Island of Fog Chronicles coming in the New Year

Posted on November 1, 2014 (Subscribe to Blog)

I've mentioned a series of Island of Fog-related mini-stories many times before, and now it's definitely on my radar and planned to start early 2015.

The ISLAND OF FOG CHRONICLES will be a series of novelettes featuring characters from the nine books. As always, I like to play with mockup covers to get me inspired, so here are a few ideas:

Island of Fog Chronicles – Mockups

Eye of the Manticore will definitely be #1 in the series. Thomas Patten was, after all, the first of the children to shift into his alter-form. This novelette will start with that terrifying moment and follow the events of his young life afterward.

The other titles shown above are not confirmed, just a bit of eye candy for now. While I do intend writing about the sylphs, that novelette will likely come a bit later on. Long before that, Robbie's story will see him enlisting the help of ogres to free Fenton's giant lizard beast as written in Mountain of Whispers.

So what exactly is a novelette? Well, publishers and authors alike vary on this subject, and a lot depends on the intended age of the audience, the genre, and other factors. But it goes something like this:

Short story – under 7,500 words
Novelette – 7,500 to 17,500 words
Novella – 17,500 to 40,000 words
Novel – over 40,000 words

The ISLAND OF FOG CHRONICLES will most likely be novelettes because I don't anticipate quite enough story to make them novellas. But call them what you like; I doubt I'll be officially naming them as novelettes anyway! Word counts are a more accurate way to gauge length, at least if you pay attention to such things the way authors do. As a comparison, each of the nine books in the Island of Fog series is about 95,000 words. I expect the chronicles to be maybe 15,000 words each, about the length of three or four novel chapters. Short and sweet.

Then again, I might surprise myself and end up writing a novella. It depends on the story.

Look for Eye of the Manticore in January 2015, and the next one (whatever it's called) a month later. If they take off, I'd like to aim for one every month or two, but we'll see.

Pricing these novelettes is a bit of a puzzle. My initial thought was to price them in relation to the novels, in other words $0.99 because they're so much shorter than the $3.99 novels. On the other hand, the general consensus these days seems to be that $0.99 looks "cheap," indicating low quality.

Also, anything less than $2.99 only earns the author 30% in royalties; anything above earns 70%. Therefore the typical starting price these days (the magic number!) is $2.99. It's hard to justify pricing novelettes at $2.99 when the novels are much longer for just $3.99, but maybe I should make the argument that the novels are too cheap!

As readers, what are YOUR thoughts on ebook prices on Kindle, Nook, Apple, Kobo, etc? Do you care how long or short a book is within reason?

Comment by GRANT SWENSON on Sunday, November 2, 2014...

I'd say, go for the magic number of $2.99, no point in letting Amazon get all the money for your hard earned work!! I like the question below: what's 6+7= I had no idea I was going to have to do math today. Hold up, I just ran out of fingers, gotta break out the toes.. :-)

Comment by KEITH ROBINSON on Sunday, November 2, 2014...

That simple math question changes each time and keeps automated spammers from posting. Works great! :-)

I've already decided $2.99 is the right price. You're right, I think authors get so hung up on worrying about the cheapest possible deal that we forget the amount of hard work that goes into writing our books. $2.99 is the price of a cheeseburger, gone in less than two minutes. We spend $2.99 every day on insignificant things and don't blink an eye, so why should a reader balk at spending the same on a short book that might at least offer enjoyment for two hours?

Comment by BRIAN CLOPPER on Sunday, November 2, 2014...

I think this is a great idea! I do want to predict that it will end up a novella. I am thinking you will find too many good things to include and the word count will creep up there. Just look at what happened to Fractured and Unearthed when we set forth to each only write 20,000 words of those books.

Comment by DONNA CONNERY on Monday, November 3, 2014...

My thoughts on it are going to sound a bit harsh maybe, so let me give you my disclaimer first. I am your #1 fan Keith! I even believe I was your 39th fan on facebook, until I somehow dropped you and added you back the minute I realized it. So I guess you could say I am your number 39th fan, but you get the picture :-) And remember, I am only giving you what you asked... my thoughts on it. And I can assure you, if I did not live from one Social Security check to the next, my thoughts would be entirely different.

From a consumer point of view, a novelette at $2.99, especially knowing, or at least assuming, there are going to be probably 5 or 6 more at least, makes them entirely unaffordable for a large percentage of readers. Just say you end up writing 7 of them in all, then that price for all 7 will end up being $20.93, and that is only for about 10,000 more words than we got from a $3.99 novel.

