Is writng a novella sometimes a better, more practical option?
by Mike Chiero
Hello, Mr. Strathy. Suppose there simply wasn't enough material for one's dream novel and rather than abandoning the project tried to find a market for it as a novella? Do people even read them any longer and are there any publishers out there still interested in them? Thank you, sir.
There always has been a market for novellas. Literary journals (including pulp fiction magazines) have been publishing them since at least the 1930s. You tend to get more of a flat fee selling a story to a journal, rather than royalties. But if you are smart and retain all the rights except for first print publication, you have the option of republishing your novella later in an anthology or even as a standalone volume.
As for publishing a novella as a standalone work...
Publishers used to be more reluctant to publish novellas since the costs were higher and they were harder to market. Turn a novella sideways on a bookstore shelf and it disappears. Nonetheless, some novellas were published, just not nearly as many as novels.
Today, the growth of ebooks has created more of a market for novellas. Many readers will download low-priced reads without paying a lot of attention to the length.
Of course, the challenge with ebooks is all in the marketing and publicity. Getting your get your novella visible on amazon -- that is, in the first page of results for a popular category -- so that readers will actually buy it takes a clever strategy.
However, the advantage of ebooks is that they are less expensive to produce, so your royalty per copy may be higher.
The rise of ebooks has led to many writers self-publishing novellas in ebook form. Of course, it greatly helps your sales if you have already established a readership by traditionally publishing novels or short stories, so that fans will be searching amazon for anything else you have written.
You might try Writers Market (either the most recent print/ebook edition or the online service), which will tell you a lot about the journals and book publishers that are looking for novellas -- including what specifically they want and how to approach them.