Friday, April 28, 2017

Writing: Collections, with Deborah Raney

I recently became aware of a collection of three novellas, written by Deborah Raney, Melissa Tagg, and Courtney Walsh, and published under the title, Right Where We Belong. The idea was interesting, so I decided to ask Deborah Raney about this trend…if, indeed, it is a trend.

Deb, who had the idea to publish these three novellas in one volume?

Courtney and Melissa came up with the idea of a collection of small-town fiction and invited me to play along. I was thrilled with the invitation and had a blast working with these two dynamos!

What do you think about freestanding novellas versus the grouping of several into one volume?

There are three best things about grouping the books into one volume:
1. You introduce each other to each others’ readers! Already, as the tweets and posts have been flying to promote our new book this month, I’ve seen several of each of our readers say that they haven’t read the other authors, but they’ll buy it because they are loyal to one or the other of us. That’s win/win!
2. By grouping our novellas together, we have enough pages to create a print book that, at 400+ pages feels like a full-length novel and can be sold for the price of one. Even though our strongest sales by far are e-book, we each love print and wanted to be sure we had the option to have print copies available for our local bookstores, family, and friends.
Usually when one novella makes it to print, it is as a gift book in hardcover. You don’t too often see a novella standalone in print, at least not in trade size.
3. Writing novellas (as individuals too) is a way to get a story out into the market quicker than you could get a full-length novel published. Because novellas tend to be a bit simpler, with fewer plot threads, every aspect of writing a novella is quicker. That’s not to say it’s easier. I actually find it almost more challenging to create characters and a setting that readers will care about with so few pages to accomplish that!
If you’re a slow writer like I am, it might take a full year to complete a full-length novel. Writing a novella while I wait for edits or in between books is a way to keep my name in front of readers while they wait for the next full-length book.
Another reason I know some authors are writing novellas is because their readers have fallen in love with the characters from a series or novel, and they are begging for more stories from that fictional family or setting. In the case of Right Where We Belong, all three of us used either a setting or characters from a previous series of full-length novels we’d written.
After working with Courtney and Melissa on this project, I’d add a fourth strong reason for doing a collection: it’s just flat-out fun! Not only did we exchange critiques and editing, but we really sparked each others’ creativity just talking about our stories and the themes that tie them together. It was truly iron sharpening iron. And in my case, it was wonderful to have some younger women to make sure my young characters didn’t speak like grandmas. ;)

And what about packaging several novels together as a bundle, the so-called “boxed set”? Is this giving way to more novellas and collections of stories?

I think you’re going to see more and more of these. For one thing, it’s a way to give readers more for their money. A lot of times, the books included in a boxed set are ones that have already had a good publishing run. The author has gotten rights back to the story and is willing to put it out there for a lower price than the original in order for faithful readers to be able to still have access to an out-of-print book. In the case of 99-cent books and free books, an author might gain thousands of new readers by offering a risk-free opportunity for readers to try his or her books.
As an author, I’m kind of reluctant to give my books away, lest that make books seem to have less value. But I can’t deny that every time I’ve done a free promotion, I find sales of my other books rising, new reviews popping up on Amazon, and reviewers noting that “this is the first book I’ve read by this author, but it won’t be the last.” Those are the best words an author could hope for!

Any comments you’d like to leave with readers?

Thanks so much for inviting me into the conversation! As an extrovert, I couldn’t do this gig if I didn’t get to talk shop around the virtual water cooler!

Tweet with a single click: "Author Deborah Raney talks about a collection of novellas in a single book." Click here to tweet.

DEBORAH RANEY's first novel, A Vow to Cherish, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title and launched her writing career after twenty happy years as a stay-at-home mom. She has since written over 30 books, including novels for imprints of Random House, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, and Harlequin. Deb is on the board of the 2600-member American Christian Fiction Writers, and teaches at writers conferences around the country. Deb and husband, Ken Raney, traded small-town life in Kansas––the setting of many of Deb's novels––for life in the friendly city of Wichita. They love traveling to visit four children and a growing brood of grandchildren who all live much too far away. Visit Deb on the Web at


Jackie Smith said...

Thanks, Richard, for this post! Deb has always been a fave of mine...did not know about this book...great idea!

Richard Mabry said...

Thanks, Jackie. Yes, Deb is a great writer, and I think we're going to see more collections of shorter works. Come back next Friday when we talk about a different sort of multi-author book.

Deborah Raney said...

Thank you, Jackie! And thanks so much for hosting me today, Richard. I look forward to next Friday's post and always enjoy your blog!

Paula Shreckhise said...

I like novella collections as a break between longer novels. Especially if the longer one is"heavier". They are a quicker read when I'm busy, too! Then there are the challenges I'm in. You can chalk another book up on your TBR list. I agree with Deb about finding new authors through ones you already are fond of! I also like the ones that have a common thread or characters. I have read some that seamlessly connect the settings, characters and stories! Thanks Richard for a great post! Does this mean you are thinking in this direction?

Richard Mabry said...

Paula, I've recently self-published my third novella, Doctor's Dilemma. I did it while waiting for the problems with the publisher with whom I'd signed to be resolved. I have a couple of novels already written (more about that when I hear a definite word from the publisher who has them), but novellas are appealing to me. And, since I own the copyright to three now, it's not out of the question to put them together. As the slogan goes, "Stay tuned." Thanks for your comment.