Tess Gerritsen released a $1.99 mini e-book, 'Jone Doe: A Rizzoli & Isles Short Story,' in advance of the Aug. 28 release of her novel 'Last to Die.'
Care for a literary hors d'oeuvre?
Mini e-books are being served up this summer as bite-size appetizers for the main course to follow.
Thriller maven Tess Gerritsen, whose Rizzoli & Isles series is the basis for the TNT show now in its third season, released on Monday a $1.99 mini e-book, John Doe: A Rizzoli & Isles Short Story, in advance of her novel Last to Die, due Aug. 28.
Craig Johnson of Sheriff Walt Longmire mystery fame did the same this spring.
Viking released Johnson's Divorce Horse as an original eSpecial story on April 16. Price: $3.99. In it, Longmire, Johnson's hero, is preparing for everything from his daughter's wedding to the upcoming American Indian Days Parade and Pow Wow - all a lead-up to Johnson's latest Longmire mystery, As the Crow Flies, which went on sale May 15.
"I look upon it as connecting tissue," says Johnson, speaking from his home in Wyoming. "It's a good way of providing a bridge between books."
It's also an opportunity to feed a voracious, digitally savvy public no longer willing to wait between books. The public appears willing to plop down a couple of bucks for a teaser before paying $25 for the real deal.
"The success of short, stand-alone prequels to upcoming hardcovers is that it feeds the hunger readers have for new stories from their favorite authors," says Molly Barton, global digital director for Penguin. "Releasing a story before a full-length novel helps bring the author to the forefront, which then drives anticipation and pre-orders of the new book."
Riding the trend is Lee Child's newest Jack Reacher thriller, Wanted Man, out in September. It's being ushered in by his $1.99 mini e-book, Deep Down, published July 16 as a Kindle Single. It enters USA TODAY's Best-Selling Books list today at No. 11.
Child did the same last August when he offered Second Son, a Kindle Single look at Reacher as a teenager, just weeks before releasing The Affair in September 2011. Second Son reached No. 8 on USA TODAY's best-seller list.
Scott Shannon, publisher of digital content for Random House, calls it a "win-win for everyone," saying readers can "sample" the smaller pieces and writers can write shorter. "It's just an excellent marketing vehicle for us."
Such noted authors as Taylor Branch, Stephen King, Walter Mosley, Ann Patchett and Amy Tan have also joined the "brief brigade," even without a larger book to promote.