Again, this is ONLY how I feel because I have to worry about every penny I spend. What I am doing now with this same situation is hoping that after the author finishes his novelettes that he will turn them into 1 novel, or an omnibus, or whatever they are called. If he doesn't then I have added them to my wishlist and hope that they will all eventually end up getting put on sale at some point or other for either free or .99 cents, and then I will buy them, but if that never happens, then I will simply not be able to ever read them.

With that being said, you as the author, have poured your heart and soul into your books and spend many, many hours thinking about writing and actually writing these books. You have probably spent many sleepless nights as well, going over different story lines in your head, or just laying there, not able to shut your mind off. And from that standpoint I feel that they are worth SO much more than $2.99 each. SO... I still think, if I were you, you should probably stick with your plan to sell them where you will make the 70% because you truly deserve that, along with a million book sales! I just hope that if you do go that route, you will at least consider putting them all into one book and selling it for a price that is affordable to most.


Your #1 or #39th fan <3

Comment by KEITH ROBINSON on Monday, November 3, 2014...

Donna, thanks for your honest thoughts! Everything you said makes sense, and although I didn't mention it in my post, I had planned to release omnibus editions every so often just as you suggested.

I don't yet know how many novelettes there will be overall, but I would hope to keep going until I run out of ideas, so I thought about releasing them on a regular basis for a "season" (maybe five or six) and then stop for a while and release an omnibus containing all the novelettes so far, then resume with the next "season" a few months later. and so on. Kind of like a TV show.

So those who have tons of cash lying around and can't wait for the next installment will be happy to buy the books as they're released, whereas those who would prefer to wait until the season is over can do so and get the whole lot in one go at a much-reduced rate.

Another idea I had was to publish them directly on my website (in various formats) until I had enough to release the omnibus on Kindle, Nook, etc. Then I could price them as I want and receive 100% royalties, which means I could sell them at $0.99 or $1.50 each and feel happy about it. This would, of course, mean readers coming to my site directly instead of looking for them on Amazon. Might be worth a try.

Hope that helps! :-)

Comment by MONICA G on Monday, November 3, 2014...

I'm not exactly sure how this works, but does Amazon choose to put the books on sale occasionally, or do you? My suggestion would be to raise the price of the novels by a dollar or two and leave the novelettes at 2.99. Honestly, for the quality of your books, I have often thought to myself that they were surprisingly low cost. Not saying that I enjoy paying more for my purchases, but let's be fair about it. 3.99 is "dirt cheap" for a good book. Like you said, people would burn through 3.99 for 1/4 of a meal and not blink twice. My thoughts are why not price the novels at 4.99 or 5.99, leave the novelettes at 2.99, and maybe put them on sale once in awhile?

Comment by GRANT SWENSON on Monday, November 3, 2014...

I definitely see where Donna is coming from. A person that has to watch every penny might find to be to expensive. But even using her math of $20.93 for seven books, I still feel is more than reasonable. I know first hand how much work goes into writing a book. I'm approaching my third month since I started writing mine. Even though I plan to donate all the profits, I don't want to be short changed for the amount of work I put daily into it.

Seven books, that's about one year of work, hauling butt. I like math so let's do some... 4 hours or so every day, times one year of writing, equals...1,460 hauling butt hours of work, times that by, let's just say something cheap like 10 bucks an hour for your work, would equal 14,600 for a years worth of work..(who makes that a year?) If you were to then sell them at $2.99 you would still have to sell 4,882 copies just to hit that 10 dollar an hour mark. I know writing is a lot of fun, but there are those days where you're racking your brain for the idea to come out..

I think I was just trying to show you, Donna, or Keith, even though I'm sure you already know is, that the amount of work put in to writing a book is not a huge payday for the author. I'd still say $2.99 is a fair price. I would go on to say all your other books priced at $3.99 seemed cheap to me, and would have payed $5.99 or $6.99 per book, after reading the first free one. So if you'd like me to send you the difference let me know.. :-p.... To end this and answer your question, I think releasing it, using your own format, bypassing all the companies taking your profits, is a great idea.

Comment by KEITH ROBINSON on Monday, November 3, 2014...

Thanks, Monica. That was another idea I had. I didn't mention it only because I was still mulling it over. I do think this would work, though. I'll try $4.99 for the books, and then $2.99 seems more reasonable for novelettes, though what readers will really be paying for is the NEW-ness of them as they're released. Others will be able to get them later for cheaper if they want/need to wait.

