How writers use singles to double up on ebook sales

Top spot and a great cover for Peter Ross Range's Murder in the Yoga Store
Top spot in true crime and a great cover for Peter Ross Range’s Murder in the Yoga Store

Topical books rushed out to cover news events and big-name novelists offering “prequels” to blockbuster novels are among the trends in the singles ebook market on Amazon this year.

News organisations are finding singles can be a new outlet for their reporting and in June, Publishers Weekly pumped out The Battle for $9.99, about the Justice Department’s case against Apple in the ebook price-fixing case.

Crime reporting is always popular and Murder in the Yoga Store, an 88-pager about a grisly case by journalist Peter Ross Range, was published in June and is still No 1 in the true crime category.

Legendary playwright David Mamet made his much heralded entry into self-publishing in June with The Handle and The Hold, a 52pp (print equivalent) novella, a crime caper which hasn’t been very well received by reviewers but has done reasonably on sales.

Nelson De Mille has done a lot better in sales and reviews with The Book Case, a 54pp short story (what’s the difference between a short story and a novella, it doesn’t look like it’s length). Since it was published in May, this has amassed an astonishing 768 reviews, with the vast majority being 3, 4 or 5 stars.

Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg teamed up in May for Pros and Cons, a very short story, as pointed out by some reviewers, at just 35pp and really acting as a teaser for the main full-length event, The Heist, which was published in June. That hasn’t stopped Pros and Cons from selling sensationally well, admittedly at the low price of $1.12, and still outstripping The Heist in popularity, although the full-length book must be taking more money as it is priced very highly for an ebook at $14.34.

Karin Slaughter's prequel Busted is still outselling the main event, Unseen.
Karin Slaughter’s prequel Busted is still outselling the main event, Unseen.

Karin Slaughter is another best-selling writer who is publishing singles as prequels to forthcoming novels. Busted, a comparatively hefty 77pp tome, came out in May and served as a taster to Unseen, featuring her Will Trent character. The single costs $1.93 and is currently ranked No 416 paid in the Kindle store while the $11.54 full-length ebook is trailing behind at No 1,119.