Recently there’s been some chatter about novellas. For a long time, novellas were shunned by all but literary publishers. Too short, it seemed, translated into too little interest by readers. Of course, there was the biggest problem: novellas were not terribly economical to print. That impacts the bottom line, and that means more pushback from publishers.
The trend has been increasing judging by what I’ve been hearing from agents and publishers alike. They want longer books (fiction and nonfiction), and the 50,000 word minimum is being held to more strongly than ever before. This makes sense in a time when publishers are trying to trim every penny to enhance their waning profits.
But organizations that have been keeping tabs on self-publishing are questioning this wisdom. They note that when publishers do take on novellas, they are marketing them as novels so as not to undermine the work in readers’ eyes. Also, they’ve noted that genre works are seeing success as novellas.
This is in part due to self-publishing successes. Authors write what they write…they honor the story itself without having to worry much about lengths and economies of scale if they are self-publishing. Readers are interested in the story, not whether it’s long or short, or which publisher it might have come from.
Novellas, then, might find that they will receive a greater amount of respect from traditional publishers in the future. This will take a year or more to sink in, though. For now, consider your length when approaching traditional publishers. Aim for that 50K minimum to ensure you aren’t rejected on length alone.