in gaps, expanding on minor characters, showing alternate perspectives, etc. It seemed to me those were published because the author had more story to share and could do it easily through a short ebook. I would definitely be disappointed if I purchased an e-short and found it to mostly be a preview of an upcoming novel. That’s not worth it for me.

    • Laura

      They do seem to have got quite popular, so I don’t know why it took me so long to notice that e-shorts were a thing! I like the sound of the more substantial e-shorts that you read where the author just had more story to tell – that was kind of what I was hoping for with the one I bought, so I was a bit annoyed that so much of it was preview. Maybe I’ll just have to make sure to check out more reviews before buying them next time to see if other people thought it was worth buying 🙂

  6. Shannon

    Since I haven’t read very many short stories or novella’s, I’ve yet to come across one with a preview of the next book in it. Normally I would just wait for all the shorts to be released and read them in a bind-up collection. I find them to be fun and they give us a glimpse into the minor characters/villains backstory and include more detail on the world or setting.

    • Laura

      I haven’t yet seen any of the bind-up collections, but I love the idea, so I’m going to watch out for those! I’d love a little collection of shorts in connection to some of my favourite series, and it would feel more like it was worth the money. Thanks for commenting! 🙂

  7. Kristen @ Metaphors and Moonlight

    I’ve read some of these types of things if they were part of a series I really loved, but most of them I’m simply not interested in (a lot of times there about side characters I just don’t care that much about), or I’ve found they’re just not worth the price. Some of them are more than $0.99 even but still super short.

    • Laura

      I’ve definitely seen some e-shorts about side characters that I’m just not bothered about, so I’d give the a miss too, and I’d be reluctant to pay anything over 99p for them. The one I bought was definitely much shorter than I thought it was going to be!

  8. Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight

    So at first, I liked the idea of them. Like “yay, more stories about my favorite characters!” or whatever. And it isn’t even the price that bothers me, or the stupid previews (which I do admit bug me too). It’s that I feel like I can never keep up! Like, series are hard enough as it is. And now I feel like trilogies have morphed into 6-book series of EVERY series, and then you add these random e-shorts and just… NO. It’s too much. Like maybe if it’s a duology or something, I can live with it? But if a series is already 6+ books, I’m probably pretty good on this particular set of characters 😉

    • Laura

      That’s definitely a good point! Series can seem to go on enough as it is, so if you start adding in all this extra little bits it can start to seem like overkill (and get a bit confusing! Especially in regards to the timeline, because a lot of them seem to be – ‘here’s what was going on at the same time as the events of the main book!’). I definitely don’t think I’d read all of the ones to do with even my favourite series – just the ones about side characters I really like, or aspects of the story I’d like to know more about 🙂

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