Write A Novella: Want To Write Short Fiction? (Novella Series 1)

Want to write a novella?

Many authors are uncertain about them; this is a shame, because novellas are a powerful tool in your publishing toolbox.

Questions I received included:

  • What’s the difference between a novel and novella?
  • How do I promote a novella?
  • Can I turn this short story into a novella?

All good questions. So, I think it’s worth writing a series of articles about novellas, especially at this time of the year, when you’re developing your self-publishing schedule.

What’s a novella?

Let’s start by defining what a novella is. In a nutshell, a novella is a work of short fiction.

Word counts are arbitrary; you can set your own. For what it’s worth, here’s how I estimate the word counts of various forms of fiction:

  • Short story: very short fiction up to 10,000 words;
  • Novella: short fiction from 10,000 to 40,000 words;
  • Novel: fiction from 40,000 words to… whatever. Your novel can be as long as you please.

Your mileage may vary. One author I know calls short fiction under 5,000 words a short story. For her, novella territory starts at 5,000 and goes up to 20,000. Anything above 20,000 is a novel.

You’re the author of what you write. You get to decide how long (or short) your fiction is, and what you call it.

All very well you might be thinking, but why write novellas? Is there a benefit to writing short fiction?

Why write a novella?

The primary benefit of novellas is that they’re short — authors find that they can write two or three novellas in the time it takes to write one novel. Today, when you need to be aware of Amazon’s algorithms, frequent publication is essential for many authors.

A writing colleague said that if he can charge $5.99 for novels and novellas, he makes more money if he writes novellas. If you write full time, writing a few novellas a year helps you to feed and clothe your children.

Some reasons to write novellas:

  • See above, they’re short. You can publish more fiction when you write novellas as well as novels;
  • They help you to gain experience. If you’re a beginning author, writing short fiction helps you to gain control of your stories. Writing a novella or two builds your confidence before you tackle a novel;
  • Testing genres (fiction categories.) If you’re wondering whether you could write fiction in genre X, write a novella and find out. I primarily use novellas to test markets, both for my own pen names, and fiction I ghostwrite for clients;
  • Easy marketing. Many authors kickoff a new series with a novella. They also “refresh” their various series of novels with a novella when a series has gone stale. (That is, when sales have slowed.)

By now, I’m sure you’re thinking… What about KDP Select and Pages Read?

What about KDP Select/ Kindle Unlimited? (Pages read)

When you enroll a book in KDP Select, your book is eligible for Kindle Unlimited, and you’ll be paid according to how many pages readers read. It follows then, that you’ll be paid less per publication for a novella than you will for a novel.

So, should you enroll your novellas in KDP Select?

Unfortunately, there’s no one-response-fits-all answer. Everything depends on your goals and strategy.

This is a big topic, so we’ll look at novellas and KDP Select in an article later in this series.

In the meantime, think about your publishing schedule for 2020. Would you benefit if you slotted short fiction into your schedule?

Read the next article in this series: developing characters for a novella

When you write a novella, you need to be aware of your characters. We look at how to satisfy readers with wonderful characters in our next article in this series. 

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How Long is...? Word Counts for Fiction


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