No, I’m not talking about that kind of ‘size’. Get your minds out of the gutter. I’m talking about book length. I was on Amazon the other day and noticed that Cynthia Eden had a new release called, The Wolf Within. After buying the book (she’s one of my favorite paranormal romance authors), I noticed that some of the reviewers referred to it as a NOVELLA. Blink. The book is approx. 60,000 words. That’s NOT a novella. That’s a category length book.
Anyway, it made me realize that I don’t think a lot of readers know the differences between book lengths. So I’m going to try to clear up some of the confusion with this post. Wish me luck.
Back in the day, I used to write novellas for Kensington Brava. This was when the late, great Kate Duffy was the main romance editor at the publishing house. Novellas for Brava at the time were running from 20 to 30K in length. I’m sure some stretched over that higher number, but the minimum was 20K for their anthology stories. There were three stories in each anthology and they charged $14 per anthology, which worked out to be a little over $4.50 per story. Yep, you read that right–$4.50. My novellas for Ellora’s Cave were priced even higher. (Keep that in mind, the next time you see a novella priced at $2.99 or $3.99. 😉
Back to my original point, the higher length for novellas in general tends to be around 40K/45K. Are their exceptions? Sure, but once you venture into the 50,000 word range you’re hitting what is known as ‘CATEGORY LENGTH’. This term was coined by Harlequin, I believe. It was used to describe a mid-length book. (ie Longer than a novella, but shorter than a novel.) These books are priced between $3.50 (publisher site price and Walmart) to $5.75. The word count ranges from 50K to 75K. They oftentimes are (and should be) priced a little higher than a novella. Novels start at the 80k length and go all the way to 200K. Though to be honest, if your book is hitting the 175 to 200K range, it might be time to break it up into TWO novels. Again, there are exceptions ***coughHarryPottercough***. Finally, there are short stories, which are at the other end of the spectrum. They can be anywhere from 1000 words to 14K. Once you hit 15K you’re starting to inch into novella range again.
These word counts were developed so that paperback book/magazine lengths could be determined. With the onset of Indie publishing, it’s changed how readers and authors view book length. It’s also changed the value of books. There’s a fine line between valuing and undervaluing work. As an author, I try very hard to balance value with profit. I charge less than what my professional publishers charged because I want readers to feel like they’re getting a good deal. Personally, I LOVE getting a good deal. At the same time, I don’t want readers to think that I work for free–or that I ‘should’ work for free. (That’s CRAZY talk.) Writing is my passion, but it’s also my profession.
For the first time in the history of publishing, midlist authors are making a living with their writing. It’s a great time to be a writer. It’s also a great time to be a reader. 🙂 Authors (like readers) are trying to find their way in this new ‘world’. That means experimenting with book lengths, covers, prices, etc. Most authors aren’t trying to rip anyone off. They want to make their readers happy. (I know I do.) They also want to grow their readership. But it takes time to figure everything out. I know I’m still working on it and my first ebook came out in 2003.