1. SuperVenom
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    SuperVenom Contributing Member

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    Novel vs. novella: could the tide change?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by SuperVenom, Oct 23, 2012.

    Surffing through the threads here (usually in work as you do) I found that a few people have mentioned that novellas are now not as popular or commerical as a full Noval.I understand that this is because ppl don't want to buy a short book as it's finished with too early and takes up an annoying small amount of room on the shelf (please tell me if I'm misinformed). However with the introduction of electronic books do people here think that novellas might enjoy a comeback as people could download them cheaply as a quick read while on plane or at beach etc. and not worry about shelf space etc. since they are stored in memory or deleted. So I suppose the bones of my question is does electronic books effect publishers views on word counts?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Anything could happen, but I sure as hell wouldn't count on it.
     
  3. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    There's always a possibility, no matter how slim, that could happen. Realistically, the publishers don't want to deal with them because of the limited shelf space on stores, they want to put full sized novels in those slots.
     
  4. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I don't think demand has anything to do with why novellas are unpopular. For a publisher, the costs of printing a novella aren't justifiable. My numbers may be slightly off here, but printing a single page is fairly cheap (maybe a few cents). It's the cover that's expensive. So in terms of cost per page, a 300 page book is cheaper to print than a 150 page book. I only mention this because I've heard arguments in the past claiming that selling a 40k word novella at half the price of an 80k novel would be a great way to get people to buy novellas.

    I think e-publishing should help novellas gain popularity, though I suspect most novellas will be self-published.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Novellas are simply not profitable. The cost per book is not that much less than a full novel, but readers would rather get a thick book than a thin one for about the same price. They want to feel they are getting their money's worth.

    I don't see that changing anytime soon, if ever. I'd be more prone to believe that submission guidelines for new authors will trend toward higher word counts.
     
  6. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    That has happened, to an extent, but it is largely because people have either self published them or gone through independent, small publishers who sometimes focus exclusively on ebooks. They tend to be priced very low -- often 99 cents, sometimes free, but almost always for less than $4.00. So if this is where you feel your true calling is, you can certainly do it. Just don't expect to make much money or to get a contract through the traditional publishing route. (Also, you'd be either exclusively distributing electronically, or utilizing a print on demand mode, but mostly it would focus on e-books.)
     
  7. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that's probably too true for all too many readers. Personally I'm thoroughly sick of getting 500-page books that only have 100 pages worth of content and are in desperate need of editing. I apparently do form part of a market worth aiming for, because I find books I like, but I grant it seems to be a small market.
     
  8. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    I wish quality over quantity satisfied readers as much as it does diners.

    I'd rather pay $20 for 40k words that are a wonderful read, than pay $15 for 120k words of pure crap.

    As far as ebooks are concerned, I've bought a fair few novellas simply because I am an impatient reader and I prefer shorter stories than a long long long long winded tale of boredom... so hopefully ebooks, at the right price, will help the distribution of shorter texts.
     
  9. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    Actually, it's kind of the other way around on e-books. They lend themselves to larger word counts due to the format, and lack of having to take up physical space. One can write 150k novel (and be worthwhile-that goes without saying in this context) and it works just fine in e-books. However, the traditional publishing world is who sets the word counts for printed novels.

    As the above poster said, and myself in a different way, is the printed publishing world is faced with this business conundrum: Each Barnes and Noble (bear with me I'm just using one for an example) has let's say 30 foot of book cases with 3-4 shelves. For this statement, let's just stick with a easy number. One hundred books per row, with four per bookshelf (and we'll stick with one section as if in sci-fi to keep things basic). Ok, that makes space for 400 bucks. Out of the that space, let's say you have 40 Koontz, 30 King, 25 David Weber, 20 Patterson. Ok, now you've used up 115 slots for those 'big name' authors who'll move books. Out of the remaining 285 slots, you have your second tier writers who'll take up probably another 75..so you're just under 200 slots left. Out of those 200 slots, let's say there's only 5 publishing houses (keeping it simple here bear with me), which leaves only 40 slots per house.

    So, if you're one of their leading editors, marketing and sales heads, you have 40 slots you can fill-and you've still got your third tier writers to fit into there too. So, let's say you've got 20 slots left. Are you going to waste one of those precious spaces for a tiny novella, or a full-sized novel? It's a simple business decision: a novel.

    The amount of products on a bookstore's shelves, and their arrangement, is no different from your local grocery store where products end up at certain places because they pay more. Publishers do the same. An author's books don't end up on the spinner on the main drag of your B&N by accident. The publisher's paid B&N for that spot.

    These are things to consider in your thought patterns-and this isn't just Kate speaking. This is just how business works whether it's books, food or even collegiate and professional sports.
     
  10. JamesOliv
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    JamesOliv Senior Member

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    I don't see it shifting for paper.

    But epubs are already shifting in that direction. I find more epublishers listing word maximums (the last one I found indicated they were not interested in anything over 75k words).

    Ebooks are a different market. And quite frankly, the difference between 200 and 500 pages isn't as evident in an ebook as it is when they sit on your physical bookshelf.
     
  11. Motley
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    Motley Active Member

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    Short stories and novellas are definitely the way to go if you are targeting e-publishing, especially self-publishing. I don't think novellas will ever make it big in print. Print books in general are becoming less popular unfortunately.
     

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