I was lately perusing the free Kindle books on Amazon (because I’m a cheap bastard and poor–but primarily cheap), when I noticed an interesting phenomenon in the romance section.

People are putting out short stories which serve as prequels to their romance novel (especially if said novel is a trilogy/saga). These short stories are free–in the hopes of enticing readers to buy the actual book.

I had already heard that sci-fi/fantasy writers with a trilogy or saga are tempting readers by making the first book free, then charging for the sequels.

It’s actually a very clever marketing campaign for the self-published author. It also means that if you want to make any money, you’re going to have to write something well enough to entice people to read it and/or follow you as an author. Speaking as a reader, there’s something appealing in that idea; you’re not out cash if a book turns out to be bad. If you like it, though, you’ll pay for more.

That’s capitalism, people.

While I am still holding out hope to go the traditional publishing route, I will not forswear self-publishing if this process drags out for a couple more years. Now that I’m not writing just one series in one genre, I feel like I have room to experiment. Also, I have not invested as much in my romance novel as I have my vampire series. While I think I did a good job with my historical romance and I’m proud of it, I wrote it in a month and edited it in a month (while working a full-time job). It took me a year (nearly full-time) to write and edit my first vampire book, and I’m still making typo corrections. I have invested a lot of time in it (true of most any fantasy novel; it takes a lot of work to create the background) and have really poured my heart and soul into it. My romance novel was written to sell.

I am going to check out a few of the short prequels and see how they work.

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