1. Dr. Mambo

    Dr. Mambo Contributing Member

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    What to do with a 40k-word story?

    Discussion in 'Marketing' started by Dr. Mambo, Jan 10, 2017.

    It's all in the title. I've got a horror story that's just under 41,000 words, I know any attempt to drastically shorten it will detract from its overall quality, and I also understand that by most definitions 40,000 words is the maximum length for a novella but 40k-50k is still too short to be a stand alone novel. True?

    How do I approach finding a market for this piece? I'd stash it for a collection to be released later in the game, but I consider it my best story and perhaps also my best route to being published.
     
  2. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    That is an awkward length.

    E-pubs tend to be more flexible in terms of length, but I don't know if there are any good e-pubs for horror...
     
  3. Dr. Mambo

    Dr. Mambo Contributing Member

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    I'm not aware of any that look for stories upwards of 20k words, at least not regularly.

    Does my situation improve if it's 50k instead of 40k?
     
  4. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    Can you add meaningful sub-plots or characterisation or twists to bring it up to 70k? Still a little low, but more in the right area...

    Otherwise, it's a very tricky length to sell so you'll probably have to self-publish.
     
  5. Lew

    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just published an 8k story on Amazon, came out 40 pages paperback. So you might want to consider that venue. I had the opposite ends of the problem, the short story was too long for a magazine, too short for a stand-alone. The other at 240K was too long for a first time author. The short one is up now, under my name Lewis McIntyre. The big one will be up when the cover is finished, expect late Jan, typeset at 550 pages just over 1 inch thick. So consider that approach. Both were trivially easy to set up, no assistance required.
     
  6. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    You said horror, but if it might also crossover in fantasy you could keep an eye on Tor.com. The have occasional submission windows for novellas.
     
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  7. NigeTheHat

    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    Specialist small press is probably your best bet. Someone like these guys:

    http://www.pspublishing.co.uk/

    They take novellas, which they define as between 30,000-80,000 words. Admittedly, they say they're shut for unsolicited submissions until the end of 2016 (so maybe still shut, maybe just not updated the website yet) - but it shows that places that'll publish novellas are out there.
     
  8. Dr. Mambo

    Dr. Mambo Contributing Member

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    I could bring it up to 45k without losing any quality, and maybe 50k in a pinch, but I'm afraid anything more drastic would completely ruin the pacing of the story, which is part of what (I think) makes it so good. I'm not opposed to self-publishing either, but I've more or less adopted the @BayView plan, which is to pursue traditional avenues first and work my way down. However, I also value total creative control, which is what really entices me about self publishing.

    I've had that issue with some shorts as well, but I'm a little surprised you had so much trouble with an 8k length story. In any case, I have looked into self-publishing on Amazon, but I'm not sold yet.


    This is the way I was figuring I'd have to go. I'm aware of a number of small-time presses, as well as a few websites, that take unsolicited horror novella submissions. What I'm unsure of is the value in getting a novella published by such a press if only 100 people are ever going to buy or read it.

    Anyway, I appreciate all the suggestions. Thanks, everybody.
     
  9. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll I tell you story, yes...:P Contributor

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    I have found quite a few horror stories that are good on amazon. :)
     
  10. Gawler

    Gawler Contributing Member

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    Focus on the quality not on the length. That is what the story will be judged on in the long run.
     
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  11. Lew

    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    The good thing about publishing on Amazon is that you are in total control of your content. The bad thing about publishing on Amazon is that you are totally responsible for your content!

    As to difficulty with other publishing routes, mostly it was due to apathy and ignorance... I didn't really try very hard with that story.
     
  12. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    If it's on Tor.com it'll be seen by way more than 100 people, but the competition is fierce there. They're one of the largest SFF publishers on the planet, if not the largest.
     
  13. G. Anderson

    G. Anderson Active Member

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    If you think it's a great story, then go for any market. I recently had the same situation myself, but I think most publisher care more about story and plot than word count anyway :)

    And as an avid reader, I've never thought much about word count or stories proper definitions :)
     
  14. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just for clarity - when you say "publishing on Amazon" you mean self-publishing, right?
     
  15. Dr. Mambo

    Dr. Mambo Contributing Member

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    Random self-published ones? Are you talking shorts, novellas, novels...? And do the authors usually make these available for free, or do you buy them blind just to give it a try?

    The one time I perused the self-published e-books/stories on Amazon I was kind of appalled by the lack of quality, but maybe I wasn't looking in the right place.

    Word count never entered my mind before I started reading threads on this site. I'm of the same mindset as you, for the most part. It'll be as long as it needs to be. However, I've also found some value in trying to shave a story down to meet a certain word count as it forces me to look at the story a different way. I really improved one of my shorts by trying (and failing) to bring it from 7700 to 7000 words. I settled for 7300, but it's much better than it was at 7700.
     
