The Miniaturization of SFR
Last week, Donna posted an excellent article on the subject of SFR, Missed it by That Much. I wanted to expand on the subject with a new trend I've noted in our favorite subgenre. SFR novels that aren't "novels."
I've read several lately that are probably 30,000-50,000 words in length. This is a little surprising (and dismaying) because the world-building and technical or cultural aspects introduced in SFR are a hallmark of our subgenre. How these elements affect the characters and their goals, desires and relationships, usually require word count that runs far longer than other romance genres--often 110-120K or more. And seriously, as a reader I want to spend more time in these imaginative worlds. Fifty thousand words barely whets my appetite.
Don't get me wrong. I enjoy reading SFR shorts too, but something being labeled and written as a short story or novella implies different expectations than a SFR novel.
Are digital products erasing the lines between novella and novel? Will this trend ultimately hurt SFR?
Since readers can't see the page count when purchasing digital files, size doesn't really compute unless you study and compare such stats. I don't, though I may start paying more attention. I also don't think authors or publishers are deliberately misleading readers--information on the length via electronic standards is usually available--but do most readers understand the difference between less than 300 KB and 600KB plus? There appears to be no KB = page count conversion because the font size or type can affect the KB size.
So, as a reader, I'm sometimes feeling a little short-changed. The stories I've been purchasing are less complex, the world-building less fleshed out, and the story sometimes feels like it took shortcuts to resolve the plot and relationship issues because there simply isn't room to fully explore the conflict or resolution.
This trend may be a product of shorter attention spans. Because of the "quick bytes" networking made necessary by Twitter and Facebook, are we also being conditioned to accept shorter and quicker reads? In another few years, will only the print publishers be offering full length digital versions of SFR?
And what about cost comparisons? Are the shorter 30-50K novels being priced the same as their 100K+ competition? (More of this analysis in next week's post.)
What's your impression of the state of the subgenre in terms of story length? Do you prefer longer or shorter reads when using a reading device? Do you think the 'downsizing' of digital works vs. print works is a negative or positive trend?
The Miniaturization of Sci-Fi Romance has now been posted. Click here to read.
Where Am I?
I'm struggling a bit with overlapping deadlines and obligations (it's not just for published authors, believe me) but I have a group of readers looking at the latest draft of my third novel and providing some fantastic feedback. I'm looking forward to a little let-up on my schedule so I can finish the revisions for novel #2 (The Outer Planets) and get #3 to market draft. My goal? Three marketable (full length) novels ready in time for RWA Nationals in late July. (Or, dare I say it, maybe even a sale?)
The Love, Lasers and Light Swords Valentine's Day Event promises to be a lot of fun with many prizes being doled out to random commenters. Come celebrate the day at Backward Momentum blog. The event will run tomorrow--February 14th--only!
More Valentines Goodies 4 U
I received a newsletter from a peer, author Connie Shelton, asking me to help get the word out on her latest promotion. Always happy to let my fellow peers know about great freebies! If you like Mystery, Connie is giving away three of her digital Charlie Parker series amateur sleuth novels, Honeymoons Can Be Murder, Reunions Can Be Murder, and Stardom Can Be Murder on February 12th, 13th, and 14th only. Connie Shelton has been a best-selling author on Amazon and her New Mexico-based romances have netted solid 4 and 4+ star ratings on Amazon.
Chosen to the first ten readers who comment that they'd like one as long as the .99 sale lasts (I'll need your email address).
As of this writing, the novel is still on sale and the offer stands for a few more commenters. (Did I mention this one is dark?) Read the reviews if you're on the fence, but for me this was a mesmerizing, can't-put-it-down read with a terrifying and eerily real villain and a way-beyond-mere-satisfying conclusion.
Donna, your articles continue to be on target as thought-provoking reads. Love 'em.
Pippa, again, so great to have you on the Spacefreighters crew. Looking forward to the release of Keir.
Sharon, it's been fun sharing some behind-the-scenes excitement with you involving your upcoming Tor release Ghost Planet. Hope you can announce some of the news to the world very soon.