As a reader who thoroughly enjoys the settings of books, it should come as no surprise that I enjoy series that reside within a well-developed universe. Unfortunately, there are always those hanging subplots and events at the periphery of the main story that go undeveloped.
Today over at Terrible Minds, there’s a discussion about how writers can capitalize on those unexplored storylines, by writing short, possibly self-published, content to fill the gaps. This serves a number of interests for readers. It gives them content to enjoy between novels. It lets them learn more about minor characters they might really appreciate. Generally, it should keep readers excited about the universe.
This all sounds great, with one little issue for me personally as a reader. Most of this content will no doubt be published electronically, as that’s the most cost effective way for a single author to do so. I just really don’t enjoy electronic content for reading. In some cases, such as the Warhammer universes, this is mitigated by a multi-author arrangement allowing for print anthologies of short stories and novellas in a short time frame. I’m obviously a big fan of that.
If an author created enough of this side content, it seems reasonable that they could then compile it into an anthology of their own, to serve as easy access for readers who encounter their work later. One would hope they would consider a print edition of such a larger work to gain an even larger audience. *wink wink nudge nudge*
This hybrid system of novel-length work supported by shorter content really seems like the ideal framework for anyone writing within a universe. I will definitely keep it in mind as my writing continues. In fact, such an ideal of deep, enriching content within a universe was the root concept behind my open shared universe idea. I earnestly hope to make that a reality at some point, when time finally permits.