5 Ways for Writers to Build Readership on Wattpad

by Kristina Ludwig
Nov 20
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: November 20, 2014 at 8:49 am

Recently, I joined Wattpad, a social media community that lets you read, vote for, and comment on the work of other writers, as well as post your own stories. Wattpad is the ideal platform for authors of YA fiction, since teens and young adults are the primary users. Once I checked out Wattpad, I knew that it would be the ideal medium to build my readership, allowing me to reach fans in my new genre, teen mermaid romances.

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With this in mind, I’ve spent a few hours a week on Wattpad, and have built up more than 50 followers in the past two weeks. I know this is just a start, and my goal is to reach at least 1000 by the end of the year. But here are 5 strategies I’ve implemented so far to increase my followers and build readership of my story, The Mermaid’s Curse.

  1. Search by keyword - I searched the keywords “mermaid,” “mermaid fiction,” teen mermaid,” and “merman,” just to name a few. These searches brought up stories as well as users with “mermaid” in their  usernames. I added all the stories to my library, and have been reading them as market research. I also followed all the users I could find related to mermaids. Many of these users followed me back automatically after I followed them, and still more followed me after I voted for and commented on their stories.
  2. Search by category -  I also searched by broad categories, such as “Paranormal,” “Teen Fiction,” and “Fantasy.” I joined some groups for users interested in these categories, followed several users, and added stories to my library. After I did this, my followers increased again.
  3. Follow users with large and small fan bases - I follow “big ticket” and “small ticket” users. The users with many fans are great, because I can study their profiles and works to ascertain how they became successful. However, I also like to follow users with small fan bases, since they’re more likely to have the time and inclination to follow me back, respond to my comments on their stories, and read my work. One strategy I found was to follow a very popular user and then check out the people who commented on his or her story and follow them, too. Many of these people have smaller followings, and I found that they follow me back and comment on my stories.
  4. Interact often - Comment on stories, message new followers or people you’ve followed, join groups, dedicate chapters to fellow Wattpad users, and vote on stories. Wattpad is a community of reciprocity, and if you give others your time, interest, and attention, it will come back to you. I have already had two chapters dedicated to me because I really connected with another user who incorporates celestial elements like the moon and stars into her stories, and liked the way I also did this in The Mermaid’s Curse. 
  5. Publish your best work - Wattpad is pretty raw, and many writers post first drafts with grammatical errors and punctuation issues. I like to give every story a chance, but when I stumble upon a work in which the author used “they’re” instead of “their” or some similarly offensive faux pas, I usually stop reading immediately. I know everyone is not so discerning, and many of the users are barely out of middle school, but I find that the works with the most views, votes, and comments are polished, with a sound plot structure and correct grammar. Sharing your best work on Wattpad can enable you to stand out. Another great strategy I’ve employed as I post The Mermaid’s Curse chapter by chapter is including a link to the book on Amazon at the end of the chapter. This encourages readers to buy it for only 99 cents. I also plan to message all my followers when I have a free promotional day on the book.

Other writers out there, are you a Wattpad user? If so, what strategies have you used to increase your readership? I’d love to hear about your experiences!

It’s Here: Amish Awakening Has Launched!

by Kristina Ludwig
Sep 24
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: September 24, 2014 at 9:50 am

Amish Awakening sliderI’m thrilled to announce that Amish Awakening: Rebekah and Braeden’s Book, has launched. I will be offering it for only 99 cents (almost 70% off regular price) today through Sunday, so be sure to check it out!

Amish Awakening has been a team effort in many ways. The cover is the product of tons of fan feedback on my Facebook page, and even the title of the book was my friend Jonathan’s idea when a big group of us had a brainstorming session during brunch. Thanks to everyone who provided me with helpful feedback throughout the writing and cover design process!

Here’s a free excerpt from the new book. Chapter One can be found in the back of Amish Bakery Challenge: Mercy and Samuel’s Bookwhile I shared Chapter Two on a recent blog post. Happy reading!

Chapter Three: Rebekah

 I sip my second cup of coffee, typing furiously on Braeden’s laptop. For the past hour, I’ve been Googling summer veterinary internships in the Pittsburgh area, and even outside the city. So far, however, I haven’t found anything promising. Everything I’ve found has been closed; the interns have been selected, and some of the internships have even started.

