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Splitting Up the Anthology Poll

Selling Anthology Stories Separately as Ebooks

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Penguin is offering, as part of its “eSpecial” program, three anthology stories that were originally available only as part of a collection.   Father Mine by JR Ward is a novella available for $3.99 only in her Black Dagger Brotherhood Insider’s Guide (Retail $15.00). Father Mine features a story about Zsadist and Bella which I’ve heard is all angsty and full of woe. Buy Link here (Jia has read it, maybe she can come and give some deets).

The other two stories being offered is Karen Chance’s Buying Trouble, Patricia Briggs’s Alpha and Omega, both stories originally part of the On the Prowl anthology. Chance’s book is available on October 14th and Briggs’ novella on the 20th. These two novellas are $2.99.

I like the idea of buying the novellas separately but I do wonder at the price point. For example, the entire On The Prowl anthology can be purchased in eform at Fictionwise for $6.11 (with discounts). Perhaps with discounts, the Chance and Briggs’ novellas will be around the $2.50 mark instead of the $3.00 mark.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Joan/SarahF
    Oct 07, 2008 @ 19:38:12

    Not in MobiPocket, thanks. I’ll have to wait to buy the dead tree version.

  2. Jane
    Oct 07, 2008 @ 19:41:18

    SarahF – There is not going to be any dead tree version. These are eSpecials. They are supposed to be available in several formats but I can’t find them in any other format right now (not even Kindle!)

  3. Jia
    Oct 07, 2008 @ 19:49:20

    “Father Mine” starts out all angsty but ends on an almost sugary sweet note. I probably would have liked it more had I not already been annoyed by Zsadist and Bella’s overexposure in the BDB series. It’s very obvious Z is Ward’s favorite character and she likes to show off how special and wonderful he and his mate are. I would have no issue with this if other characters in the world came back as often but do we see Wrath as often Z reappears? Do we see Marissa as often as Bella reappears? No, we don’t. A shame in my opinion because I would love to see more of Marissa and her work at the shelter she created.

    I think that’s where most of my annoyance is coming from, so I can’t really evaluate the novella on an unbiased level and pick apart its strong points and its weak points. I did finish it though so that is something.

    I’d say it’s a good story for those who love Z and Bella and want to see him continue coping with his past as a slave and how that affects his role as a father. In theory, it makes sense in the context of Z’s trauma but it continues my ongoing grievance with the series that the women’s character growths are woefully underdeveloped. We had an entire book where Z had to cope with his past. Now he gets a novella too? We never really saw Bella learn to cope with hers and she was stuck in a hole with her eyes sewn shut for months and had to take showers in front of a creepy stalker! There was an attempt to address Bella’s weak character arc in Lover Awakened but for me, it was the equivalent of slapping a bandaid on someone who’s lost a leg. It’s a good story for fans of the series but I don’t think you’re missing out if you skip it.

    The compendium also included an excerpt of Rehvenge’s forthcoming novel. Now that? That was intriguing.

  4. Jessica Kennedy
    Oct 07, 2008 @ 21:04:04

    I like the idea of offering them seperately but the price, as mentioned, doesn’t seem fair. I think you’d see more buyers if the price was $1.00 or $0.99 per novella. It would really show which author sells more novellas.

  5. Nicole
    Oct 07, 2008 @ 21:54:36

    I wouldn’t mind them separate, but only if the price was way lower. If nothing else, divide the regular price by the number of authors. Then I wouldn;t feel like they’re just dividing them up to make more money (which they essentially are).

  6. Kaetrin
    Oct 07, 2008 @ 22:20:33

    I really like the idea of buying them separately. The most recent JD Robb novella is a must read for me but I’m not interested in the other stories – I really only want that one and I don’t want to pay for the whole book when I only want 1/3 of it. Same with the Patricia Briggs book. I read the review of Cry Wolf (?) which said it was such a great book and I understand that the novella sets things up so I’d like to read that first – then I will know for a much cheaper price, whether I like the writer myself and will then decide whether or not to buy Cry Wolf. I don’t mind paying US$2-3 for a novella.

  7. Mike Briggs
    Oct 07, 2008 @ 22:30:48

    OK, I have a bias, being married to one of the authors mentioned, but this really isn’t a case of “greedy author wants more money”. I read quite a few novels, but seldom read novellas/anthologies, and it appears that many other people have similar tastes. However, sometimes an anthology story becomes the jumping-off point for something bigger, or provides a really interesting bunch of detail to an established series.

