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Publishing Novellas

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  #1  
Old 02-01-2013, 12:53 PM
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Default Publishing Novellas


Simple question: is this viable?

I've always heard that novellas (i.e. stories ranging from around 15,000-40,000 words) are unpublishable, because they're too long for magazines and too short for publishers to bother printing up.

Is this still true?

Personally, I think there should be more novellas around. Rather than the worst of both, as publishers and editors seem to think, I find they're the best of both: you can flesh out your ideas more than a short story, which tends to have underdeveloped characters and concepts, yet it avoids becoming diluted or bloated by the necessity to stretch a simple story into novel length.

It's kind of silly to think that a story that takes under 5,000 words is fine, and a story that takes over 50,000 words is fine, but anything in between should be mangled to fit into one of those two categories.

So I'm wondering if anyone knows of any outlets for the novella?
There must be publishers out there willing to fill the niche, but Google doesn't turn up many. The ones I do find are fairly obscure e-zines who seem mostly interested in melodramatic tales of getting old and such.


Last edited by Emerald; 02-01-2013 at 12:58 PM..
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Old 02-01-2013, 01:17 PM
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Publish it yourself. Get it out there. Don't mangle a decent story to fit any one place.
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Old 02-01-2013, 02:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Devon View Post
Publish it yourself. Get it out there. Don't mangle a decent story to fit any one place.
It seems like any publishing-related question could be answered with that :P

I don't mean to denigrate self-publishing. It's a perfectly valid option.
It's just, personally I don't really consider it a "success" unless I've made it through all the checks and balances of the publishing process. Otherwise it's like taking a message stuffed inside a bottle, and throwing it into a sea made of bottles with messages stuffed inside them. It doesn't really strike me as an accomplishment.

Maybe I'm just a snob, but I think "I wrote a story which was published by such-and-such" sounds more impressive than "I wrote a story which I put on the Internet." The former would have me thinking "gosh, this is a serious writer I'm talking to!" while the latter just makes me think "well, I bet you did. Good for you!"

I mean, there's plenty of self-published novels which are brilliant. But unfortunately that only accounts for about 0.5% of self-published novels...
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Old 02-01-2013, 05:36 PM
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It doesn't really strike me as an accomplishment.
Erm . . . most people can't even make it past the editing stage, much less learn how to create decent covers, format, and market themselves. A writer who has the guts to go out and do all of this . . . isn't an accomplishment? That's sad. Really sad. No one really has a clue how much work goes into indie publishing until they actually go through it. I'd say reaching the finish line in all of that -- and turning out a decent, well-written novel -- is a pretty excellent accomplishment. Much more so than smacking one's head against the wall and going to one's grave saying, "If only I'd . . ." Pfft. Sorry, but to **** with that.

I mean, there's plenty of self-published novels which are brilliant. But unfortunately that only accounts for about 0.5% of self-published novels...
I dunno. *shrug* I've read some really good indie pubbed stuff out there.
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Old 02-01-2013, 05:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Devon View Post
No one really has a clue how much work goes into indie publishing until they actually go through it. I'd say reaching the finish line in all of that -- and turning out a decent, well-written novel -- is a pretty excellent accomplishment.
You're probably right. Like I said, I'm not saying self-publishing is easy or beneath me or not something to be proud of. It's just personally, in my own neurotic sort of way, I need the approval of so-called professionals before I feel satisfied in my work. I guess that is kinda sad.

But if I self-published, I'd never be able to shake the feeling that I was just being self-indulgent and egotistical (as I am inclined to do). At least with traditional publishing I can be secure in the knowledge that somebody knowledgeable thinks my work is worth the effort.

Again, that's just my twisted logic. I don't mean to imply that self-published authors are inherently egotistical. If I had more confidence as a writer I'd probably self-publish all my stuff; it seems like the way of the 21st century.
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Old 02-01-2013, 06:31 PM
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Novellas are a niche. There are publishers that publish them (like mine) but yeah, it's a tiny niche.
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Old 02-02-2013, 12:07 AM
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Hardly a "niche". Any more than short stories are a "niche".

And in fact, the contemporary publishing model veers very heavily towards this kind of link. There is a huge number of titles recently in the 10,000 to 40,000 wd range. eBooks encourage this kind of length and readers in many genres prefer it.
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Old 02-02-2013, 12:10 AM
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Needing the validation of "somebody else liked this" is pretty egotistical. One might even call it "vanity"... an interesting word when applied to publishing.

One way writers have gotten around the length ghetto (Which, by the way is an effect of printing economics, with no real rationale artistically) by doing 3 novella "album" books.
But with ebook publishng, that is no longer problem.
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Old 02-02-2013, 12:22 AM
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Originally Posted by Lin View Post
And in fact, the contemporary publishing model veers very heavily towards this kind of link.
Huh, that's not the impression I got from all the blogs and magazines, but it does make sense that the rise of e-books would make the novella more viable. Thanks for the advice, it's encouraging.