Braeden peeks over my shoulder. “Impressive typing skills, lightning fingers. I can’t believe that there was once a time when you didn’t know how to type at all.”

I laugh at the memory of my first experience with a computer. In my years of Amish schooling, I’d never touched a computer, and when I’d had a biology report due, I’d tried using the computers in the Cathedral of Learning lab to type it up. Braeden had been with me, printing off his own lab report, and he’d watched with amusement as I’d hunted and pecked my way around the keyboard. Thankfully, he’d been there to show me how to save the report, and print it out. Otherwise, I would’ve had to spend another two hours redoing all my work.

“Yeah, I think I’ve improved a bit.” I smile at him, and when he grins back, I appreciate just how handsome he is for the first time that day. His glossy black hair falls into his bright blue eyes, and a bit of stubble coats his chin; it’s just enough to look rugged and manly without seeming scruffy.

Without warning, Braeden takes my coffee cup from my hand. And then, a second later, my toes curl and my entire body rushes to life when his lips land on mine.

Braeden really is the best kisser, not that I’ve had a ton of experience. The only other boy I ever kissed was Jakob, an Amish guy who is now married to my old friend Hannah, and already has a child.

When Braeden and I finally pull apart, it seems like I have to spend a full minute just to catch my breath.

“I guess we should get back to work,” I say, rubbing my lips, which feel swollen and hot. “This was the best possible distraction, but I have to focus now. There’s got to be some internship that’s still hiring.”

Braeden points to the computer screen. “How about this one?”

“Ugh, it’s in Butler County—that’s so far away. And it doesn’t start until next month. Plus, it’s with a vet who specializes in farm animals, and I really don’t want to work in the country.”

“It’s funny how much you’ve changed, Rebekah,” Braeden says. “A couple of years ago, treating farm animals was your dream. Now it’s like your nightmare.”

I shrug. “People change. Back then, the country was all I knew. I actually thought I’d want to move back to my Amish community after graduation. Now I definitely know better. I like the city. There’s no way I’m moving back there unless I’m forced.”

Braeden chuckles. “Well, you know I wouldn’t force you. I like having you here. But Rebekah, don’t you feel like you’re just a bit in denial of your Amish past?”

“Not really. What did we learn in freshman psych? People adapt to their environments. So do animals, for that matter. It’s a survival mechanism. So, of course, I’m not going to want to go back to the way things were before—not when I’m so happy now.”

“Okay,” Braeden says, quirking his mouth up on one side. “But still, why don’t you apply for the internship anyway? It’s better than nothing.”

“I guess.” I click the link, and fill out my application. Braeden is right—it is better than nothing, and right now, nothing else is out there.

Libraries Going Strong: Trends in Libraries Today

by Kristina Ludwig
Sep 4
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: September 4, 2014 at 12:53 pm

This past weekend, Antonio and I traveled to Chicago to celebrate our first wedding anniversary, bond with friends, and revisit our favorite places. Naturally, we ended up in the Harold Washington Library, one of the most beautiful–and hugest–libraries I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing.

 

The gorgeous interior of Chicago's Harold Washington Library.

The gorgeous interior of Chicago’s Harold Washington Library.

I’ve heard about the struggles of libraries to fit into today’s internet-centric world of eBooks, emagazines, and online resources, and this news always saddens me. I grew up in libraries, signed up for my first library card the summer before first grade, and checked out books by the armload all through my childhood. Back in the 90s, we had summer reading programs, in which kids could earn prizes according to how many books they read. For me, the prizes were just the icing on the cake; the real prizes were the books themselves.

Librarians were creative back then, dreaming up ways to recruit kids into the library in droves, but now they have to be even more resourceful. My trip to the Harold Washington Library showed me that libraries–and librarians–have stepped up to the challenge, and truly are evolving with the changing times.

A view of the YOUmedia Center in the Harold Washington Library

A view of the YOUmedia Center in the Harold Washington Library

As the surge in YA fiction’s popularity has demonstrated, teens are a huge group of readers, but it’s difficult to filter them into libraries, with their busy schedules and propensity to buy eBooks online as opposed to checking them out of the library. Harold Washington Library’s solution was building the YOUmedia Center, where youth can congregate, meeting with mentors who teach them about various 21st century skills like digital design, 3D printing, robotics, coding and digital music production. Antonio and I dropped in to the YOUmedia Center on a Saturday afternoon after sight-seeing at Millennium Park, and we were impressed with the turnout, as well as by the teens’ projects on display.

