Good things come in small packages?
Posted by Cate Rowan Sep 10 2012, 12:02 am in Indie Publishing, Marketing, publishing industry, story length, word count
Once upon a time—okay, about ten years ago—we romance writers all knew how long a story should be. If you were writing for a Harlequin line, there was a specific word count to be met for it. If you were writing a single-title novel for another publisher, it needed to be 90-100,000 words. There were exceptions, to be sure, but for the most part, things were set and clear.
Very few novellas were published. Due to the constraints of efficient print publishing, novellas had to be grouped into multi-author anthologies or into anthologies by a single (generally best-selling) author. Short stories had almost no place to go. There were no other options.
Five or six years ago, single-title lengths were trending downward, toward 80-90,000 words.
Now, with the explosion of self-publishing, stories of any word count can find a home—and readers—and sales.
As an indie author, I have every length to play with. Sometimes I’m certain that the story I have in mind will take a whole novel to tell. Or I may know I’m aiming for a very short story, or a novelette, or a novella. Of course, some of those times when I think I know, I’m, well, wrong.
I was going to announce a release today, but instead, I’ve found myself holding off, because I think the story wants a little more room.
I’m grateful I have that option. But these days, even trad-pubbed authors have more choices. Digital publishing makes shorter works possible. Publishers don’t have to concern themselves with how much (or how little) paper a story will use, and whether it can be published efficiently.
Authors on every publishing path are finding advantages to shorter stories. Short works can entice readers toward longer ones and bring in readers who might not otherwise find you. For example, in the last two weeks my free fantasy short story, Swords and Scimitars, has received two reviews from guys. Yay! Men aren’t the typical fantasy romance reader, but maybe, just maybe, they’ll keep reading and go on to discover the rest of the wonderful genre of romance. Gateway drugs!
So I’m curious: have you found yourself writing shorter works now? Do you enjoy writing shorter tales as an author—and do you enjoy reading shorter ones as a reader?