Publishers are loathe to publish novellas, feeling readers aren't interested. So, the question in simplest form: Short novels are not worth publishing.

They are a literary form in their own right and should be celebrated as such
  145 votes, 40.5%

They are viable as an ebook. (write-in)
  72 votes, 20.1%

Basically disagree
  47 votes, 13.1%

A good story is a good story be at an epic or a really funny fart joke. (write-in)
  45 votes, 12.6%

Some are good, but they are not value for money. I want a big, fat book.
  22 votes, 6.1%

They are viable for an ebook. (write-in)
  10 votes, 2.8%

Basically agree
  8 votes, 2.2%

It's more about the cost to produce than it is about readership or the form itself.
  8 votes, 2.2%

Novellas are ok for others, but not for me (write-in)
  1 vote, 0.3%

Poll added by: Cynan

Comments (showing 1-50 of 62) (62 new)

message 1: by Alex (new)

Alex Markman Novella is good for publishing in electronic format. A printed book must be at least 250 pages to attract a reader.

message 2: by A.F. (new)

A.F. Yes, short novels are a viable option for ebook publishers these days.

message 3: by Adriana (new)

Adriana Ryan Alex wrote: "Novella is good for publishing in electronic format. A printed book must be at least 250 pages to attract a reader."

I agree with Alex and A.F.

message 4: by Aaron (new)

Aaron Safronoff Well, looks like I'm just a plus one on this. It seems to me that the beauty of electronic media is that it opens up the ability for long and short form works, as well as experimental, without tons of up front financing.
I think that music has certainly benefited: my friends can basically experiment, throw it out to the world, find an audience, make adjustments, and grow and change as artists without the overhead.
So, yeah... novellas, go e.

message 5: by Al (new)

Al Riske Let's not forget The Great Gatsby was only 182 pages. Likewise Bright Lights, Big City. More recent examples include Shopgirls and Tinkers, which won a Pulitzer.

message 6: by Al (new)

Al Riske Oh, and how about Breakfast at Tiffany's?

message 7: by Al (new)

Al Riske The Old Man and the Sea.

message 8: by Cynan (new)

Cynan Jones Al wrote: "The Old Man and the Sea."

Of Mice and Men

message 9: by Carole (new)

Carole Mcentee-Taylor I personally prefer long books but I know people who are put off if it is too long. I think there is place for novellas as anything that encourages people to read is good! I also gather that ebooks are more popular if they are shorter.

message 10: by Donna (new)

Donna Brown It has to be priced appropriately but good fiction is good fiction. If I want a lengthy read, I'll buy a 500 page epic. If I want something short and sweet then a 90 page novella will tick the box.

message 11: by Duane (new)

Duane Poncy I agree that short novels are viable as ebooks. To be worth printing, I believe a novel needs to be 60,000 words minimum. At that short length, however, they have to be very, very good to sell.

message 12: by Elisabeth (new)

Elisabeth Nelson It's all about the story, long or short. The page count doesn't matter. If the story is good, it will sell.

message 13: by Gary (new)

Gary Dalkin Until the 1970's most popular fiction was published in cheap paperbacks of no more than 200 pages. Many genre novels were 130-160 pages. Then the trend went to longer books because the actual physical object of the book is only one small part of the cost of publishing, and readers felt they were getting better value for money paying, say £2 for a thick book than £1.75 for a thin one.

Electronic publishing should be able to revive the novella, and of course some publishers produce omnibus editions combining several short old novels into one thick volume. Odd to think what was once the norm is now considered a novella and too short for publication.

message 14: by D.T. (new)

D.T. Conklin I've no problem with Novellas. I think we'll see a resurgence with the easy ePublishing that's now available. Hooray for more to read!

message 15: by Edward (last edited Nov 29, 2011 10:26AM) (new)

Edward Medina A few years ago I took a trip back to Puerto Rico. Hadn't been there since I was a child. Stayed in Old San Juan, at an amazing little place called The Gallery Inn. It's owned by artist and sculptor Jan D'Esopo. Her work populates the 300yr old buildings that make up the beautiful and very intimate little resort. She also fills her rooms with books. I found The Old Man and the Sea in mine. It was much smaller then I remembered. I read it again that night. I sat in a chair by a window that faced the very same sea. When I finished I realized that it was as big a book as I had remembered... and it was in just the right size. A book, is a book, is a book. ;-)

message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

I love reading novellas! Sometimes, a good, short novella is better than a long novel.

message 17: by Bill (new)

Bill Interesting question, especially phrased this way -- I mean, readers and publishers might have differing interpretations of the word "worth" here. My own feeling is that the ebook market provides an ideal outlet for short-form stuff, particularly as conventional channels get more and more squeezed.

message 18: by Erica (new)

Erica Most big books are full of unnecessary fluff anyway. Some of the best books I've read could be considered novellas.

message 19: by Alison (new)

Alison Bruce Alexandra wrote: "I love reading novellas! Sometimes, a good, short novella is better than a long novel."

