World, Writing, Wealth discussion

18 views
All Things Writing & Publishing > shorts vs. novels

Comments Showing 1-29 of 29 (29 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Alex (last edited Jun 18, 2016 10:27AM) (new)

Alex (asato) Came up w/some interesting calculations.

my assumption: full-length novel works pull in the money more than shorts.

at the going rate of $.06/word for SF&F shorts and let's say it takes you a month to write one if you have a f/t job, then that's $450/7500w-short-story. reprint rates are typically $0.01w, but the rights clause seems to be about a 6-mo-exclusivity contract. so you wouldn't be able to get your $75 recurring unit revenue until that time and then you have to take the time to submit to those other markets.

let's say you have your book at $3.99, then you get about $2.67 at the amazon 70%-royalty rate. so, to hit $450, then you need to sell 165.5 units.

but wait, i just said that a novel brings in more money than a short. i did really mean it. it wasn't a straw man. but, now it seems that there's a break-even point b/w a novel and a short.

but hey, wait a sec. there's another market for shorts, patreon.com. N K Jemisin--a very well-known and award-winning SF&F author--just started her patreon system a few weeks ago and in aggregate fans are willing to pay her $4,745/mo to provide them w/a draft chapter or short story and a Q&A video.

the fans of Kameron Hurley--another well-known and award-winning SF&F author (who has had her patreon system up for longer than Jemisin)--are willing to pay her $6,474 ($2,158/mo*3) every 3 months for a novellete (8-12k words), videos, and a whole slew of other extra add-ons (much of which would hold value for fans).

so now, at $6,474/novella, to make the same amount for a novel, you'd need to sell 2,424 units; for $4,745/short story, you'd need to sell 1,777 copies of a novel.

well, i kind of went off on a tangent there, but i did some interesting calculations and come up w/some interesting results.

in summary, the market for shorts--in SF&F particular, which is were my writing interests lie (it could be different for other genres; romance comes to mind)--seems like it could be on par w/novel sales in the hundreds to low thousands. bear in mind that my 2 patreon examples are the more successful ones.

(for my op in context, see
https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...)


message 2: by Mike (last edited Jun 18, 2016 12:56PM) (new)

Mike Robbins (mikerobbins) | 291 comments I have done novellas - not based on the detailed reasoning above, but because I think it is a neglected form that now has a chance because of e-publishing. A collection of three I published made little headway, but one on its own at 99c/99p has been doing rather well.


message 3: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 16030 comments I'm not sure I can be that commercial to abridge or expand a story to fit into a specific format, based just on economic calculations. The length should feel natural, I think.
The calculations you offer make sense, when you use a logical pricing that the longer the piece the more expensive it should be. But there are authors selling a novel for 1$ and those from the example you give - garnering good money on Patreon for shorts.
Whatever you manage to sell in thousands is quite a success, IMO -:)


message 4: by Mike (new)

Mike Robbins (mikerobbins) | 291 comments Yes, I think I would go with that!

My predilection for novellas and short novels isn't about sales - it's because I like the form. That said, the fact that e-publishing has made it commercially viable is obviously great.


message 5: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 16030 comments Definitely. In print - unless you enter some anthology, less standard formats are usually a no -go, while e-publishing give them an opportunity in their own right


message 6: by Mike (new)

Mike Robbins (mikerobbins) | 291 comments And people are using those opportunities. Not only (actually not mainly) for novellas but also for new forms such as flash fiction. It's not a genre I plan to write, but I was asked to review this recently and was quite impressed: Writing Flash Fiction: How to Write Very Short Stories and Get Them Published. It's practical and informative. Her own flash fiction is worth a look as well.


message 7: by Alex (new)

Alex (asato) Great info! Thx Mike!


message 8: by Mike (new)

Mike Robbins (mikerobbins) | 291 comments Alex G wrote: "Great info! Thx Mike!"

It really is good, Alex. It's very useful if you're going to do short-form fiction, but it also has one chapter (ch. 6) that is extremely helpful for anyone who writes, at whatever length.


message 9: by Alex (new)

Alex (asato) It wasn't available thru inter library loan but it's not expensive on the kindle. The list of flash fic publishers would be very useful. I ordered this one thru interlib loan:

The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction: Tips from Editors, Teachers, and Writers in the Field


message 10: by Mike (new)

Mike Robbins (mikerobbins) | 291 comments Also looks good Alex.
The world is changing and if we want to, we can try all this stuff.


message 11: by Mehreen (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1908 comments Novellas are great. Short and sweet.


message 12: by Alex (last edited Jun 19, 2016 11:31PM) (new)

Alex (asato) Mehreen wrote: "Novellas are great. Short and sweet."

(an aside: my daughter just finished reading dr. jekyll and mr. hyde. that is a novella. she said that there was so much commentary in the forward and afterward that it made her think that the story would've been longer.)

