Saturday, September 22, 2018

Publishing Trends and Differences in Novel Lengths

The world of publishing is ever-changing, and new trends develop almost daily, or so it seems. A few years ago I worked in a big-box bookstore, and even then the literary world was changing. Today, gone is the restrictions on so many “fundamental” standards of what constitutes a piece of literature that will sell. Believe it or not, today’s publishing market, especially for those who publish through Amazon KDP is a virtual wonderland.

Traditionally, when you think of publishing a work, you categorize it by calling it a novel, novella or short story. Today those categories are broken down even further (if you publish virtually.) In fact, remember the stories of the dime store novels, or the history of people like Poe who published serial stories in newspapers and magazines? Today, the dime store novel has made a comeback, and serials are even sought after!

So, what I am telling you is that there are so many different categories and options for publishing an ebook, you may already have a few “books” nearly finished, and you don’t even know it. Now for you purists, I am going to use the term book interchangeably, even for a short read, so button down the hatches and get ready to deal with it.

Cool Amazon Listing Categories

Now, you don’t have to list your book in these categories. Amazon does it for you. I believe it is based on word count, but who really knows because, well Amazon.
Short Reads! And I mean exactly what I said. Short reads!!!

Short Reads come in all lengths: 30-minute reads (12-21 pages), 45-minute reads (22-32 pages), 1-hour (33-43 pages), and 2-hour reads (65-100 pages). Traditional short stories fall into this category. Short stories are no more than 10,000 words, but unlike traditional short stories, these stories are published individual instead of in a collection of works. Cool, right? People actually love this length, because it gives them something to read during a few minutes of downtime. Think of them as temporary escapes from the daily grind.

With that said, there are some critics who just like to complain that there isn’t enough to read in these kinds of stories. I say BOO on YOU! Stand up for yourself, mark the story a short read, and be done with it. Trust me; I’ve had scores of downloads on mine. If people didn’t want them, Amazon wouldn’t be selling them.

Of course, make sure to price them accordingly. I’ve had a few of mine priced anywhere between .99 and 2.99 and still really haven’t found the sweet spot for sales. Some people don’t want to pay 2.99 for a short read, but some people will. Investigate your market to see what books in your genre are selling for. I’ve downloaded many short reads that were listed at 2.99 because I had Kindle Unlimited. So, that’s also a thing you should consider when pricing. Are you going to list in Kindle Unlimited? If so, you can probably get by with the higher price.

Novellas: Extended Short Stories.

I love the novella. I suspect most of my fiction writing falls into this category. Novellas tend to be between 10,001 to 39,999 words. Novellas are long enough to spin a good yarn, and keep people wanting more.

Pricing a novella can be tricky, but most of the time I price mine at 2.99. Again, that depends on the genre and if a work is fiction or nonfiction. I can’t stress enough to do market research.

Short Novel: A Baby Novel

Short novels are long enough to be considered a true “book” but are not quite long enough to be a novel. Short novel word count falls between 40,000 and 59,000 words. Depending on the genre, this may be the traditional word count for a book. For example, the typical romance novel only has around 40,000 to 45,000 words.

Short novel pricing is a little easier for me. I generally price these novels for 4.99. That gives an author a 70% royalty rate and about 3.50 per book. That is a huge royalty rate! Royalties on traditionally published books at this price are less than a dollar per book. It’s easy to see why so many traditionally published authors are taking up the Indie platform.

Novel: Wow! Did you really write that much?

A novel is anything over 60,000 words. That is a lot of writing, and if you have made it to this word count you deserve a pat on the back!!! Novels are those books you see in the bookstore that are ginormous. Think Stephen King, and Harry Potter book 7. When I wrote my first book, I told myself that I just had to write 250 pages and I would have a book. It helped me move forward, and I finally produced a book, even though it took years. A long time ago, these were the novels that you slaved over and then sent off to publishers. I am happy to say in today’s market; you can slave over it, have it edited, then upload it yourself for a nifty profit.

Be careful when you price your novel. Novel prices are all over the place. You don’t want to price your book too low and undervalue it, but you don’t want to price it too high either. Again, market research is your new best friend. Different genres and different topics of non-fiction get different prices. I like to see what traditional authors in my genre are selling their books at and make sure I don’t price mine over that. Let’s face it, I’m not JK Rowling, or Stephanie Meyer, no matter how much I’d like to be selling books like them.

I hope if you’re writing these breakdowns will help you, and also if you were unfamiliar with short reads, I am glad you now know about them. I look forward to hearing from you!