The "Maker Station" in the Harold Washington Library is where teens head to work on interesting projects, such as digital design.

The “Maker Station” in the Harold Washington Library is where teens head to work on interesting projects, such as digital design.

Our local library in Carlsbad also offers many interesting programs for teens, such as the homework zone and special events like talent shows, popcorn and board games, and pizza and movies. All of these events are the perfect way to draw teens and their friends to the library and steer them toward reading.

And great news: Libraries and eBooks don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Several libraries have now become “eBook lending libraries,” and there might even be a branch near you. Check out this link for a list of libraries that participate in this program.

Readers and writers, what do you think of today’s library trends? Have you noticed anything new and innovative in your local libraries? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

The Benefits of Reading 30 Books a Month

by Kristina Ludwig
Aug 14
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: August 14, 2014 at 11:44 am

Ever since childhood, I was a serial reader–as soon as I finished a book, I’d immediately pick up another one. As a result, I never took a break between books. Sometimes, I would even read two at once. I was a great lover of fiction, but my parents had a rule in the summer that I had to read a non-fiction book for every fiction one. Luckily, I was a really fast reader, and could tear through the non-fiction quickly so I could move on to the “good stuff.” I would read first thing in the morning, sometimes during meals, and before bed to unwind. I also became a great multi-tasker, reading as I brushed my teeth, blow-dried my hair, or waited for a ride home from one of my numerous after-school activities.

Fast-forward to today, when I do pretty much the same thing. Now, however, being a book junkie is much easier because of awesome technological advances like Kindles and Audible Books. People often ask me how many books I read per week or per month, and I sometimes have difficulty finding an answer. Countless? I don’t even post every book I’ve read on Goodreads, although I probably should, to keep track of them all.

There are so many benefits to filling your brain with books!

There are so many benefits to filling your brain with books!

Last night, Antonio and I were discussing how many books I devour voraciously per month, and we boiled it down to about 30. This includes the books I agree to review for other authors, some of which are short self-help books (about 30-50 pages on Kindle), as well as Audible books and other eBooks that I read for pleasure. I love the library, but find myself reading eBooks most of the time because they’re inexpensive and super-convenient to download. Plus, I adore Kindle Unlimited and am always at my 10-book limit, since I like to think ahead. :)

There are so many benefits to reading 30 books per month, and here are just a few:

  • Continual learning - I’m over my aversion to non-fiction, and have started reading “factual” books in subjects that interest me, such as psychology and real estate investment. Once we graduate from college, it’s easy to let learning take the backseat to, well, life. The danger is that your mind will stagnate. Avid readers don’t have that problem, since they embrace the beauty of learning every day from books. Audible is my medium of choice for non-fiction, and I frequently listen to motivational books, like “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” by Guy Kawasaki, while working out at the gym.
  • Market research -  As a writer, I often read books in genres that I’m writing. Evaluating best sellers in the market allows us as writers to gauge where we fit into that niche. For example, when I decided to write my Amish series, I perused several Amish fiction eBooks. Right now, I’m writing an Amish teen novella and a contemporary teen novel about fame simultaneously, and I’ve been reading several YA books with themes of celebrities and overnight fame. Some of my favorites have been “Girl With Guitar” by Casey Quinn, “Relatively Famous” by Jessica Park, “The Accidental Movie Star” by Emily Evans, and “The Rock Star’s Daughter” by Caitlin Duffy.
  • Efficient use of time - Reading is the ideal way to kill a few minutes while you’re waiting in line or riding the train, and the fact that we can read on our mobile devices makes it so convenient! Audible books are great during a drive, or while running on the treadmill. And the best thing about reading while you wait is that the time passes so quickly and enjoyably, and your brain has grown in the process! It’s tempting to use all your “waiting time” for social media, but I always schedule some reading into the equation.
  • It’s entertaining - Reading is an awesome form of entertainment, and it’s more mentally engaging than watching TV or a movie. Antonio and I have a self-enforced 1-hour of TV per day rule, and sometimes we don’t even watch that much. Replacing some TV time with reading makes for a more active mind!
  • It expands your horizons - I love to travel, but on a day-to-day basis, reading is the next best thing. It’s incredible to immerse yourself in new worlds and become acquainted with interesting characters. And if you’re looking to learn something new, there are thousands of non-fiction books on any subject under the sun. Back to the subject of books and travel, I often enjoy reading books that take place in the region I’m traveling to, usually when I’m on the plane. For example, when I went to London, I read a book set there. Try it next time you’re going on vacation–you’ll be even more pumped when you reach your destination!

