Long form shorts / novelettes?


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Thread: Long form shorts / novelettes?

  1. #1

    Long form shorts / novelettes?

    If this is the wrong place for this, I apologize.

    When I write "short" stories, they tend to range in the 7000-20,000 word count range. Basically, edging out of short story territory and into the novelette space. I don't feel like these are bloated short stories, or anemic novels. It's just that this is the length the stories need to be.

    But I'm curious... what is the market for stories of this length? Currently, self publishing to an ebook format is a pretty obvious route (and I have gone that route with a few), but I'm wondering more about so-called traditional forms of publishing. Who, if anyone, buys manuscripts of these lengths? (If it matters, my shorts are mainly in the science fiction / fantasy genres.)

  2. #2
    There isn't a huge market, unfortunately. It's just not the raison d'etre for short stories.

    The reason why most short stories that sell tend to be within the 5,000 word or less region (in fairness, SF tends to run a little longer, perhaps up to 7,000...) is because that's about the limit of how long most people are willing or able to read within a single-sitting.

    Anything much longer than that, and you're probably talking about multiple reading sessions, so multiple days. You then start blurring into novel territory. Once that happens, rather than your work necessarily being perceived as a 'long short story' it becomes a 'short novel'. As Stephen King puts it, you run the risk of entering a 'literary banana republic'.

    It's the same problem as with any consumer product involving scale: Imagine a snack food that came in entree-size portions: Imagine a dinner-size candy bar, or a banquet of carrot sticks and hummus, or three courses of donuts. Or, imagine a snack-sized pot roast or a bitesized steak. Imagine flip flops that were designed with the intention of being worn to a formal event. Imagine a pick up truck with a two foot bed. Imagine a hot air balloon with racing stripes or a sausage dog trained for guard duty. Whenever the design of the product seems to run contrary to the purpose of the product, that tends to be a problem. In this case, you want somebody to read your work as a short story but with a commitment level that is closer to what would normally be expected for a novel.

    It's not that these things are impossible or even unappealing to everybody (I'm partial to a few donut dinners myself) but just that the culture we live in shapes reader expectations, which in turn shapes the market.

    I generally agree that the correct length of a story is whatever the author feels necessary, however it helps to be realistic sometimes. I submitted to probably about 100-some calls last year and every single one of them had a 'hard' word count. I can only remember 2 of those that allowed stories over 7,000 words and the vast majority was 5,000 or below.

    So yeah...a 15,000 word 'short story' is a tough sell as a short story. On the other hand, there are other options for novelettes and novellas. Consider combining multiple novelettes into a full novel (a 'fix up') or seeing if you can expand on them to broaden the story. Or hold out for somewhere that will take them (there are a few places). Or just self-publish.

  3. #3
    Right now my main staple of not-so-short shorts all exist in the same world. There's even some character crossover. So I've even thought along the lines of an anthology.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by InTheThirdPerson View Post
    When I write "short" stories, they tend to range in the 7000-20,000 word count range. Basically, edging out of short story territory and into the novelette space. I don't feel like these are bloated short stories, or anemic novels. It's just that this is the length the stories need to be.
    Well then you're not writing short stores; you're writing novelettes/novellas.

    The market for a short story is maximum 10,000 words, and even then you can only get away with that if you're an established author. Us mere peasants won't be given the same courtesy. The accepted standard is 7,500 words and no more.

    The market for novelettes is larger than people think. There is a demand for high-quality work between 7,500 to 17,500 words. The problem is, that demand is very niche in terms of genre. Most novelettes tend to be written for the romance market.

    A novella, on the other hand, may be the best route to go down. It's certainly the most forgiving of the three.
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  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by InTheThirdPerson View Post
    Right now my main staple of not-so-short shorts all exist in the same world. There's even some character crossover. So I've even thought along the lines of an anthology.
    Not fo nitpick but I think you may mean a collection rather than an anthology?

    An anthology is a book of multiple stories written by different authors, a collection is multiple stories written by one author. The main reason I mention it is because collections are really hard to sell in the traditional space for authors without name recognition. It just is.

    Iím not saying donít do it, but that would be a better fit for self publishing. If you really want to traditionally publish multiple stories in a shared universe under your own name I would look into a fix up - try to combine them into a single work through a frame narrative so itís a single novel with multiple ďnovels within a novelĒ.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Sam View Post
    Well then you're not writing short stores; you're writing novelettes/novellas.
    Thus why I titled this thread the way I did.



    Quote Originally Posted by luckyscars View Post
    Not fo nitpick but I think you may mean a collection rather than an anthology?
    Ah yes. Collection.