I agree. I'm for quality over quantity. eBooks are making the publication of shorter works easier, but print publishers are catching on to the trend. Orca Books' Rapid Read line is closer to novelette size and they are getting respected authors to write for them.

message 20: by Carol (new)

Carol Cassada I think the length of a novel doesn't matter, as long as it's a good story it deserves to be published whether in e-book or printed copy.

message 21: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Sissel As many have said, the length isn't what suggests the worthiness of being published. When the writing is engaging and compelling, it doesn't matter to me how many pages there are ... although when the story is really fine, I hate to see it end!

message 22: by Erica (new)

Erica Yes, when a story is really good, I do wish for more book! But I don't buy a large book because I feel like I'm getting my money's worth.

message 23: by C.E. (new)

C.E. I think ebooks are a wonderful opportunity for short novellas, especially for authors who are having a hard time finding a publisher. A good story is a good story.

message 24: by Greg (new)

Greg Curtis Hi,

Having published only one novella I may not be the most experienced inthis field, but I still believe that a good story outweighs other factors like length. Novellas may not sell well, but hopefully some will read them and find them worthwhile.


message 25: by A J (new)

A J Burton I have a novella and a full length novel as ebooks.

A series of novella's are viable as a printed book.

Generally speaking readers would prefer over 50,000 words I would think.

message 26: by Cynan (new)

Cynan Jones Erica wrote: "Most big books are full of unnecessary fluff anyway. Some of the best books I've read could be considered novellas."

I like it :-)

message 27: by David (new)

David Richards I write long and short books and I believe that my shorter works are just as good as anything I have written that is longer. However, I have had a review for one of my shorter books state that it could have been longer or more fleshed out, and that it was costly for a small paperback book. These were fair comments so I revised all my trade paperback prices through CreateSpace to be as low as they could be and refrained from publishing any more shorter works in trade paperbacks after that, publishing them only in Kindle instead.

So because of this I voted that they are a literary form in their own right, but I do also believe that they are more viable today as eBooks.

I have two books in trade paperbacks that come in at around 150 pages. Another, and my shortest book, is only available as an eBook but is probably the current favourite.

message 28: by A J (new)

A J Burton What do people think is the cut off point from novella to novel 25000? 50000?

message 29: by David (new)

David Richards My short works range from 34000 to 50000 words, giving rise to 6x9 trade paperback books in the range of 100 to 150 pages. I have known books published in mass market paperbacks with these page counts, so it basically boils down to the string question.

Just my opinion.

message 30: by A J (new)

A J Burton I am not sure of this but I think main stream publishers say 70,000 and over is a full length novel.

Not that it matters as when you finish your novel it's over no matter what the word count.

message 31: by David (new)

David Richards That's probably true, but I suppose it is kind of the author's decision. If they normally write 1000 page books then anything less than 300 pages would be a novella for them!

message 32: by A J (new)

A J Burton Like war and peace that's about 5 novels. My published novel is 97000 words and the one I am editing is 86000 and may go to 90,000 when Christine does her edit. Funny how both seemed to end at similar lengths.

message 33: by David (new)

David Richards I have one at 275000 words. It also says it is over a million characters. No wonder my fingers are sore!

One was twice that size and I had to split it into four books. Never intended to, but now that's the way they are.

I think the problem is writing on the computer. You never really appreciate how big the damn thing is until you try and print it out!

message 34: by Claire (new)

Claire Avery The first draft of my novel was 280,000 words. I cringe admitting that. It was a monster! My agent said no publisher will want it at that length from a new author, and he refused to shop it until it was down to 120K. And sure enough, my eventual editor wanted it to come in around 100,000 words. I've been told it's too risky to put a long "tree book" out from a debut novelist. My understanding is that the average full length debut novel, from a traditional publisher, tends to run around 100,000 words.

Cutting almost 2/3 of the manuscript was torturous. However, I now think that the manuscript had a lot of unnecessary verbiage and the cuts, painful as they were to make, improved the finished book immensely.

As far as novellas go, I believe that if the book is great literature, people will (hopefully) find it and purchase it in either form. I do think the market is even tougher for novellas than for novels, but a gifted author can make a novella just as compelling as those big, fat epics that I love.

message 35: by Judith (new)

Judith Marshall With epublishing being so easy now, I think novellas can have a new audience.

Judith Marshall
Author of "Husbands May Come and Go but Friends are Forever" optioned for the big screen.

message 36: by Karen (new)

Karen I like reading novellas a great deal--one of my favorite books is Stephen King's Different Seasons, which is four novellas in one book.

