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Interconnected Stories Problem

remember to thank all the books you haven't read over the past three years

Natalia Osiatynska via Compfight

For the past few months my Star Trilogy novels have been selling pretty steady. Nothing to get all excited about, but nothing to sneeze at either. At the same time, free downloads of short stories set in the same universe are dwindling. One would expect a bit of trickle down from those getting the novels, once they realize that there is the equivalent of another whole novel in the dozen or so short stories that I have available on Kindle right now. But that’s not happening.

I can only assume one of two things is going on. First, people buying the novels are not reading them, and therefore not coming back for anything else I’ve written. A distinct and likely possibility. Second, they are reading the Trilogy books and not realizing there are more stories set in the same universe. I have no idea which is happening or whether it’s a bit a both.

I think if you spend more than a minute clicking on the pages of this website you will quickly realize that I have a ton of short stories and an anthology all set in the same universe as the Star Trilogy. But readers are somehow not making that connection. They are also not buying Tyrmia, one of the best novels I’ve written and also set in the Star Trilogy. Somehow I am completely failing these readers who may want more of my stories but are possibly just waiting for me to complete the third novel of the Star Trilogy.

I’ve taken great pains to fill out my universe with many different short stories and all my novels are related to each other, not just the Star Trilogy ones. In fact if you have read Starforgers, for instance, you can get all kinds of added character knowledge about the protagonist if you read the stories in Tales From Ocherva, Volume One. But so far, nobody is following up and reading the anthology.

Either there is a massive miss-communication going on, or people really don’t like the Star Trilogy novels much and just are not interested in reading anything else I’ve written. I’m sure there is plenty of that going on. But I’d really like to know how I can get readers of the Star Trilogy to try the short stories.

Part of the problem with the individual shorts and the anthology too, is that their covers don’t necessarily imply they are related to the Star Trilogy. They still have the Starstrikers Universe logo on them. Maybe that is confusing. I don’t have the time or money to have unique cover art for all the individual shorts, but even if I did, they still need to be tied into the books better. Visually their covers are similar, perhaps a bit too similar.

New versions of the Star Trilogy are being prepped for release soon. I will be including links to the anthology and short stories in the new ebooks, to try and make readers more aware of them. That’s about the only thing I can do right now.

Anyone else have any ideas how I can point interested readers to the short stories?


4 thoughts on “Interconnected Stories Problem”

  1. Maybe I need to make it more clear that these stories are directly related to Starforgers. I mean if you read all the stories in Tales From Ocherva, you essentially get a loosely collected narrative that explores the same characters from Starforgers. But then I know that you already know that.

    I do agree with your cross product marketing logo idea. I’m already noodling and doodling to come up with something that will work across books and shorts. Great suggestion!

  2. I’m not sure, but I think it’s because most SF and probably F readers are looking for a more immersive read. We might look at and read the odd short story from time to time, but generally when we do sit down to read, we intend to read a while…to escape. So, novels, novella collections tend to be more attractive than short stories in these genres. Strictly my opinion with nothing to back it up, of course, other than from talking with other readers about what we’ve read.

    If you’re going to modify the covers to better tie them together, I doubt the font being similar will be enough. You need some kind of Star Trilogy Universe icon you can “stamp” on them. Something akin to “Star Trilogy [icon here] Universe”. That seems to work for other series of books, so that might do the job. The icon would be something separate from the coins, of course. A logo, an icon, a graphic of a galaxy, whatever…something to quickly and definitely brand the books as being linked. It doesn’t have to be in your face obvious, but there and the same across all the books using it. No font change, no icon change, no color change, nothing.

    Just a thought.

  3. Thanks Steve! Tyrmia has the same font for the author as the Star Trilogy books. I was counting on that being the common visual thread on that one. But I wanted it to look different because it’s only set in the same universe, not directly related to Starforgers and Starstrikers.

    If someone were to read Starforgers, they would remember the planet Ocherva from that novel, hence they would see the anthology and understand it is related. Also, same font for author again. I want the covers to be different it makes them more interesting. But I want the trilogy to be very similar, so you know they go together. When I release the third book in the Star Trilogy, I’ll offer them all as one bundle too.

    I should probably put some kind of a banner on all the non-trilogy books that directly states they are set in the Star Trilogy universe.

    You’re right about the audience not being the same though. The SF/F genre is very strange in that regard. Most Mystery readers will read both. All, well.

  4. Visually, from the covers, Tyrmia doesn’t look related, that might be an issue. For the short stories vs. novels, I’ve noticed at conventions that other than writers, there’s not a lot of cross over readers for those different lengths.

    I would suggest creating linkages for the novels (oh, you liked this, you might also like this) so that people are exposed to all of the books. You could offer a bundle (buy all three as one purchase, and don’t forget the short stories). You might want to relook at the covers. Starstrikers and Starforgers are very similar, and even though “Tales” have the coin/icon, it’s definitely not the first thing you notice. Tyrmia looks completely different.

    Just my two cents.

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