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-   -   Marketing: Short Story Collections vs. Novels (http://forums.srellim.org/showthread.php?t=8391)

kindan Oct 4 2011 05:03 PM

Marketing: Short Story Collections vs. Novels
 
This topic could really go in any of the forums here, so "all the rest" seems to be fitting. Keep in mind I'm not saying that there's a big overwhelming force of critical disdain for Anne stories, I'm just saying of the criticism that I've seen, this seems to be the main point.

A large majority of negative reviews and disinterest in Anne's work talks about her books feeling "segmented", "that a main plot never developed," or "it's going nowhere". Interestingly, a large number of first books in her series: (Dragonflight, The Ship Who Sang, To Ride Pegasus, Crystal Singer to name a few) are collections of short stories. Sometimes Anne reworked these to bridge the stories together, other times the stories were left as-is (no warranty!).

I think the criticism I've seen in these books are because people go into these not aware that they're reading a few short stories. Most of these stories do progress in a linear fashion so they feel more tied together than most short story collections, but I've also noticed that most of these books don't mention the fact that they've compiled short stories anywhere than in the small print copyrights.

Is this just marketing because something perceived as a novel will sell better than a collection of short stories? I think an interior mention at the beginning giving the stories histories wouldn't necessarily hurt sales, but would get people to read the books through the correct lenses. I know my opinion don't mean much, but it's an interesting thing to notice, nonetheless.

Hans Oct 5 2011 07:32 AM

Re: Marketing: Short Story Collections vs. Novels
 
Yes, I definitely think it is marketing and I am pretty sure a novel sells easier, better and more than a collection of short stories in a book. The fact that many of Anne's best (selling) books are consiting out of (bundled/combined/reworked) short stories has nothing to do with that. I think that is/was more a sign of the times and how Anne's agent sold her writings.

I also think the critique has nothing to do with that because, as you can research and surmise, Anne's books that originated as a or more shart stories, are also her best sellers. So the argument that they are "segmented" etc. doesn't ring true. No, it is far more the case, imho, that the success of those first books made the publishers ask for more volumes, a series, and that is maybe not always the thing where Anne's qualities lay (except for Pern, which holds a good number of good books but then, that is a big series).

Anne has always been very clear about the fact that she wrote/writes for a living, to earn an income with. Somehow that is hard to grasp for many fans. If a publisher asks her for a sequel, third or fourth book, she will produce and won't be bothered if it is as good or better than the first book in the series. If it is accepted by the publisher it gets published. Period.

It is us, the reader group that determine a book is a success or not by buying it :) There is an immense amount of critique on Todd's books for instance. But Del Rey will keep publishing them if they are sold. That is how simple it is.

kindan Oct 5 2011 06:49 PM

Re: Marketing: Short Story Collections vs. Novels
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Hans (Post 179644)
Yes, I definitely think it is marketing and I am pretty sure a novel sells easier, better and more than a collection of short stories in a book. The fact that many of Anne's best (selling) books are consiting out of (bundled/combined/reworked) short stories has nothing to do with that. I think that is/was more a sign of the times and how Anne's agent sold her writings.

I also think the critique has nothing to do with that because, as you can research and surmise, Anne's books that originated as a or more shart stories, are also her best sellers. So the argument that they are "segmented" etc. doesn't ring true. No, it is far more the case, imho, that the success of those first books made the publishers ask for more volumes, a series, and that is maybe not always the thing where Anne's qualities lay (except for Pern, which holds a good number of good books but then, that is a big series).

Anne has always been very clear about the fact that she wrote/writes for a living, to earn an income with. Somehow that is hard to grasp for many fans. If a publisher asks her for a sequel, third or fourth book, she will produce and won't be bothered if it is as good or better than the first book in the series. If it is accepted by the publisher it gets published. Period.

It is us, the reader group that determine a book is a success or not by buying it :) There is an immense amount of critique on Todd's books for instance. But Del Rey will keep publishing them if they are sold. That is how simple it is.


Cool insights all around. The critiques I read obviously don't come from me, or I wouldn't have given the McCaffrey family such a ridiculous amount of money over the years. It's just when I see negative remarks about her books, that seems to be the vast majority of them. How well her books sell I think have little to do with whether they're intended as one novel or several short stories, but are attributed to how rich and lively her characters are.

That's awesome that she is clear about writing for a living. I very much appreciate that. When I heard Todd talking about why he started writing Pern books, and it was because he was told how much money he could make by continuing the series, I was impressed by how candid he was. It's nice when authors respect the fans enough to give them straight talk.

I think Todd's work is over-critqued by the same token because they compare him to his mother at every turn. We have to keep in mind that 1. Anne McCaffrey is one of the greatest writers who ever lived and 2. Todd really has just started a serious writing career. I don't really count his quick efforts as Todd Johnson from before. So he's what, 9 years into serious writing? At that point in Anne's career, she only had two short stories published. So yes, his published credits are more due to the McCaffrey/Pern brand than if he had just put those out by his lonesome. At the same time, I've enjoyed all the books so far (especially Dragon's Fire) and if I weren't comparing them to his mother, they'd still be decent reads.

On a side note, I've recently read Tree by Todd, having found that short story compliation in a used book store, and I thought it was really good. I can't wait for him to gain more confidence in exploring his own concepts in books.

Back to the topic, I guess it's all up to the publishers how to market these things.


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