QuickJAB

Reader Magnet Short Story, Chapter 1

What Is a Reader Magnet?

A year ago, I had no idea what a reader magnet was. In my literalness, I envisioned a nice refrigerator magnet with a picture of a book and a puppy. And maybe a kitten and a chicken for good measure. I don’t know about anybody else’s readers except mine – but we all like books, puppies, kittens, and chickens.

Then I stumbled across the idea of a “short story” that would give a reader a taste of the author’s brilliant writing. My first thought: That’s dreadful.

The Short Story that Wasn’t a Reader Magnet

Case in point: I wrote a short story called Barter and Bargains three years ago and submitted it to millions of contests. (I typed jillions, but autocorrect frowns on exaggeration.) The maximum word count allowed was 5,000, so I had to trim my 7,500-word story back with a hatchet.

I received two recurring criticisms:

  1. The story was too nice.
  2. The critic/judge wanted to know more about the characters.

I learned four things from the experience:

  1. I write nice characters that people want to know more about.
  2. I am a great storyteller.
  3. My writing craft skills needed work.
  4. I can’t write short.
  5. Wait, make it five: I’m not deflated by criticism.

What’s an Overgrown Short Story?

I expanded my short story to a longer story that I learned could be called a novella. Another unfamiliar bookish word for a reader becoming a writer who was learning about publishing.

I still didn’t have a reader magnet, but I had a nice short novel about a nice donut shop. I called my novella Sweet Deal until someone pointed out all the romance books that were titled, Sweet Deal.

Sidetrip: Genre

Then I learned another word. Genre. Whatever it meant exactly, I wasn’t sure, but I was definitely positive I was not a romance genre type of writer. Mystery? Yes. Science Fiction? Yes? Throw in a little Supernatural? Always.

Unwritten, Non-Negotiable Rules

After I published the novella, named Sweet Deal Sealed with the subtitle Novella, I marveled at the encouragement from readers for me to write another book about the Donut Lady. So I wrote Sweet Deal Concealed, Book 2, a longer book that is referred to as a novel, and the Donut Lady Mystery Series was born. Last summer, I published Sweet Deal Revealed, Book 3, another novel. Little did I know there is a magical rule in the Invisible Publishing Rule Book that says a series cannot have a novella as Book 1 if all the subsequent books in the series are novels.

Fighting an invisible rule is not healthy for one’s sanity. Take my word for it. It drove me crazy that “they” insisted on calling Book 1 Book 0.5 because it was a novella; and Book 2? “They” call it Book 1. Book 3? Book 2. “They” live by rules, not logic. Rant over.

If You Can’t Beat Them, Do Something Different

So I expanded Sweet Deal Sealed: A Novella to a second edition, full-length novel by adding a murder or two and called it Sweet Deal Sealed. Clever, no?

Side note: Amazon has been absolutely amazing in their support as I’m going through the process of replacing the novella with a novel and eventually retiring the novella. 

This is all well and good and an absolutely lengthy story that probably could use a murder right about now to help the plot move along. However, I still don’t have a reader magnet.

Where is Reader Magnet?

Do we leave our hero, Reader Magnet, lost in the maze of bookish words and invisible rules? Of course not! Reader Magnet hitches up her pants and begins her quest for her true identity.

The Cliffhanger Part

While we’re waiting for the next installment of Reader Magnet, feel free to check out all my books on Amazon. Note: None of them are short stories or novellas except the one we sent to retirement, but she’s away at the moment as far as Amazon is concerned.

Judith A. Barrett Author Page

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