This is fairly usual practice.For instance, some Doctor Who "full cast" audio stories are $12.99 when new but reduced to as low as $2.99 a year or so later — perfectly good for me, since I've only just started getting them and have a lot to catch up on! If I were caught up and eagerly awaiting a new one, then I'd have to decide whether or not to pay the Big Bucks...

By the way, I set sale prices, not Amazon. I usually don't bother with promotions because I'd have to change the price (by republishing) in four different places, then change it back again. Too much hassle!

And Grant, all that math stuff!! :-) There are so many ways to spin it. I've never worked out the actual hourly rate because it's almost impossible to get exactly right. The way I spin it is how much each new book (at least each new FOG book) will earn per year based on previous years' averages. It's not a whole lot, but on the other hand, it's potentially a LIFETIME residual income even if I did nothing else to the book at all. Things change, of course, and sales might plummet. Then again, they might increase or even rocket, so it's impossible to predict. All I can do is earn some money and feel good about it, and the more I earn, the more I can justify writing. So ultimately the higher price makes me write more.

Comment by BRIAN CLOPPER on Monday, November 3, 2014...

Commenting on the compensation a writer receives from their work, I look at it as a long-term investment. My hope is that as I grow my body of work and more readers find me, the sales will continue to grow and the later years will more than make up for these lean, early years. I've only been aggressively writing since early 2012, so two years in is barely a dent in gaining recognition just yet.

Looking at it another way, if I kept writing novels to submit to agents, I would see no money. At least now, I get checks, while not exactly sizable, that at least put a smile on my face.

Keith, I love your idea of seasons and writing for six months straight before going off to write other books, like say a humorous science fiction epic with your good writer friend. :)

Comment by KEITH ROBINSON on Monday, November 3, 2014...

Hey, Brian, I didn't say I wouldn't be writing anything else while I was writing these chronicles! I think these novelettes will take 3-4 weeks each, and IF I get time, I intend writing ROBOT BLOOD as well. Maybe. :-)

I look at writing as a long-term investment too, but I do want to see some return now so I can justify the time I put into them. I do make enough from them to make it all worthwhile. Some authors say they "do it all for love," and there's some truth to that, but if I visited myself from the future had told myself there was absolutely no way I was going to make more than a few dollars after a decade of writing, I'd seriously think about changing direction... and creating a terrible time-paradox in the process.

Comment by ACIDTUNESYT on Monday, November 3, 2014...

A Novelette seems a good idea. There won't be too much to write about the subjects chosen, apart from Thomas' story. $2.99 seems a good price as it is shorter than most of your other amazing novels, although I am sure the quality will be equal. It would also be interesting to see how Felipe (Burnflank) was doing when he came to the dragons.

These chronicles are an excellent idea! 。^◕‿◕^。

Comment by KEITH ROBINSON on Monday, November 3, 2014...

I must make a note to write Felipe's story, AcidTunesYT! I intended to, I just forgot about it. Yes, that would be very cool.

Comment by ROGER ESCHBACHER on Tuesday, November 4, 2014...

I think publishing IOF Chronicles as novelettes is a great idea. Mockups or not, I love the covers, too.

Comment by KAT BREWER on Tuesday, November 4, 2014...

Well, I don't know who it is that thinks .99 cent books are low quality. I've found wonderful authors by getting books that are free or .99 cents, so I would say 1.99 for a novelette. However, I do hope these end up being novellas or novel length. Having said that, I'm buying them either way. Just can't get enough of the series!!

Comment by MICHAEL BARRINGTON on Tuesday, December 9, 2014...

I am curious just how much you plan to include in your first book about Thomas. It seems like there is a lot of potential content, from the first change, through survival in the woods, finding a home among the manticore, dealing with his return to human society, through his escape and eventual final return at the end of book three. His dealing with being a beast, as well as his struggle to regain his humanity. Seems like you could write a lot more then a handful of chapters with all of that potential content, but maybe I overestimate it.

Comment by KEITH ROBINSON on Tuesday, December 9, 2014...

You're not overestimating at all, Michael! You're right on all counts. EYE OF THE MANTICORE will span the time between his first change all the way up to the end of Book 3. Obviously I'll be leaping forward over years, so I plan to start at age six, jump to maybe age eight or nine, and then to age twelve. There's a lot to tell, and it's highly possible this book will end up longer than I anticipated. It'll definitely be a novella, perhaps 25,000 words.

Comment by MICHAEL BARRINGTON on Sunday, December 14, 2014...

Then let me say I'm looking forward to it even more. Thomas has very quickly become my favorite character as I've been reading through the stories, and I'm glad you'll be doing that story first.

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