What the heck are BookShots

And no, they are not inoculations to prevent you from getting the dreaded book worms. BookShots are, in fact, the brainchild of James Patterson, the man who sells more books than there are zombies playing Pokemon Go. They made their debut last month and are literally popping up everywhere.

BookShots are a very clever bit of marketing targeted to today’s dwindling attention spans. They are, in every sense of the word, novellas. You know, not quite a short story, not quite a novel. For authors who think in word counts, novellas tend to settle between the 25-50k word range. Novels, on the other hand, are typically 90k words or more. Novellas have been around forever and a day and night. What’s new with BookShots is the branding and availability.

cross kill

They’re fast reads that pack a lot of punch in a little package. It’s usually hard to find novellas in print. They’ve become the darling of the ebook world. BookShots, on the other hand, are being  published in print with wide, and I mean WIDE, distribution. They’re designed for readers on the go who want to be thrilled or romanced in one or two sittings. According to Publishers Weekly, in the first week of sales, BookShots sold over 30,000 copies. Not too shabby.

The first BookShots were written by James Patterson – CROSS KILL (an Alex Cross thriller) and ZOO 2. These will be followed up with many more by a host of different authors, all geared to get your pulse pounding. I just found out that there’s also a romance line called BookShots Flames. I happened to stumble upon a copy of The McCullagh Inn in Maine by Jen McLaughlin in a supermarket. Jen and I share an agent, so even though it’s a romance (woven within a suspense story), I had to pick it up and I’ll be damned if I didn’t read it in two sittings, just like Patterson promised. And I dug it. I also downloaded Zoo 2 on my Kindle, even though I never read Zoo or watched the TV show. I had to see what all the hubub was about. It was fast paced, campy fun. Those are two sweet spots for me.

Maine

I have to admit, I’m actually kind of excited about this. Anything that gets more people reading is a major win as far as I’m concerned. As an author, I prefer writing novellas. And I’m not alone. Most authors I talk to love novellas, both writing and reading them. There’s something about knowing there’s a limit but also having the space to explore characters deeper than you can in a short story or just go for broke and let the rollercoaster run free.

As a horror writer, I hope Patterson casts his gaze in the genre’s direction. Novellas have always been a huge part of horror. Even today there are great horror novellas being published weekly by the likes of Severed Press, Sinister Grin, Deadite and so many more. It would be nice to see them in print at the airport or supermarket or any bookstore you happen to find.Why do you think shows like Tales from the Crypt, The Twilight Zone, Tales from the Darkside and other half hour bites of terror were so successful? Because horror is best when it’s short, twisted and terrifying.

BookShots in print are a little wider than a mass market paperback. Kind of like a classic Goosebumps book. They feel so good in your hands. It’s book crack at its best.

I’m keeping a watchful eye on BookShots. Could it be a game changer? We can only hope. The success of BookShots means more readers and more good paying opportunities for writers.  Everybody’s happy, unless you’re Captain Beatty. (extra credit if you can name the book!)

And James Patterson, if you’re looking for a thriller writer who can send readers to dizzying heights within the warm confines of BookShots, give my agent a call. You already have her number.

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About Hunter Shea

Hunter Shea is the product of a misspent childhood watching scary movies, reading forbidden books and wishing Bigfoot would walk past his house. He doesn’t just write about the paranormal – he actively seeks out the things that scare the hell out of people and experiences them for himself. Hunter’s novels can even be found on display at the International Cryptozoology Museum. His video podcast, Monster Men, is one of the most watched horror podcasts in the world. You’ll also find him every week on the Final Guys podcast, available everywhere. He’s a bestselling author of over 25 books, all of them written with the express desire to quicken heartbeats and make spines tingle. Living with his wonderful family and two cats, he’s happy to be close enough to New York City to gobble down Gray’s Papaya hotdogs when the craving hits.

8 responses to “What the heck are BookShots”

  1. Max Zsol says :

    I love the idea of BookShots. I am fascinated by short format and how it relates to current culture (short attention span, etc). But I specially like the “rebranding” of the novella format. Very smart move.

    Also… “It’s book crack at its best.” How can you resist that?

  2. the happy writer says :

    I saw two Bookshots novellas at the checkout line in my grocery store yesterday! They are such a sweet little size, they really just call out to be brought home for an afternoon of reading abandon. I would LOVE to see horror stories offered this way, doubly so if they were horror stories by you!

    -aniko

  3. Ruth Zavitsanos says :

    I wrote a novella–would love for it to be a part of his BookShots. It’s getting great reviews because people love the satisfying story completed at one sitting!

    • Hunter Shea says :

      My agent worked out a deal for the romance line of Bookshots. Patterson is booked with projects for the next year or so and only taking proposals from agents. Best of luck!

  4. P Warlik says :

    Thank you Hunter for explaining “bookshots”. I thought it was a short story and I had to buy a second book to get the ending of the story. Now I know and I am okay with it. Someone should let Amazon staff know what they are. Asked three people and no one knew. One witch hung up on me because she didn’t know.

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