As for egotism... We're in the business of writing down whatever we feel like and expecting people to pay money for it. You expect humility?
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Old 02-02-2013, 01:42 AM
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Novellas are big business, especially in romance/erotica/YA. I get paid a good flat rate as far as editing goes (working for an advance-paying publisher etc). Competition is high, however. I work submission reviews too and the amount of submission we get sent through is staggering, the quality of authorship, stunning.
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Old 02-02-2013, 01:52 AM
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I can be secure in the knowledge that somebody knowledgeable thinks my work is worth the effort.
What about the readers? Don't you think they know what they like and what they don't? Publishers, agents, editors . . . they're all subjective. Readers are, too, yes. But the former three dangle some "key" in front of you, taunting. Pfft. Just let the readers decide for themselves. If it doesn't fly, take it back and revise. It's what you would have sent to publishers, agents, and editors anyway; they're your first readers.

Nothing's ever really set in stone. Unless, of course, the name of your book is "Set in Stone." But, really . . . you can always update/revise with and "second edition."

Again, that's just my twisted logic.
*gently untwists Emerald's logic* There . . . ahh . . .

We're in the business of writing down whatever we feel like and expecting people to pay money for it.
Offer it up for free initially, then. Or for free entirely. Or for 99 cents. *shrug* And writing down whatever you feel like . . . Yay! I can finally publish that book I've been writing: "Ten Thousand Pointless Things to do with Lint." Hurray! Lol. If people like what they read, they'll pay to see the rest. You have to be fair to them, though, and give them a good sample of the work, and then be consistent throughout the piece with the quality, otherwise they'll feel cheated in the end and won't recommend you to anyone, nor buy anything else.
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Last edited by Devon; 02-02-2013 at 01:58 AM..
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Old 02-02-2013, 10:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Devon View Post
What about the readers?
In a world where Fifty Shades of Grey is one of the best-selling books of all time, I'm pretty cynical when it comes to judging the merit of your work by sales or readership. I mean, having a large fanbase is cool, but is not inherently indicative of quality. At least, not something I associate with the concept.

Besides, it has always been a dream/ambition of mine to walk into a local book store and see my own book on the shelves. It just doesn't seem like you'd get that kind of catharsis through self-publishing.
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Old 02-02-2013, 11:54 AM
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Well, you need to choose the path you want to take. Best of luck to you with that. And boy, does that sound sarcastic. LOL! I really do mean it, though. You want to pursue a chance at trad, go for it. There are many places you can search for through Duotrope (though I think they charge now) and Preditors and Editors.
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Old 02-02-2013, 01:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Emerald View Post

Besides, it has always been a dream/ambition of mine to walk into a local book store and see my own book on the shelves. It just doesn't seem like you'd get that kind of catharsis through self-publishing.
You can still do that if you self publish. Just get a friend to sneak a few copies into a bokstore, kind of a reverse shoplift, and then have a walk around a few days later and act all surprised when you spot your novella. You never know, the store might even ask you to sign a few copies.
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Old 02-02-2013, 01:25 PM
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kind of a reverse shoplift
Hahahahaha! I wonder if one could do that. You'd never see the profits from it, though.
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Old 02-02-2013, 01:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Emerald View Post
Huh, that's not the impression I got from all the blogs and magazines,
This tells you something. Most of these people are blogging because they can't sell anything.
The magazines are flagrant and notorious for knowing dick about the real indie publishing world. How much of their income comes from vanity mills?
How much of it is written by people who've never sold anything, just drawn salaries from magazine corporations.

if you read it in Writers Digest, it's probably a crock of shit.

Scan the MARKETS, no the "experts" with zero experience. Try this--google the keywords duotrope and novella
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Old 02-02-2013, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Emerald View Post
Huh, that's not the impression I got from all the blogs and magazines, but it does make sense that the rise of e-books would make the novella more viable. Thanks for the advice, it's encouraging.

As for egotism... We're in the business of writing down whatever we feel like and expecting people to pay money for it. You expect humility?
I like novellas a lot, reading them and writing them. As long as my publisher wants them from me, I'll happily keep on going.
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Old 02-07-2013, 01:10 PM
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I think the return of "the serial" is long overdue. With self-publishing, it's even easier than ever before.

Publish a bunch at once on Kindle, make the first one free, and promote how you'll be keeping the series up to date (monthly, quarterly, whatever).

I keep wanting to dedicate myself to writing a serial, but my day job makes a commitment difficult.

Anyway... your mileage may vary
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