  16. Lew

    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Correct. Specifically, CreateSpace and Kindle Direct, both subsidiaries of Amazon. CS does paperbacks and KD Kindle. There is an interface between CS and KD to upload your paperback manuscript to Kindle. Was extremely pleased with how easy it was, no significant $$$ involved. Marketing is a challenge.
     
  17. Lew

    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    Check out "Come, Follow Me, a Novel of Pilate and Jesus" under Lewis McIntyre, and please give me a review.
     
  18. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll I tell you story, yes...:P Contributor

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    @Dr. Mambo Well a bit of everything in length, you just have to hunt for something that
    you find to your liking. It is really no different from going through a bookcase full of Horror
    Novels, and Short Story Compilations. Even if you find something that is of interest to you,
    it will still be a risk that it will not meet the expectations that it boasts. It is all a gamble
    that you have to decide if it is worth the read or not.

    @Lew way to plug. :p
    Wish I had the nerve to do the same.:)
     
  19. Dr. Mambo

    Dr. Mambo Contributing Member

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    Did you do any hard copies, and if so, how many and at what unit cost?

    I'll check it out. Not sure you want to ask for my review just yet though. I tend to be a harsh critic. ;)

    Want to recommend me one of the top 3 best horror stories you've found on Amazon and post a link?
     
  20. NigeTheHat

    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    That. I had so many grand plans for marketing mine, but I just never found the time to do it. Making the book was the fun part, when it came to making money there were just so many better ways to spend my time. Nice easy system to get everything live, though.

    As another data point - I did both hard copies and Kindle. The unit cost of each CreateSpace book is around £4.50 for me, IIRC - obviously it'll vary depending on page count, colour etc - but because it's POD they take that off the top of every sale. You don't have to pay anything upfront. It does mean you've got a minimum price, though - they won't let you set the price any lower than what they want to take from every book.
     
  21. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll I tell you story, yes...:P Contributor

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    @Dr. Mambo Though to be fair these are some that I enjoyed. You seem to have a demanding taste, that is hard to appease.
     
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  22. Lew

    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    The rule of thumb is that Amazon charges 40% of list price, plus production costs, based on page count, paper quality and distribution channels. Your breakeven point is production cost /60% or 1.66* production cost. Rule of thumb, add a dollar for yourself and you'll be close. Customer pays tax and shipping so you don't get involved in that. You can buy books and production cost for book signings and gifts, and sell at whatever you want. Nominally several bucks below Amazon.
     
  23. Dr. Mambo

    Dr. Mambo Contributing Member

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    So for a hard copy Amazon takes a 40% cut plus some for production? But Amazon will make the books for you? Clearly I'm missing something here, because I thought CreateSpace was its own thing and that I'd hypothetically be heading to the post office to mail books to people whenever I sold one.

    @NigeTheHat : So, basically once you commission a CS book, it's POD until... forever? Or can you cut the cord after a certain amount of time? Any sort of contract or publishing rights involved?

    @Lew : Can you expound upon the last part? I'm not following exactly what you mean about book signings and gifts and undercutting Amazon's price.

    @Cave Troll : Clive Barker is small time indie? Maybe I'm just thinking of a different author whose name is Clive. In any case, I'll take a look at those. Thanks for the recs!
     
  24. BayView

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think there's some confusion arising over using "Amazon" as a synonym for self-publishing.

    Just about every book currently in print (or e-print) is available on Amazon. Being on Amazon does not mean the book is self-published.

    And there are plenty of ways to self-publish that don't involve Amazon. It's definitely a major player, but there are others.
     
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  25. NigeTheHat

    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, it's just there. I think you can withdraw it from CreateSpace should you want to, but that wasn't something I was much bothered about so I didn't look into it.

    There's no contract and no formal assigning of publishing rights to CreateSpace. Obviously by publishing you will have then spent first publishing rights, so you won't be able to go to any publisher that requires them later.

    On a couple of other parts of your post:

    We're using Amazon and CreateSpace fairly interchangeably - technically CreateSpace is its own company, but it's wholly owned by Amazon. They'll print, bind and ship the books for you, you don't have to deal with any of that. You will need to arrange things like the book layout, the cover etc yourself. CS do offer that service, but last I checked you had to pay for it. I ended up doing my own layout, because I'm quite good at that, and paying someone for a cover, because I'm shit at design.

    And treading on @Lew's toes: as the author, you can always buy as many copies you like at CreateSpace's minimum price, whatever you've got the actual price set as. So the min price on my book is around £4.50 - so if I want, I can buy a load of copies at that price and then give them away, sell them for less at book signings and so on.
     
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