Mike wrote: "The world is changing and if we want to, we can try all this stuff."

very true! w/the advent of the ebook and self-publishing, it's become the best period in history in which to be an author and a reader!

i've heard anecdotally that the reason why paperbacks had to be a certain length is so that a certain number of them would fit into the supermarket rack.

this author's opinion on why the length of novels has increased over the years is in order to maintain a certain profit level rather than artistic merit.

http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/killin...


message 13: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 16030 comments Haven't read flash fic, I feel a bit like dinosaur, but I guess it's changeable. What is it a sexier name for a drabble?


message 14: by Alex (last edited Jun 20, 2016 10:18AM) (new)

Alex (asato) Nik wrote: "Haven't read flash fic, I feel a bit like dinosaur, but I guess it's changeable. What is it a sexier name for a drabble?"

ha. indeed.

btw, tor.com is open for novellas until the end of this month, June.

http://www.sfwa.org/2016/06/june-mark...

Nik: worthy of note: they are looking for:

* Near Future Thriller


message 15: by Nadia (new)

Nadia Asencio (nadia_asencio) | 29 comments It's not just about the money, but about the quality of the work. I just read the novel, "I'm Thinking of Ending It," and honestly it could've won awards if it had been written as a short. Because it's a novel, the author had to dilute the narrative with a lot of fluff and repetition. It ruined the story. Had he included it in a collection of shorts, it would have maintained its integrity. If you're signing your name to a literary work, there is a lot more to consider than just money.


message 16: by Mike (new)

Mike Robbins (mikerobbins) | 291 comments Nadia wrote: "It's not just about the money, but about the quality of the work. I just read the novel, "I'm Thinking of Ending It," and honestly it could've won awards if it had been written as a short. Because ..."

Totally agree. Use the words you need to tell your story - no more, no less.


message 17: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 16030 comments Nadia wrote: "It's not just about the money, but about the quality of the work. I just read the novel, "I'm Thinking of Ending It," and honestly it could've won awards if it had been written as a short. Because ..."

Hi Nadia and welcome!
Do we have two of you, btw? -:) I've noticed you have two profiles.
With a written Guide to Political Discourse you should feel right home here in the group.
Good example!
Hope you'll enjoy


message 18: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 16030 comments Alex G wrote: "Nik: worthy of note: they are looking for:
* Near Future Thriller ..."


Thanks! Checked it out. Looks cool and would be great if I could participate. However I've re-checked the word count of my latest novel and with 68K I'd need to cut about a half of it to fit into a novella format...


message 19: by Alex (new)

Alex (asato) If you're a fast writer, you can write a new one. 2,222/day for 9 days and 1 day for editing. Actually, f/t writers shoot for around that number.


message 20: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 16030 comments Unfortunately, not realistic. Although there were days when I'd written that much and more, but without even having an idea for a near future thriller the rush would inevitably be detrimental to a quality -:(


message 21: by Nadia (new)

Nadia Asencio (nadia_asencio) | 29 comments Nik wrote: "Nadia wrote: "It's not just about the money, but about the quality of the work. I just read the novel, "I'm Thinking of Ending It," and honestly it could've won awards if it had been written as a s..."

Hey Nik! Yeah, it's me; I've been meaning to delete it but I want to transfer my book reviews over first! ;)


message 22: by Mehreen (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1908 comments I have written two novellas. One was 81 pages only. The other one was fine. I was feeling not so confident about the former after I had sent it to the publisher. However, a few days on I heard British writer, Ewan McEwan endorsing exactly 81 pages for novella writing. I felt vindicated.


message 23: by Alex (new)

Alex (asato) Aha! 20,250w!


message 24: by Mehreen (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1908 comments Less 15,000.


message 25: by Mehreen (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1908 comments The other one is 30,000


message 26: by William (last edited Jun 23, 2016 02:10PM) (new)

William J.Roby (Consta) | 16 comments Apropos short stories, Chekov gives us a nice little rule of thumb for them. He says if there's a gun over the fireplace at the beginning of the short story, then by the end it has to go off.


message 27: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 16030 comments William wrote: "Apropos short stories, Chekov gives us a nice little rule of thumb for them. He says if there's a gun over the fireplace at the beginning of the short story, then by the end it has to go off."

Yeah, Checkhov's gun. I'm not sure he gave this advice in the context of a short story necessarily or of any dramatical writing in general.
With all those shooting incidents, I'd say that even when having a gun, one should still hope to never use it.


message 28: by William (new)

William J.Roby (Consta) | 16 comments absolutely agree, unfortunate analogy under the present climate.


message 29: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 16030 comments William wrote: "absolutely agree, unfortunate analogy under the present climate."

Why, no, it's a spot-on advice for any author to stick to details that are meaningful for a plot and keep unnecessary ones out. Thanks for this helpful reminder!


back to top