It was early 2019 that I first wrote about the real-world viability of short stories, now that we’re living in the age of ebooks. Of course, we’ve seen in recent years a surprising change in people’s spending habits when it comes to books. We were moving away from paper-versions to ebooks at a very fast rate. But things change, and for a variety of complicated reasons, we’re seeing people move back to paper. Personally, I can’t remember the last time I bought a “dead-tree” version of a book. I like the comfort and control that an ebook reader provides. But it seems I’m increasingly in the minority.
So short stories can be viable now many people have e-readers. But can the same also be true of the novella?
Often described as a story that’s roughly between, I don’t know, 30,000 – 60,000 words, novellas have seemed to be a dying art-form. Too long to be a short story, too short to be a full-length novel.
It’s not the length that causes problems, it’s the viability in the age pre-ebook readers.
Again, just like with a short story, a novella can’t be economically justified as a traditional mass-market physical paperback book (or hardback for the matter). But, when it’s all bits and bytes, a digital copy for ⅓ or ½ or even ⅔ the price of a regular full-length novel can work.
And you know what? It’s a great thing to take a creative stab at as a writer yourself. Learn how to tell a compelling story with real structure, but hone your skills writing in a tight, lean and impactful way. Then maybe work up to a full-blown novel? The world is your oyster!