I have given my novel to beta readers now. hurray! I'm also very pointedly not looking at it for a few weeks. I'm spending these weeks on other projects, including website design ... and writing short stories from the same world and setting.
The short stories will be freely available on the website. I plan to write a few stories developing minor characters from the novel. I also plan to explore other elements in the society that aren't really touched on heavily, in the novel. (Example, a short story centered around the role of religion.)
It occurs to me that I could make some big mistakes here - like I might inadvertently introduce spoilers to the novel, in the short stories. Ack!! Things that are reveals in the novel, should be protected from being discussed in the short stories. I will try to be hyperaware of this.
My question: What are the best guidelines for writing short stories to complement and engage readers on the internet for free, as a means of introducing the world and building a following? The goal is to attract people to buy and read the novel.
What are good features of the short stories, what should be avoided? Is it better to develop minor characters, introduce completely unrelated characters (for flavor, perhaps), or new elements that are 'taken for granted' in the novel (e.g. the role of religion or some other element.) As an internet surfer, if I stumbled across a website like the one I am building, I'd want to see several free short stories, not just one, and I'd want these to give me a survey of the world, and I'd want there to not be any spoilers in them. As the author, I am curious where my blind spots may be, and since many of you are experienced, I put it out to you - what other considerations should I be aware of?
A related question on SE:
(This is a good discussion from September which is more about using short stories as a means to develop a world. I'm not in need of that exactly, but would like to use short stories as one feature of an effective website.)