How can you make the ebook novella boom work for you?

Illustration for article titled How can you make the ebook novella boom work for you?

When Jeff Noon made his long-awaited return to science fiction, it was with a novella called Channel Sk1n, rather than a full-length novel. And Noon says that the rise of ebook publishers made it possible for him to publish a book that might have seemed too slight in print form.

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Over at Forbes, Suw Charman-Anderson has an amazing two-article series about the rise of ebooks. She quotes Noon as saying, about the novella Channel Sk1n:

I know that publishers have always looked down a little on the novella. I don’t know why, because I love them, myself. So self-publishing allowed me to go with the flow and to let the story exist in its natural state. Nobody ever told me to make it longer. Maybe with some paper publishers that might well have been an issue.

Why publish a standalone novella, instead of just adding enough material to create a full-length novel? One reason that Charman-Anderson brings up is that you can publish shorter works more often, and raise your visibility. Another reason, which Noon mentions, is that this is a length that's closer to a good movie screenplay. Noon says:

I hadn’t written a novel for about ten years, so I wasn’t exactly in the ‘novelistic’ frame of mind. I’d been writing screenplays during that time, a much more succinct form. So a shorter work of fiction, just from a psychological point of view, seemed rather appealing. A way back in, if you like.

Charman-Anderson's two-part series, in which she also talks to Quercus Books' Jo Fletcher and author Isaac Marion, is well worth reading in its entirely. You can read her posts here and here.

DISCUSSION

SeleneGraceSilver
Selene Grace Silver

Lots of popular fiction writers in the romance and erotica genres seem to be making a living releasing novellas instead of novels (both indie-published and small house-published). Whole series are pitched as lunch hour reads. Digital books simply don't have the high cost of printing, binding and ground transportation to recoup, so shorter works, which sell for less, are still profitable.

As a writer, I've discovered that drafting and revising a novella for market is considerably faster and easier than a full-length novel. But, it's still a challenge.

From what I've read, many financially successful authors release a new title in as little as every 30-45 days. Sometimes, those individual titles are parts 1, 2, and 3 of a novel length work. Hard to do if one is also working a full-time career.

I have released the first in my series as a novella, but it's taking much longer (per chapter) to finish the second title of the series, which is only three times the length of the first.

Sigh...back to work...