Avid readers out there, what would you say are the greatest benefits of reading? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Amish Wedding Launch

by Kristina Ludwig
Apr 24
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: April 24, 2014 at 8:30 am

I’ve been fairly obsessed lately with the writing and/or editing of Book 2 of the Amish in College series, “Amish Wedding: Hannah’s Book.” Now, I’m happy to announce that it’s live on Amazon!

Amish Wedding

“Amish Wedding: Hannah’s Book” was so much fun to research and write, and I was excited to give supporting character Hannah a place to tell her story. Plus, being a newlywed myself, I really found myself relating to Hannah!

Want to check out an excerpt before you buy it? If so, here’s Chapter 3. (Hint: Find Chapter 1 at the end of “Amish Faith: Rebekah’s Book,” the first book of the series, and Chapter 2 on a recent blog post.)

Chapter Three

 

Jakob remains there, gazing up at me as he balances on one knee. His hair shimmers in the moonlight, as pale as the moon itself, and a shiver runs through my entire body. I feel like I’m in one of those dreams where I can think but can’t talk—although those dreams are usually nightmares, whereas right now I’m literally frozen with happiness.

I finally manage to choke out, “Yah.” My voice becomes clearer and stronger, as I say, “I love you too, Jakob. And I want you to be my Mann, forever.”

Before I even know what’s happening, Jakob hoists me out of the buggy, swinging me around in circles. Clouds of dust swirl around us as he spins across the driveway, and I laugh and shriek in delight.

I should be worried that my parents will come out in their nightclothes, demanding to know what’s going on, but somehow I just can’t bring myself to care. I’m engaged at last—to the one that I love more than anything in the world.

Jakob and I will belong to each other forever. I’m so excited to start our married lives together, and we won’t have to wait long. It’s already July, and our wedding will have to take place in November or December, after the harvest. That means we could be Mann and Fraa in only four months!

Jakob finally lowers me to the ground, staggering a bit from the dizzying twirling. And as my body comes back to earth, so does my brain. Only four months until the wedding. There is a lot of work to be done, starting with some celery planting.

***

The next morning, Eliza and I awaken at 5 AM for chores; first, we gather eggs from the hens and milk the cows. Then, we help my mother prepare breakfast. As we fry up bacon and eggs, I ask my mother if we can invite Jakob over for dinner that night, and she says yes with a slightly raised eyebrow. I have a feeling that she senses my joy—she might even suspect the reason behind it.

I bite my lip, holding back the giddy desire to tell everyone in sight about Jakob’s proposal. I want to keep it secret from my parents until tonight, when Jakob and I will announce our intentions.

Now it’s 6:15 AM, almost time to head out the door for work at Stoltzfus Bakery.  I may not want my whole family to know about my engagement yet, but I know I can’t possibly wait all day to tell Eliza.

“Guess what?” I say as Eliza slips on her work shoes.

“What?” she asks. She must sense the energy in my voice, because she looks up at me, studying my face with keen hazel eyes.

I lower my voice to a whisper. My older brothers have married and moved out, but there’s still my nosy thirteen year-old sister Rachel and my twelve year-old brother Isaac to deal with.

“Jakob proposed to me last night.” I gesture to the delicate clock, which I’d placed on the dresser the night before. “He gave me this when he asked for my hand.”

“Wow, Hannah,” Eliza says. “I’m so dazed, I barely know what to say—except congratulations, of course. I knew it was coming, but a proposal is always such a wunderlich surprise.”