    I’m not saying don’t do it, but that would be a better fit for self publishing. If you really want to traditionally publish multiple stories in a shared universe under your own name I would look into a fix up - try to combine them into a single work through a frame narrative so it’s a single novel with multiple “novels within a novel”.
    I may wind up going this route -- a longer combined narrative for these initial stories. As is, these individual stories are likely to build into the culmination of something larger. At least the hints of a larger story for all of these characters are starting to tickle my brain, so we'll see where it goes.

  7. #7
    There is a much smaller market for very long stories/novelettes but that doesn't mean there is no market for them. I'd go on The Submission Grinder or Duotrope.com, key in your variables, then see what comes up.

    If you are going to group them into a collection, it helps to have some of the stories published elsewhere first. Publishers often want to see this. (Disclaimer: I'm assuming here that it works the same for longer stories/novelettes). Or, if you self-publish, the stories published in periodicals etc. can serve as little "ads" for your book, in a way.

    My collection did better than I expected for a SP book of short stories and I think it's because all the stories were first published elsewhere, in various places.

    Good luck with it.
    Last edited by Ma'am; January 22nd, 2020 at 08:04 PM.











  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by InTheThirdPerson View Post
    If this is the wrong place for this, I apologize.

    When I write "short" stories, they tend to range in the 7000-20,000 word count range. Basically, edging out of short story territory and into the novelette space. I don't feel like these are bloated short stories, or anemic novels. It's just that this is the length the stories need to be.

    But I'm curious... what is the market for stories of this length? Currently, self publishing to an ebook format is a pretty obvious route (and I have gone that route with a few), but I'm wondering more about so-called traditional forms of publishing. Who, if anyone, buys manuscripts of these lengths? (If it matters, my shorts are mainly in the science fiction / fantasy genres.)

    The beauty of eBooks is that they can be any length you want. I have bought short stories, and comprehensive texts. One time I downloaded a free chapter that the author had posted just to see if there was enough interest in it to write the whole book.

    But I have to admit that one of the stories I purchased bugged me because the author did not label it as a short story. I thought I was getting a whole book, paid book price, but got a short story. Be sure to make the reader aware of what they are buying if you publish stand-alone shorts.



    The SCci-Fi association uses these definitions to describe a work by its length:

    • Short fiction: under 7,500 words
    • Novelette: 7,500-17,500 words
    • Novella: 17,500-40,000 words
    • Novel: 40,000 words and up

    Shorter stories use different techniques, and have different kinds of subjects, so the Short Mystery Fiction Society subdivides the shortest categories further for their Derringer Awards:


    • Flash story: up to 1000 words
    • Short short story: 1001 - 4000 words
    • Long short story: 4001-8000 words
    • Novelette: 8001-17,500 words

    http://daringnovelist.blogspot.com/2...-and-word.html

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Sam View Post
    The market for novelettes is larger than people think. There is a demand for high-quality work between 7,500 to 17,500 words. The problem is, that demand is very niche in terms of genre. Most novelettes tend to be written for the romance market.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ma'am View Post
    There is a much smaller market for very long stories/novelettes but that doesn't mean there is no market for them. I'd go on The Submission Grinder or Duotrope.com, key in your variables, then see what comes up.

    I just searched 'novelette' (all genres) on SG and there were 585 results. That compares to 1339 for short story, 439 for novella, and 277 for novel.

    Well now, based on those numbers, it appears that novelettes are actually quite popular!

    But then I noticed almost all the outlets listed for novelettes were also listed for short story, and often for flash as well. When I pulled up the actual info, it turns out an awful lot of them were merely accepting of short stories that were slightly above Submission Grinder's word count definitions. Submission Grinder recognizes anything above 7,500 words as a 'novelette' so the places that were ostensibly publishing novelettes were really publishing stories up to, say, 8,000 words, which isn't really a novelette in any meaningful sense. Additionally, the listings made it very clear these were short story publications.

    Bloodbond publishes short stories, poems, art, and articles, reviews, and interviews, all related to vampires, werewolves, and shapeshifters.
    I did find a handful of novelette/novella publishers, but it was back to the niche.

    Approaching Footsteps: Four Novellas by Women: This spring, we will be considering submissions of unpublished, suspenseful literary novellas by women writers.
    So, I would say it's definitely true there is a market for novelettes, it's just so very niche. Not to mention it is (presumably) so very oversubscribed by legions of writers possessing unsold novelettes they are desperate to do something with, that it certainly feels like there is no real market for many of us. The only novelettes I have ever seen have been of the lower-end side of romance, and erotica.

    Of the three stories I ended 2019 without a home for, they were all over 5,000 words. They might have also been not-so-good stories, but I did struggle to find places I could even submit them to. So, personally, I won't be doing that again.

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