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How do you know if your short prose is a short story or a novella? How long is a short story? A novella? What’s the difference? If you want to get your short story or novella published, you’ll need to know who is publishing your type of fiction—and you’ll need to know the best way to target your writing to literary agents and editors of literary magazines.
How long is a novella?
A novella is a “short book.” As such, a novella is considerably longer than a short story but shorter than a novel. A novella must be able to stand on its own as a book, but the exact word count is not set in stone: 30,000 to 60,000 words may be an appropriate length for a novella in most markets.
Who is publishing novellas?
Imagine the weight and size of a typical novel (80,000 to 100,000 words) when you hold it in your hand. Now imagine holding a slim, 30,000-word book—almost a pamphlet—in your hand. In order for a publisher to justify the production and marketing overhead of taking on a novella, the publisher must give the reader a valuable experience that justifies the price of the book.
The trouble is, the profit margin of a novella can be lower than the profit margin of a novel in certain circumstances. For that reason, few “big New York” publishers will take on a stand-alone novella—except in certain circumstances. When a novella is published, it is often bound in a collection of novellas by various authors or the same author, creating an anthology.
Because novellas are difficult to market as print novels, they have become very popular in the world of digital publishing. E-publishers are readily taking on novellas of all genres, and readers of e-books are on the rise. In fact, some e-publishers prefer novellas to novels because some readers of electronic formats prefer shorter books—and a good novella can pack a lot of story into a limited number of pages!
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How long is a short story?
Although a short story could be as long as 30,000 words, stories of that length begin to become too bulky for their genre. These days, editors of literary magazines are readily publishing short stories of approximately 3,500 words, and they are shying away from longer works.
Short stories published in online literary magazines are often held to even smaller word counts, sometimes as little as 1,000 words or less. The Internet has dramatically changed the way that modern readers approach fiction and prose, and the trend is that shorter short stories are more readily published than longer ones.
That said, the long story isn’t dead. It’s just a matter of seeking out the markets that are open to longer works. Some online journals are open to publishing longer stories (especially given that print costs don’t apply when a long story is accepted). Generally speaking, however, the larger trends in the industry suggest editors are favoring shorter works.
Read more: Stories And Poems: Why Length Matters
Who is publishing short stories?
The best place to publish a short story is a literary magazine—be it an online journal or a print magazine. Literary magazines have a long history of being both cutting-edge and traditional; if you’re a writer, you can bet there is a literary magazine out there for you. It’s just a matter of researching the right literary magazines for your writing. (Note: Writer’s Relief can do this research for you.)
Many writers dream of publishing a collection of their short stories; however, the short story genre is not especially popular with the book-buying, mainstream public at this point, and in order for a collection to be appealing to a literary agent or publisher, the writer would do well to have a significant number of publication credits.
Writer’s Relief is NOT currently working with writers of novellas. However, we do work with writers of short stories and, when merited, short story collections. Writer’s Relief is an author’s submission service; we assist creative writers with the process of making submissions. We lift the burden of researching markets and give our (invitation-only) clients more time to write. Learn more about how Writer’s Relief can help you submit your novel, short story, or short story collection.
QUESTION: Do you pay attention to your word count while you’re writing?