I smile. “It sure is. I can hardly believe that it really happened. And now there’s so much to do. Jakob and I will announce our intentions to Mammi and Daadi over dinner tonight. And then, I’ll have to start sewing my dress, and the newehockers’ dresses, too. Of course, you’ll stand up with me in the wedding, and so will Mercy and Rebekah, maybe cousin Ruth—”

Eliza laughs, clapping her hands over her ears. “Slow down, Hannah,” she chides me. “You’re only just engaged. Why don’t you enjoy that a little first before you go planning everything out?”

I roll my eyes as my mind continues to make lists of all the things I have to do. “I am enjoying it. But there’s also a lot to think about. Some day, you’ll understand.”

I flash Eliza a grin as we both straighten up and head out the door. Her reaction was fun to watch, but I’m really looking forward to seeing Mercy’s.

How to Know if You Love Your Job…and Other Reflections

by Kristina Ludwig
Mar 27
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: March 27, 2014 at 10:25 am

I’m pleased to announce that my newest Amish YA eBook, Amish Faith: Rebekah’s Book, is free today only! Download it if you’re looking for a fun new read.

And in other news… I celebrated my birthday earlier this week. I don’t know about you, but birthdays make me excited. I haven’t reached that point of thinking of my b-day as “just another day,” or, heaven forbid, hating it!

I doubt I ever will because, for me, birthdays have always been times of reflection as well as celebration. As my “year” draws to a close, I reflect upon how many things I’ve accomplished, and celebrate them. I also visualize my next year of life, setting goals and imagining new ways to evolve.

This past year was a huge one for me, since I experienced basically every major life change possible–I got married, moved cross-country, and switched careers. I remember back to my birthday last year, when I was working as a pharmacist. I did not want to work on my birthday, In fact, when my scheduler said that she might not be able to find coverage for me, I had every intention of calling in sick. Luckily, she was able to find an extra board pharmacist to work for me that day, so I didn’t have to resort to plan B. :)

I share this little anecdote with you because on my birthday this year, I did work–at writing. Much to my chagrin, it was a cloudy day, so the beach and pool were out. :( Luckily, I enjoy many indoor activities, and was able to do most of them during the day on my birthday: yoga, piano, shopping, and, of course, writing–my new career, which should be work, but feels like fun!

Snoopy knows what's up. Writing rules!

Snoopy knows what’s up. Writing rules!

The contrast between last year, when working on my birthday was something I eschewed, and this year, when I not only chose to work on my birthday, but enjoyed it, confirmed what I already knew: that my career change was the best possible one for me. Sure, there are “occupational hazards” that go along with a career in writing, but it’s my passion. If you had asked the “me of last year” whether I’d ever work on my birthday, I would’ve answered with a vehement, “No way!” But ask me now and I’ll say, “Sure. I love to work.” And it’s all because we might call it work, but it sure doesn’t feel like it.

Is writing your passion? If so, go for it–you won’t be sorry! And if you have any questions along the way, don’t be afraid to ask me or another author. I think the best thing about the indie author revolution is how collaborative the formerly “closed shop” of publishing has become. There’s never been a better time to be a writer. :) Who knows, by this time next year, you might be working on your birthday…willingly!

Gearing Up for a Book Launch: 5 Things to Do

by Kristina Ludwig
Oct 3
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: October 3, 2013 at 12:30 pm

I’m excited to announce that I will be launching the Kindle version of my new Amish YA fiction novella, Rumspringa Break, on October 10th. Long-time followers of my blog may recall this title in short story form. Since then, I’ve tweaked the storyline, added more drama, conflict, and intrigue, and changed the ending. (And the middle, for that matter — the beginning is the only part that’s somewhat similar to the original version.) The short story ran about 11 pages, and the novella is a whopping 54 — hopefully the ideal length for YA readers and adults looking for a relatively quick but satisfying read with crossover appeal.

Gearing up to launch an indie eBook is both energizing and exhausting. There’s so much that goes into it: promotion and marketing on the endless stream of social media, attending networking events to spread the word in person, putting together the book description, and editing and formatting the book. I recommend checking out this article by Nick Thacker about launching a book in three easy steps.

The cover of Rumspringa Break

The cover of Rumspringa Break, coming to you on 10/10/13!

Here are 5 things I’ve done to prepare for the book launch on 10/10, in no particular order. I hope it helps any writers out there who may be gearing up for their own book launches.

