I’m not a big novella reader to begin with, so whether it’s a prequel or a mid-series addition, they aren’t at the top of my to-be-read pile. I have a habit of binge reading short stories—usually when I’m in a slump or just have too many of ’em that have accumulated on my eReader. But, when I DO read them, I’ve found that generally I enjoy prequels more if I tackle them after I’ve finished book 1. It’s rare that a novella succeeds in getting me excited about the next full-length installment; there’s just not enough story for me to become fully invested in the characters. I actually find that reading the prequel first can have the opposite effect—instead of psyching me up, I end up feeling confused. But, when I check them out after the fact, they can be a nice extra.
There are a few occasions where I’ve found that reading the prequel first actually makes a world of difference. Stacia Kane’s DOWNSIDE GHOSTS series immediately comes to mind; I strongly disliked the heroine when I finished UNHOLY GHOSTS, but after being urged by Jennifer (The Book Nympho) to give FINDING MAGIC a try, I developed a better understanding of Chess Putnam. If I’d read the prequel from the get-go, I probably wouldn’t have rated book 1 the way I did. On the flip side, I find that a lot of authors see novellas as a way to get a couple of extra bucks out of their readers by turning deleted chapters into bonus stories. I LOVE Kristen Callihan’s DARKEST LONDON series, but I’ll be honest with you, when I read EMBER I was like WTF is this? I couldn’t help but feel like it was a big waste of time because it didn’t add anything to the full-length books. ENTWINED on the other hand, was a great secondary character side story.
As a general rule I’m a nay when it comes to prequels but there are a few exceptions.