Not a novelist

I think referring to myself as a “novella-ist” might be a more accurate way to describe myself. With the exception of my first YA novel (By the Sword), my other two books have ended up at novella length, even after much editing and “beefing up” of the plot line. I don’t know what it is, but writing tighter with fewer characters just works better for me.

I do envy the novelists, of course. But I don’t really think that is what I am. Perhaps one day I will write a 500 page novel to call my own, but right now, if my books turn out to be shorter than average, then why be concerned?

My opinion is that a writer has a story to tell. Period. Word count is irrelevant so long as the story and its characters are of excellent quality.

So, are any of you chronic novella writers? Do you know of any publishers that do accept novellas? I am curious.

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16 thoughts on “Not a novelist

  1. Many years ago, someone read a 50,000 word manuscript of mine and said, “It’s great, but it’s not a novel, and you’ll never sell it until you add 40,000 words.”

    That ingrained the idea in my head that if I wanted to sell my work to New York, it had to be 90,000 words, give or take — that there was no way something in the 50,000 or 60,000 word range would ever sell.

    Of course, in the years that followed, several of my friends sold what were essentially novellas to New York, and I realized I had a wasted a lot of time trying to find ways to add “layers” to my work to reach an arbitrary word count.

    These days, especially with self-publishing being what it is, I encourage everyone who writes to simply tell the story the way it needs to be told. If 10,000 words does the trick, that’s great. 90,000 words? Also great. 150,000 words? If you’re certain they’re all really needed and there’s no fat to be cut, then that’s great, too.

    The thing I hate the most when I read manuscripts is when I start wading through obvious padding that’s only there to increase the word count. Just tell the story the way it needs to be told, and tell it as well as you can, and everything else will fall into place eventually.

    Just my 2 cents…

    1. Yes, so true about the obvious padding in novels. You’re right – your book should be what you need it to be – no more, no less. Some people are amazing at writing longer works and that’s great.

      Thanks for the 2 cents!

  2. Hi, Sara. If you can say everything you need to say in a novella, you have done your job, Many readers prefer reading novellas; full-length novels bore them to tears. Write two or three novellas connected by a common theme or character and then publish them as a collection or series. And please, for your sake, publish independently, or even exclusively as eBooks for the Kindle. With the economy the way it is today, chasing the “Traditional” publishers or their agents is a waste of your time and money. Way too few real people can afford to buy paperbacks nowadays, and that will not change for some time.

    1. True words, Gary. I did the agent seeking thing for two years and it was a lot of wasted time and energy. It took about two years before an agent finally told me why everyone else wouldn’t accept my book. Self-publishing allows you to write as an art rather than writing as a business. I don’t think I could deal all that well with deadlines anyway. Also, good point about the economy, too. Ebooks are where it’s at for indie writers.

  3. There are so many successful novella writers on the KB boards. They bundle a few novellas of the same theme together and they sell very well.The publishing industry is fixated on word count. One of the nicest things about self-publishing is that you don’t have to worry about it anymore. Use only the necessary words to tell your story. Can’t wait to read them 🙂

    1. Thanks, Lauren. I am happy to know that there are some successful novella writers out there. I think it’s a great idea to sell them together. Thanks – I hope to send Followed soon!

  4. Write what is in your heart to write –whatever genre, length, style it may be. If you change that, you won’t love it. And why be a writer if you can’t love it? Right?!

    Besides, lots of awesome famous works of fiction are novella length. 🙂

      1. Awwwww, thanks honey 🙂

        *whispers* I have heard from a couple of publishers that nowadays they’re looking for slightly shorter books anyway…people don’t have time to read HUGE tomes 😉

        Xx

  5. If your story has a beginning, a middle , and an end, your are a successful writer. The rest, in my opinion comes down to packaging. Can several be combined into one story? Most of the great books If read recently were in the 325-350 page category. Go sell the story, not the length.

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