  1. Attended a Network After Work event, where I distributed flyers for the new book and met professionals in various areas of employment. I even connected with another author, who’d just published a book on Amazon.
  2. Signed up for a writing conference in LA. It’s called the Digital Author and Self-Publishing conference, and it will be the perfect place to connect with other authors and promote the new book, especially because it’s happening 2 days after my launch. There’s still time to sign up by the way, so any writers looking to hobnob with other indies should check it out!
  3. Prepared to launch my author website. The developers are still working a few kinks out of it, but my author website is officially up and running. As soon as it passes my test, I will post all the information on this blog, as well as my other social media accounts. Soon, this blog will be running from my author website! The website will have fun features like Free Book Fridays, where I will host giveaways for all my eBooks, especially Rumspringa Break. 
  4. Maintained social media presence. Authors’ platforms are important all the time, but especially before launching a book. I have been focusing on increasing my Twitter followers, posting regularly to Facebook and Google+, and blogging twice a week. I love these activities anyway, so it’s as much fun as it is work.
  5. Put together the most professional product possible. I enlisted the services of Katrina Joyner at Premade Covers 4U, and purchased the perfect book cover. And, of course, there’s editing, formatting, etc. It may seem tedious, but it’s so important for self-published authors to put their best work out there!

 

 

You Are What You Read: Reading and Its Influence on Writing

by Kristina Ludwig
Sep 30
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: September 30, 2013 at 12:53 pm

I’ve been reading YA fiction, in some form, since elementary school. As I reached age 20, I began closet-reading it, because I figured I was “too old” for the stuff. However, at some point in my early 20′s, I realized it was actually okay for adults to read YA novels, and, in fact, many people were doing exactly the same thing. As a result, I’ve shamelessly devoured these juicy literary concoctions ever since.

When I was growing up, I wrote voraciously, illustrating my stories and stapling them together into “books.” The heroines were always exactly my age, perhaps a year or two older. But when I reached my twenties, I found that I no longer wrote about people “just my age.” While I grew older, my heroines stayed in the YA age group.

I always thought this phenomenon occurred simply because I loved my teen years and found the activities, interpersonal relationships, and daily dramas to be so vivid and ripe with storyline possibilities.

But I’ve realized that there’s another factor at play as well: I am what I read.

It’s a well-known fact that writers are a product of not only their training, but what kind of literature they prefer to read. In essence, we are what we read. That’s why one writer can incorporate such an eclectic mix of elements into his or her fiction. It’s also why certain authors in the paranormal genres mix some contemporary elements with others that are pure magic. We learn by reading, and the things we read show up in our writing…sometimes entirely unbeknownst to us!

I adore contemporary YA fiction, but I also frequently indulge in the classics, especially the literature of Jane Austen. Emma  is one of my favorite books, and the movie Clueless, which was based on Emma’s classic storyline, was a fave of mine growing up. That’s why I was blown away when my writing instructor, MG and YA author Nancy Butts, told me that Aubree, the heroine in my upcoming novel, reminded her of a Jane Austen character with her relentless honesty and endearing blind spots, and that I reminded her of Jane Austen in the ability to capture the dynamics of a “small, encapsulated society such as high school.” I’d never realized I incorporated these elements into my writing. Yet, because of what I read, they showed up.

I subconsciously incorporated elements of the beloved classic Emma while writing my new novel, because I am what I read.

I subconsciously incorporated elements of Jane Austen’s beloved classic, Emma, into my upcoming novel…because I am what I read!

Now that I’m working hard on my Amish YA fiction novella, I’ve been peering into a new genre, the wonderful world of Amish fiction. I just downloaded several Amish fiction works on my Kindle, and have already dove into one! If anyone has recently read some great Amish fiction, please let me know. :)

Writers out there, how are you what you read? Who are some of the most influential authors you’ve read, and how have elements of their writing shown up in yours?

 

Five Reasons to Love Novellas

by Kristina Ludwig
Sep 23
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: September 23, 2013 at 1:24 pm

As I’ve been hammering out my Amish YA fiction novella, I’ve realized how much fun novellas are to read and to write. Did you know that some of the most famous classic literary works, such as Ernest Hemingway’s Old Man and the Sea and Charles Dickens’ The Christmas Carol were novellas?