    The obvious answer to people who want to read a single story in an anthology is usually, “So buy the stupid thing, or borrow it from a library.” However, sometimes there are problems with that approach. The anthology may be out of print, or it may be quite expensive. For example, some of the trade paperback/small press anthologies can cost upwards of $30, and most readers simply can’t drop that kind of money on a book they only intend to read a small part of.

    The “On The Prowl” anthology (from which two of these stories are drawn) has another difficulty. One of the four stories is explicitly erotic. Very explicitly erotic. Enough so that I’m not entirely comfortable having a copy in my home. No, don’t laugh, I know it’s considered silly to have moral standards in this day and age, but I’m not trying to force my standards on anyone else, just within my own home. On the other hand, I really love Karen Chance’s story. What am I to do? Now that its available, I’ll happily buy a copy of her novella in electronic format.

    Patty has decided to base a series of books on the characters introduced in her novella. After much debate and angst, she decided to basically start the novels where the novella left off. (We’re still not sure that was a brilliant decision, but it’s too late to re-think it now.) As we feared, readers are confused. Readers are angry. Readers are “missing” the first 70 pages of their newly-purchased book. If they can buy that story for a minimal sum it may smooth some ruffled feathers and bring a little contentment to their lives. Since I read the emails from the ruffled-feather crowd, I’m all for it!

    The price point is, of course, set by the publisher. I’d like to see them a little cheaper as well, but then I’m a cheapskate through and through. The bottom line is that while these won’t appeal to all readers, they do expand the choices available to readers, which can only be a good thing in my opinion.

  8. Karen
    Oct 07, 2008 @ 22:55:04

    I like the idea of buying short stories separately. There are a lot of short stories that I’d like to own, but I don’t really want to store an entire anthology on my shelf for just one story. I’d pay $4 if the author was one of my favorites, although $3 would be a better price for a new author. At that price point, I would be willing to try out someone new.

    However, none of these authors is appealing to me, since I’m not a fan of paranormals. If it was Mary Balogh or Carla Kelly, I’d be jumping at the offer.

  9. Robin/Janet
    Oct 07, 2008 @ 23:50:35

    I’m more frustrated by the format than the price, but in some ways they’re linked for me, because I won’t pay more for a short story/novella I can only read on one device (when it’s not my Mac).

    And I agree that you really need to read Alpha and Omega to fully appreciate and understand Cry Wolf.

  10. Vanessa
    Oct 08, 2008 @ 00:19:50

    I was just thinking about this very same topic. The anthology with Nalini Singh’s new one just came out, and while I do also enjoy Lora Leigh, the only story I really want is Nalini’s. In my perfect world I would be able to buy just her story in e format and be a happy camper.

    As for the price point, for myself at least, anywhere under $2 is an almost sure bet that I’ll buy it, even for a new to me author. Anything above that and I would only shell out for an author that I love… like Nalini, or Briggs lol

    As an aside here, I’ve been happily giving Julia Quinn my money for her second epilogues, they give me warm fuzzy feelings. That’s almost, kind of, a little bit, like this, no? If you love em, you’ll pay :/

  11. Li
    Oct 08, 2008 @ 06:07:51

    I voted for the $3-ish mark.

    I *love* this idea, especially if the anthology is first released in trade size paperback. I don’t really want to pay for a full trade-size book when I only want to read a single author’s story.

    If the anthology is mass market paperback though, then hmmm… I probably would shell out a few more dollars and buy the whole book.

  12. DS
    Oct 08, 2008 @ 11:07:08

    I don’t do anthologies anymore. I used to buy Best of Year Fantasy and SF collections but haven’t even done that consistently in the last few years. I was going to ccomment until I read Mike Briggs’ post– he wrote

    [snip]Patty has decided to base a series of books on the characters introduced in her novella. After much debate and angst, she decided to basically start the novels where the novella left off. (We're still not sure that was a brilliant decision, but it's too late to re-think it now.) As we feared, readers are confused. Readers are angry. Readers are “missing” the first 70 pages of their newly-purchased book. If they can buy that story for a minimal sum it may smooth some ruffled feathers and bring a little contentment to their lives. Since I read the emails from the ruffled-feather crowd, I'm all for it![snip]

    I recently read a book that had been started in an anthology– not Ms Briggs’– but I had the same feeling that I had missed part of it. I enjoyed the book but not enough to go chasing after the story that I only realized existed when I saw someone else complaining about it. I am somewhat hesitant about picking up another book by the author because I would rather not go through that again. So it might be a really bad idea to start a series that way. I’ve followed Ms Briggs for years– I bought Masques new and no amount of money ($250 last time I looked on is going to pry my copy out of hands, but this puts me off the Alpha and Omega novels a bit.

