Launched in 2013, Novl is a community website that was set up to be a central location for the social media activities of authors at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. The website has been a success, and now the publisher is turning Novl into a digital imprint that will release short-form, low-priced content on a monthly basis.
Tina McIntyre, executive director of strategic planning and digital publisher for LBYR, is overseeing Novl, along with Pam Gruber, a LBYR senior editor. McIntrye said that after Novl was up and running, her teams started to see an influx of ideas pouring in from house authors, and editors who wanted to contribute content or publish something. This, she noted, is how the imprint, which officially launches this week, was born.
The goal of Novl, initially, was to have a single branded website where, McIntrye explained, “all of our teen properties and book projects could be centralized under one umbrella in the social media space.” To that end, Novl, which features content such as book trailers, author guest posts, and author playlists, has been overseen by LBYR’s associate manager of digital marketing and social media Jane Lee, who brings together Facebook, Tumblr, YouTube, and Twitter content posted by LBYR authors.
LBYR has been releasing the kind of short-form content Novl will specialize in: inexpensive, e-only novella and short-story-length titles tied to existing properties whose release is often timed to coincide with that of new full-length work. Some of it has already been branded as Novl content. But by establishing Novl as an imprint, McIntyre thinks LBYR can do more of this type of material. “We see an opportunity to actually expand our audience, while also being able to generate revenue.”
Novl, according to LBYR, has 13,000 followers across all social media platforms. And, in the second half of last year, the site had 268,000 content views. The Novl titles will range in length from 7,500 to 15,000 words and will be priced according to length, from 99¢ for short works up to $2.99 for longer titles.
According to LBYR marketing materials, the content will largely fit into one of a handful of types, including prequels and pieces told by characters in series whose points of view have not been explored; the stories will also usually “build upon a world” already created by an author.
Though Novl authors will be a mix of established names and emerging talent, the one common thread, McIntrye noted, is that they will all be active on social media.
The first release from Novl, publishing February 10, is Jennifer Rush’s Played: An Altered Saga Novella, which has a $1.99 price point. Reborn, Rush’s full-length novel in the Altered series, which features a Jason Bourne–like hero, was published last month. McIntyre cited Rush as an author who has had success with the type of content Novl will publish. In December 2013 LBYR released the $1.99 e-original Forged: An Altered Series Prequel, and it, McIntyre said, “did well right out of the gate” while also creating a “bump” for Rush’s full-length novel Altered, published in January 2013.
Gruber noted that the monthly release schedule Novl currently has will allow the house to dedicate its staff to promoting these works on the Novl website, and beyond. The content for Rush’s e-original, Gruber noted, will be coming from multiple sources; Gruber, as her editor, will be offering some behind-the-scenes information. Other staffers will be offering different types of content.
Though Novl’s content is not particularly new—or novel—Gruber and McIntrye believe the imprint is the first of its kind to be layered onto an existing social community. “We’re in the unique position,” McIntyre explained, “that the branding is already there.” To that end, Novl will be relying on some fan-generated content and input; the cover for its first title, for example, was voted on by Novl users.
The main thing for McIntyre and Gruber is to bring the authors to where the fans are. Gruber noted that Novl, which is geared heavily toward women, will be releasing content ideal for teens and older YA crossover readers, who are reading more on their phones (for the younger set) and e-readers (for the older crowd).