Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Observations— Mystery Novellas, Revisited

There’s been a lot of talk about the emergence of the mystery novella, especially now, when the immediacy of the electronic reader and the shorter book format of the novella create a perfect marriage for those readers pressed for time and find a 400-page book too much of a commitment.  Seems to me that a 100-page novella by a quality writer for under $3.00 is perfect in-flight length and quite a bargain. 

While e-book mystery novellas are out there, roadblocks exist for readers and writers alike.  It is difficult for readers to locate quality work. Part of that is due to a huge explosion in self-publishing. Quality differentiation is nearly impossible.  For writers, it is difficult to find a publisher because novellas are not built into most corporate publishing business models or into the review process.

There have been attempts.  Amazon, through Kindle Singles, for example, pushed for both shorter works of fiction and nonfiction, in which they take an active role in publishing, editing and promoting/  But for the average reader, it is hard to see the distinction among all Amazon offerings. I’ve published my own novella through Amazon.  Penguin’s Dutton attempted to relaunch an old imprint — Guilt-Edged Mysteries — revitalized for new short, tough stories in the e-book format.  But I saw no roll-out, no advertising. They haven’t yet reached any kind of critical mass and the web site appears idle. Not long ago, Top Suspense Group gathered a dozen highly respected, some legendary crime writers to offer their wares, including novellas with the notion that readers wouldn’t have to risk getting a 99-cent dud off the Internet. The writers are vetted. This is a good idea. It also seems like the times are ripe for greater or at least more innovation with regard to getting novellas, specifically novellas, to the marketplace.  Maybe there is.

Yesterday, I received a news release from the Stark Raving Group:

Brand New eBook platform offers 1, 2, 3 Year Subscriptions, Introducing Readers to Thriller, Pulp, Action-Adventure Mystery, and Crime Fiction Novellas by Best Selling Authors

Publishing company Stark Raving Group has launched its Bookxy platform in time for the 2013 holiday shopping season. Bookxy offers users the opportunity to read genres of mystery, crime fiction, action-adventure and thriller novellas written by some of today’s most popular authors including Eric Van Lustbader (the Bourne series), Robert Ward, Stephen Hunter, Gary Phillips, Eric Beetner and Harley Jane Kozak. Moreover, each novella’s cover will be illustrated by renowned graphic novel, comic book, and film artists, including William Stout, Marc Sasso, Roger Huyssen, Derek Riggs, Adam Shaw, Tony Washington and Mark Maddox. 

Currently more than 35 authors have contracted to publish work through Stark Raving Group. In the spring, Bookxy’s novellas will be available through traditional eBook retailers including Amazon, Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble,, Ingram, Kobo, and ReadHowYouWant. The books will also be available through additional eBook wholesalers and social media sites including Facebook and Twitter.

Bookxy differs from other eBook platforms, according to Grammy-winning founder of Stark Raving Group, Jeffrey Weber. “These are full novellas, not short stories. They are designed to capture the imagination of the reader and provide several hours of compelling reading. They are written by some of the best authors in the world. We guarantee that our books will never be more than $2.99, and we will continue to introduce readers of the world to new works each month. Our contracted list of authors is growing rapidly, and we look forward to introducing Bookxy to avid readers as well as new readers who enjoy time online in this digital age.”
“Bookxy is a clean portal,” Weber continued. “There are no book reviews, nor any distractions that would take away from a user-friendly experience. Bookxy allows users to quickly, easily and inexpensively read terrific works from the convenience of their computer, Smartphone, tablet, or other eReader devices.”

Bookxy will offer readers the opportunity to buy individual novellas for $2.99. Their books are also available via a subscriptions service, which reduces the price of each book to $2.70, totaling $32.40/year. Two-year subscriptions are also offered, further decreasing the price of each novella to $2.50 per book.

“We believe the future of digital publishing lies firmly in the realm of subscription services, and we are thrilled to be one of the first eBook publishers to offer this valuable service,” Weber says.

About Stark Raving Group: Stark Raving Group is a publishing group with an emphasis in eBooks. As creator of the Bookxy sales and distribution platform, Stark Raving Group brings novellas by renowned writers to market for readers. With a focus on taut, terse, plot-driven stories of roughly 70-120 pages, Stark Raving Group publishes crime, mystery, action-adventure and thriller, through the Bookxy platform. Its unique subscription service provides readers with additional savings, through one, two, and three year subscriptions. For more information visit

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