Novellas comprise the literary genre halfway between short stories and novels. As their name implies, novellas are shorter than novels, yet longer than short stories. However, the main trait that distinguishes novellas from the other genres is their level of conflict: Novellas have more conflict than short stories, yet less conflict (and less developed conflict) than novels.

Since novellas are often intended to be read in one sitting, they’re usually written without chapters, but I’ve found that there’s really no right or wrong. I’m writing my novella with short micro-chapters, and I find that these chapters break up the plot more neatly and improve the overall flow.

There are just so many reasons to love these cute little “mini novels.” Here, I tell you five:

5 things to love about novellas

5 of the many things to love about novellas

  1. Since they’re shorter than novels, they’re a quicker, more focused read.
  2. They leave readers more satisfied than short stories because of their deeper conflict.
  3. They’re ideal for reluctant readers of any genre, especially YA, because of their length and the relative simplicity of their plots.
  4. They’re a challenging writing exercise because they encourage authors to choose words and descriptions more wisely.
  5. They’re ideal for reading — or writing — in a series, because they really are addictive.

With all these strengths, it’s no wonder that some of the best-known classics were novellas. In fact, I think novellas are ready to make a comeback, especially in YA!

Emo YA: Making Your Highs and Lows Work for You

by Kristina Ludwig
Sep 19
By: Kristina Ludwig Posted: September 19, 2013 at 1:40 pm

Young Adult fiction is full of epic highs and crushing lows, much like the teen years themselves. It is highly dramatic by nature, radiating with vivid emotions.

As I’ve written my own YA fiction, I’ve realized something that other writers might find useful: The mood of the author, and the circumstances in his / her life, will influence the moods of the characters and the atmosphere of the story. Therefore, if a writer is having a particularly turbulent or extremely happy time in life, he / she should try to have the characters’ lives mirror this, as it will paint a more vibrant emotional picture.

And sometimes, a writer may not even have to try. Often, writers may incorporate their highs and lows into the characters subconsciously. This was exactly what happened when I wrote my contemporary YA novel, which will be released in a matter of months.

Just like the skyscrapers of a great city (here, San Francisco), life has its highs and lows. Make sure to use them in your writing!

Just like the skyscrapers of a great city (here, San Francisco), life has its highs and lows. Make sure to use them in your writing!

In the novel, Aubree, the fourteen year-old heroine, starts out on top of the world. But a move to a new city and a huge, super-competitive school undermines her self-confidence. At a writing conference last year, I learned that one of the most important page-turning traits of all fiction, especially YA, is to really torture the heroine. The main character has to face a seemingly never-ending series of problems to keep readers engaged.

Since I was going through a rather difficult time of transition, stress, and emotional upheaval myself, I found it easy to translate my mood into the story. Aubree certainly was tortured as she navigated a maze of family, social, boy, and identity crises.

For me, torturing the heroine was therapeutic. I was able to pour my own strong and rather dramatic emotions into the tempestuous teenage heroine, and in the end, all that powerful passion translated into art. My mom told me that sometimes artists have to suffer for their art, and I truly believe that other writers going through hard times should use writing as therapy…and create a high-tension page-turner in the process!

As my own real life sorted itself out, so did Aubree’s fictitious one. It was easy to reconcile Aubree’s problems because my own life was also reconciling. The concluding chapters of the novel are decidedly more light-hearted. Aubree will always be a dramatic character, but her mood is more stable, as befits an ending.

So the take-away is this: When the going gets tough, the tough write fiction. If you’re feeling a little emo, write a story with high emotion!

But before you go paint the town with words, I should conclude the post with one caviat. It’s great to infuse your work with passion, but at times it may get a little too emo. At times like that, I recall a conversation that I had with my dad when I was about four and we were listening to Mozart. My dad told me, “Mozart’s music is so perfect because he never takes it too far.”

Take-home message: If you’re feeling a little too rambunctious, vent another way or you’ll take it too far and cross that fragile line into the melodramatic. It’s all about moderation. And furthermore, writing may be therapeutic, but it should never be used as sole therapy. Emo can backfire. So make sure to infuse emo into your writing responsibly. ;)