I can't write novellas or short stories and so admire those who can compact a good story in a short amount of space. I do think authors would behoove themselves to make it clear up front that an e-book is a novella (25,000 to 50,000 words) instead of a novel (should be at least 70,000 words--standard first novels in the publishing business run around 80,000 words). I've read several customer reviews on Amazon where the reader was upset because a book he or she thought was going to be a novel turned out to be a novella. Frustrating reader expectations creates bad word-of-mouth advertising and should be avoided at all costs.

message 37: by Jeff (new)

Jeff Otis One only needs to read Chekhov's novellas to answer this...

message 38: by A J (new)

A J Burton Karen wrote: "I like reading novellas a great deal--one of my favorite books is Stephen King's Different Seasons, which is four novellas in one book.

I can't write novellas or short stories and so admire thos..."

The only thing that annoys me about short stories is sometimes you are really getting into them when they end. Even a paragraph is fun to read if it is good though.

message 39: by Tom (new)

Tom Andry I think eBooks will bring back the novella. There is no reason, other than prejudice IMO, to dismiss them out of hand just because Publishers are afraid to try something new (old really).

message 40: by Todd (new)

Todd Tystad I've always believed that it's not the size of the package, it's what's inside that counts.

message 41: by Valerie (new)

Valerie Douglas Short novels are a great way for readers to experience your writing

message 42: by Wayne (new)

Wayne Zurl Rex Stout published numerous Nero Wolfe novellas and people loved them. Today it boils down to economics. It isn't profitable to put few pages between the same covers that house an epic. Publishers creed: It doesn't have to be good, it has to be marketable.

message 43: by Tim (new)

Tim Hodkinson eBooks are definitely providing a new lease of life for novellas (I've even sold a few in ebook format myself).
I believe a story has a certain length to it and if thats shorter than a novel but longer than a short story, then so bit it. Far too many novels have their stories "padded out" in my view unnecessarily to make them "novel length" rather than what length they would be naturally.
One of the greatest horror stories ever written (in my opinion) is a novella: Carmilla, by J S leFanu

message 44: by William (new)

William Weyr If a novel is too long (250,000 words) two things are at work-- or more precisely, not at work: the author and the editor. Countless people have commented on Clancy's books, i.e., The Hunt for Red October was scintillating and Red Storm Rising was good, but the rest suffer from a lack of editing. Unless you are a military tech geek the story gets lost in the novel. Novellas, on the other hand, are a challenging art form--more scope and deeper in character exploration than a short story, less breadth and depth than a novel. They tell the story with precision, emotion and economy. Novellas definitely have a platform and audience as an ebook. In our culture, size is not the determining factor; nor is value. Attention span of and pleasure for the audience are the drivers.

message 45: by W.D. (new)

W.D. If we are talking about big publishers, then yes, novellas are dead for genre fiction, but still have life in the literary genre. If we are adding small press, then this is false and there are many small presses that are putting out novellas and they are thriving. And this is with out getting into ebooks. I don't think readers are as much to blame as it is simply the cost effectiveness of novellas to be mass produced for the big publishers that want large runs to fill all book stores. It is cheaper for them to stuff more pages in them and add a few dollars to the price tag. Small press can't do those large runs, so the cost effectiveness for novellas are better than novels because there is less material costs in the smaller runs.

message 46: by Terra (new)

Terra Harmony Elisabeth wrote: "It's all about the story, long or short. The page count doesn't matter. If the story is good, it will sell."

I agree with Elisabeth. Thought I do think novellas should be priced a little less than full length novels.

message 47: by Sandra (new)

Sandra Almazan I wish this was multiple choice. Although I voted they're viable as e-books (which is why I chose to self-publish my novella), I think they're a literary form in their own right.

I thought of another famous novella to add to the list-Jonathan Livingston Seagull.

message 48: by Sascha (new)

Sascha Illyvich To publish a book in print it must make sense. Lots of erotica is published that's less than 250 pages, with a price point that works for the seller and a lot of readers. But in E-books we're talking about choices, giving a reader more choices to actually dig into an author rather than a wasted bit of time. The novella can be an introduction or if the author is really skilled with words, they can pack an exciting story in that 30-40k.

message 49: by Russell (last edited Dec 09, 2011 11:30AM) (new)

Russell Cruse I can't help but feel this preference for novels is a form of snobbery. Even worse, it's about "value for money" meaning that, for some, a great fat folio of lardy drivel is automatically better than a small, yet perfectly-formed, subtly-flavoured and exquisitely crafted piece of nouvelle cuisine.

message 50: by Russell (new)

Russell Cruse I have to add that I heartly disagree with the notion that a novella should be cheaper than a novel.

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