1. Norm
    Offline

    Norm Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Messages:
    226
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    Michigan

    Viability of Novella (another question regarding genre and word count)

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Norm, Oct 10, 2012.

    Obviously, the genre you are writing often determines the length of your piece. YA books tend to be shorter than their adult counterparts, and word counts vary by sub-genre as well.

    So, how viable is a short novel (novella?) in the world of publishing? My current project is at ~29k for the complete and edited first thirteen chapters. That's fine for now, but I am concerned that my finished product may not exceed 40k. Okay, so it is a YA story (16-25yo range) and the sub-genre is action comedy. Well, it's not a genre that lends itself to extensive word counts. I mean, it's short and to the point. It's composed of about 30% tension-building and 70% action - I really don't want to saturate the story with unneeded detail just to satisfy a word count.

    Okay, maybe it's not a novel. Is this still viable?
     
  2. thirdwind
    Offline

    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2008
    Messages:
    7,351
    Likes Received:
    2,891
    Location:
    Boston
    You'll have a hard time publishing a novella because there's not a big market for it. You're better off turning it into a novel or a short story.

    If you really want to publish the novella, you may want to consider publishers who publish novellas in an electronic format. You'll probably have a better chance that way since the manufacturing cost is somewhat justifiable.
     
  3. cazann34
    Offline

    cazann34 Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2012
    Messages:
    519
    Likes Received:
    41
    Location:
    Scotland, UK
    Does it? I've never heard that before. I'm writing fantasy for YA and I'm aiming for about 80,000 words. Am I wrong to?
     
  4. JamesOliv
    Offline

    JamesOliv Senior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2012
    Messages:
    174
    Likes Received:
    13
    Location:
    New York
    It depends on your preferred means of publication. If you are OK publishing through a reputable small press, I know of two or so that will not publish anything over 75-80k words.

    If your publisher is specifically trying to distribute via ebook, the 40k word area is pretty comfortable. Anything more can be an awfully bulky read for a kindle.

    I am presently farming a novella that is complete at 42k words. I am careful not to query publishers or agents who specify a minimum word count that I don't meet, but ultimately, I have had no problems finding places to send it. Having it published is a separate issue. But, there are publishers out there who are OK with that word count.

    You should use as many or as few words as are necessary to tell your story the way you want to tell it. If it caps out at 40k words, then find a home for it as is. Don't try to tack another 40k onto it just to meet a word minimum. It will read like you needlessly doubled your word count.
     
  5. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    novellas have little to no chance of being taken on by paying publishers... however, since your book is targeting the YA market, 40k may be ok, if it's suitable for the lower end of the age range...
     
  6. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,724
    Likes Received:
    4,821
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    It's possible to have success writing novellas if you take several and make a book of them. Stephen King sometimes does this (Different Seasons, for example), but he can get away with anything. But other writers, highly-regarded if lesser-known, do it too: Jim Harrison and William Gass are examples. And, in a different era, Joseph Conrad was a master of the form.

    If your novella fits into a genre well-supported by magazines (such as science fiction), you can try publishing there.
     
  7. Mikewritesfic
    Offline

    Mikewritesfic Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2010
    Messages:
    102
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Princeton, NJ
    E-publishing could be a good idea for a novella from what I have seen and heard. Do some research. It seems like some people who post on here are dead set against e-publishing and others are open to trying it. I'm not on either side but am curious to find out what it's all about
     
  8. Norm
    Offline

    Norm Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2010
    Messages:
    226
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    Michigan
    What kind of line would you guys draw between novel and novella in this case? I mean, it is aimed for YA and it is a fast-paced action story. Let's say it ends up being 40k words - which given my current pattern would result in ~130-150 printed pages depending on format...

    If it is e-published, does this affect the follow up stories (which are going to be more novel-sized) to be published in a traditional method? Perhaps it would be wise to finish the second part which is an actual novel and perhaps market them together as a main story and prequel instead of trying to push them separately... I really have no idea.
     
  9. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    If it is e-published, it will minimally affect traditional publication of your later books, unless the writing is particularly bad. Just don't mention it when you are querying or submitting later manuscripts, and don't refer back to the events in the e-published piece as a foundation in your submitted work.
     
  10. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    good advice from cog... my advice is to take it...
     
  11. JamesOliv
    Offline

    JamesOliv Senior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2012
    Messages:
    174
    Likes Received:
    13
    Location:
    New York
    My advice is that you not.

    The terms "ebook" and "self-published ebook" seem to be operating interchangeably in this thread. Let me clarify a thing or two.

    There are reputable ebook publishers out there who would consider a 40k word novella. They have processes in place, a marketing staff (and plan) and business relationships that a typical self-publisher simply will not have. I would go this route first. If you do this, there is no reason it cannot serve as a publishing credit down the road.

    If you are bent on self-publishing an ebook, then release it, hope for the best and chalk it up to a kindle direct experiment.
     
  12. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    exactly what part of cog's advice are you advising against, james?... all of it?

    and please say why...
     
  13. JamesOliv
    Offline

    JamesOliv Senior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2012
    Messages:
    174
    Likes Received:
    13
    Location:
    New York
    Cog advises that, if epublished, you should not mention it in a query for the future. If it is self published, then I would agree. If you publish through a reputable ebook publisher, I don't see why you would avoid mentioning it. It is a publication credit. It went through an editor. It is something that can help you.

    Cog mentions that such a publication likely wont hurt, "unless it is particularly bad." However, I'm not seeing a reference to self publishing in any prior post. So again, if you are self publishing, leave it off of future queries. If your ebook is being published by a publisher who specializes in ebooks, I disagree.
     
  14. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    There are essentially two kings of e-book publishing that make up nearly all of the e-book market. One is electronic republication of works already accepted and published by traditional publishers. That segment represents nearly all of the significant sales volume of e-books. The other is electronic self-publishing or electronic vanity publishing, both of which are characterized by acceptance of any manuscript whose author can pay the requisite fees (if any).

    That latter segment frequently encourages confusion with the former, because it makes the e-publishing vanity market (and those w profit from providing such services) look far more attractive and viavble than they really are.

    No publisher will be impressed by any publication "credits" that don't include being accepted by a traditional publisher's submissions process. And even attempting to impress them with such a "credit" is guaranteed to have exactly the opposite effect.
     
  15. JamesOliv
    Offline

    JamesOliv Senior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2012
    Messages:
    174
    Likes Received:
    13
    Location:
    New York
    I was not talking about vanity press. I was talking about small press epublishers that have an actual editorial process.

    Your usage of the term "traditional" publishing is what is perplexing me. There are newer publishers in the marketplace today who do not have a history of print publication. They are not vanity presses. But they publish primarily ebooks.

    I'm not sure where you got the idea that I was advocating the usage of vanity press in a query, but I was not. In reviewing previous posts, I think I made this point very clear. Your first sentence in your most recent post, in fact, bears a stunning resemblance to my "explanation" of ebook publisher v. Self publishing.

    I will re-state. If you self publish or publish through a vanity press, do not attempt to use it as a publishing credit. If you publish it through a reputable ebook publisher, it IS a valid publication credit.
     

Share This Page