8 Problems With Writing Short Reads in 2020

There is a problem with writing short reads. The real problem is that it’s not just one. The list seems to be growing!

It’s ironic that I’m writing about this topic. I’ve been a short reads writer since 2015 turning out 30+ short reads over 5 years.

These novellas, short reads, fast reads, quick reads or whatever you want to call them have been good to me. Thirteen of them have hit #1 on Amazon in category. Some of them outsold Peter James, Jeffrey Archer and Ann Cleeves for a period.

I’m grateful but these short reads are exposing a few more problems that when I started. Here’s a few problems, from an author’s perspective, that are occurring:

  1. Short reads are short

    Most readers like longer books; 50,000 words plus. Short reads can be 200 – 25,000 words with the most popular being 15,000 – 20,000 words or 50 – 70 pages. For some readers that’s not enough.

    The market is small.

  2. Short reads don’t allow character development.

    Short books are fast by nature. The plot needs to be fast. There’s very little room to develop characters within.

    Solution: develop a series of short books where a character can grow. Readers will appreciate getting to know a character more.

  3. Short reads writing needs momentum

    Readers who like quick reads look forward to another book quickly. If the production time to too spread out, readers lose interest and move onto another author.

    Solution: authors need to set themselves a daily writing routine guaranteeing themselves of regular output. A daily discipline of 1000  words a day for 5 days a week will see a new book hitting the market every 2-3 weeks, taking in editing, formatting and book cover design.

  4. Short reads pricing is low

    It’s virtually impossible to achieve a selling price above 99 cents for a fast read of around 10,000 words, even if you are a big time author. Amazon’s 35 cent commission doesn’t go too far after labour, production and marketing costs are added up.

    Solution: without succumbing to writing larger books, authors can box 3-5 short reads into a set to increase the price; possible to $2.99

  5. Short reads and Kindle Unlimited

    For USD$9.90 readers can join KU and ‘borrow’ books to read. Amazon compensates readers with a page read payment from a monthly bonus pool. It has been as high as a half a cent.

    Short reads have the advantage of potentially getting read from start to finish. Longer books can falter with readers quitting half way through. But page reads on a 350 page novel even if only 50% far out way a 60 page short read fully read.
    Solution: either more marketing to the box set that has been reduced to 99 cents or write longer books.

  6. Short read production costs

    Costs to publish a short book are similar to a novel.

    A book cover price isn’t discriminated against novels. All books require a cover; both for ebooks and print books. Short reads usually only produce eBook covers as the print version is too small.

    Formatting the original manuscript into a mobi file for eBook distribution on Amazon is smaller than a novel. Some authors use other book distribution outlets that may require other forms of formatting, like ePub.

    Solution: Look at the platform where your book sells best. Produce your book for that market. eg Amazon prefers mobi files.

    Editing is also cheaper due to size but it does take a significant amount of an author’s 35 cent payout. Many sales are needed.

  7. Short read upload costs

    Uploading a book to Amazon is quite simple. But if an author is technically challenged, then he or she will need to hire some help.

    Solution: Fiverr.com has experts to help authors upload their book. at very reasonable prices.

  8. Short read marketing costs

    Marketing and advertising costs are not determined by the size of a book.

    Book promotion sites like Bargainbooksy.com or The Fussy Librarian charge a flat fee no matter how many pages are in your book. With their fees of around USD$75 it’s hard to make money unless you get a lot of downloads.

    Then there’s Book Bub. Should you be lucky enough to get a Book Bub deals, an author can expect to pay $175 – $750 for a promotion. Now that’s a lot of 35 cent commissions to break even.

    Then you’ve got Facebook ads or Amazon ads. Even with a $5/day promotion, an author will need at least 15 sales/day just to get square.

    Short book marketing costs can be high against the return


Short reads do have problems. By nature they are short, expenses are high and payments from platforms like Amazon, are low. Marketing is required but again the costs particularly on Facebook Ads compared to the return can make the whole promotion not worth it.

The solution for shorts though is to get lots of them into the market place, produce often and streamline costs. Couple with a healthy page read rate on Kindle Unlimited a sustainable income can be achieved.

Did I miss anything?

I’d love your comments:

  • do you think one problems stands out above all others? If so which one?
  • did I miss one you think is glaringly obvious?

Let me know and please share on social media.