Saturday, 1 February 2014

Shorter forms: how popular are novellas?

A recent article in The Telegraph suggests that novellas will gain in popularity thanks to the invention of e-readers. I hope this will prove to be the case.  I'm a big fan of shorter books - both as a reader and a writer.  Most of my fiction for children and teenagers is between 19,000 to 30,000 words and I have great respect for anyone who can sustain a story for 100,000 words.  However, I've read other articles that claim that readers much prefer to read longer novels, and indeed I have had this feedback myself from readers who have enjoyed my work but were disappointed it wasn't longer - which can be interpreted in both a positive and negative light.  I suppose my ideas just don't (so far) lend themselves to a longer form.  

One of the great aspects of indie publishing is not to be constrained by often prescriptive word lengths.  And the rebel in me has always rejected the idea that a short story/novella/novel/blockbuster SHOULD be a specific word count.  Why?  Who says? 

Shorter lengths definitely lend themselves well to the experience of reading on an e-reader.  So, what do writers and readers think?  Is less really more?  Or is bigger, better?

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  1. Happy Year of the Horse to you, Jane!
    My feeling is that novellas will certainly forge ahead in popularity - they could not be commercial when they had to be printed on paper, because production cost to sale price could not be justified, but on ereaders? Great! No issues :D
    I do like to sink my teeth into a big chunky novel, but equally well, when I'm short on time or busy (writing, as I should be now!), a novella is a great draw for me, as it will be a quick and uncomplicated read.
    So I think both are going to flourish, and I will certainly be writing both. For every one of my big novels, there are side stories I'd like to tell about minor characters, and now I can!
    What a great way also for a reader to try out a new author and see if they like the style well enough to invest time and money in that bigger book.

    1. Hi Deborah - thanks for stopping by and your thought provoking comments! I hadn't considered the production cost element of print novellas. The future will certainly be interesting...