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?