An E-Book For Every War

A bestselling thriller author and financial journalist is self-publishing a series of e-book novellas, each featuring the same two characters–Special Air Service member Alex Marden and Navy Seal Jack Rogan–dropped into a different war zone. The first title in the series, Black Ops: Libya, is available now for $2.99. Next up: Somalia and Iran.

The author of the books is 49-year-old Matt Lynn, who writes the bestselling Death Force series of military thrillers for Hodder Headline (a division of Hachette UK). He is also a columnist for Bloomberg News, and he describes his new series as “a cross between journalism and fiction.”

“Headline publishes my other work as e-books, so they control that. But I wanted to do this myself, so that it could be done quickly,” Lynn told me. He previously published one free short story, “Lethal Force,” on Kindle to promote his work. Each e-book in his new series will be around 20,000 words and they take him about two weeks to write. “I think of them as novellas, a bit like the old pulp fiction detective or sci-fi or western short stories,” he said. “Modern publishing doesn’t really have space for the novella, but I think it works really well on e-books. I’m interested in how writers can use e-books not just as a new a way of distributing their work, but to tell stories in a different way as well.”

Other bestselling authors have certainly experimented with instant e-books. Scribner just released Stephen King’s e-single “Mile 81,” and authors like Jodi Picoult and David Baldacci have published Kindle Singles. But Lynn’s project is notable because it’s an ongoing series and because the books are relatively long (20,000 words is about 80 printed pages).

“The idea is to write things that are really topical, to give the stories a sense of being told in real time,” Lynn said. I’m thinking about Somalia for the next one. But if there is a war in Iran next month, for example, I’ll knock out a story set there and publish it as it happens. There’s always a war or a revolution somewhere.”

Black Ops: Libya is on Amazon and Smashwords for $2.99.