    Parts of books appearing in other forms has happened for decades– McCaffrey’s first Pern novel was made up of two stories that appeared separately in Analog– but usually that first part also made its way into the book as well. Stories that are totally unnecessary for the understanding of a book are another matter entirely but there are probably going to be more than one hidebound reader (like me) who isn’t interested in going back to read a beginning novella after the book is finished.

  13. Mike Briggs
    Oct 08, 2008 @ 19:39:46

    I've followed Ms Briggs for years- I bought Masques new and no amount of money ($250 last time I looked on is going to pry my copy out of hands, but this puts me off the Alpha and Omega novels a bit.

    Sorry, I know this is a bit off topic, but I just wanted to say that Patty had intended the novella to be completely stand alone; just a one-off story. After it was written, and turned in, she and her editor came up with the idea that those characters could support a separate series.

    It’s been a royal mess trying to figure out how to start the series, and Cry Wolf is pretty confusing for a few chapters if you didn’t read the blasted novella. Sometimes all an author has are awkward solutions. For the record, I can categorically state that she’ll never launch another series from a novella. Everyone makes mistakes, and smart people learn from them <grin>

  14. GrowlyCub
    Oct 08, 2008 @ 22:26:12

    I would most definitely welcome the opportunity to buy single novellas at a price point of around $3 and in multiformat.

    There are currently two Aphrodisia anthologies available which contain stories by two of my favorite authors of that line, but I refuse to buy them because each is paired with an author I will absolutely not give any money to.

    So, unless these two novellas somehow become available by themselves, I will never get to read them. :(

  15. Joan/SarahF
    Oct 09, 2008 @ 06:40:04

    Well, the Ward’s being released dead tree, at least, in her compendium (out yesterday?). She’s the only one I read of the three at the moment. Still not (ever) buying in Mobipocket.

  16. Sela Carsen
    Oct 09, 2008 @ 07:03:31

    Well praise the Lord and pass the e-books!

    I was one who was deeply disappointed in Cry Wolf because I didn’t realize there was a novella first. And since I usually buy a lot of anthologies, I was extra bummed that the one I waffled on and eventually decided not to pick up (the book budget only goes so far) had the A&O story in it!

    To be honest, I’d probably only pick up A&O if given the choice, even though I like all the authors. I’m meh about MobiPocket, but as they say, beggars can’t be choosers.

  17. MoJo
    Oct 09, 2008 @ 08:55:37

    My book was spurred by a short story I wrote. I allude to what happened in the book and you can read the short story for free on my site, but I included the short story in the back anyway. I felt it was only fair.

    I, too, chose the $3-ish mark, depending on the size of the novella/short story. I do NOT like anthologies and have bought only one that I can remember–and for one author.

  18. KMont
    Oct 09, 2008 @ 10:32:39

    I was wondering if anthologies would ever go the way of iTunes. I like the idea, I’m also a fan of the iTunes way of buying music. I love that the Alpha and Omega story is being offered separately. I may get that one; at the moment I don’t have an eReading device and rare time to sit at the computer, but it’d be there for any chances in the future.

    As for the Ward story…meh. Jia, I don’t feel that just because you’re annoyed by some aspects of Ward’s BDB world that you can’t legitimately review/evaluate the novella. Annoyance at something in a book or series doesn’t negate the right to do a review, does it? Or make it less of a “real” review? Or am I missing the mark here and you’re just too annoyed to want to evaluate it?

    Sorry, probably over-thinking here. Thank you for the thoughts you did include though. I agree that Z’s story has been told. A few reappearances to see how he’s doing are great, but we’re always getting more and more angst from him and it steals the limelight of whichever main characters we’re currently reading. I would love to see Rhage and Mary again, Marissa…but then I also wish for the tone and direction of the older books, before it all became bigger than Ward had originally planned for. Oh well.

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