Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Short fiction vs. novels

A final note.

It used to be possible to make a living -- though not a good one -- by writing and selling many, many short stories. But this required the existance of a lot of magazines and the use of pen names, so readers would not realize that they were actually reading only half a dozen writers.

If you plan to make a living from writing nowadays, you had better focus on novels. But remember that most writers, even published novelists, do not make a living from writing.

What you can get from short stories is a fair amount of recognition, and this is not bad.

2 comments:

bob charters said...

What about novellas?

A couple of my stories are too big to qualify as short stories, but too small to be a novel. One of them was an idea I had for a longer novel, but after I fleshed it all out and all that, it was way too short. Most publishers ask for something 50,000 or more words (some 100K).

For the moment, I'm just keeping them on my website as a free download to reward surfers that follow the link on my longer, soon-to-be-released novel.

Any other ideas?

Eleanor said...

I like novellas, aka short novels, a lot. It's a hard length to sell, though there are some markets: the prozines publish some novellas, and there are small press publishers who do chapbook editions of noevellas.

I have thought about going over to YA because that is a market for stories at the novella-novel border. The thing that is great about novellas is -- they have some of the richness of a novel without the bloat and fluff that comes from a story that has been forced to novel length. There's a wonderful line that comes (I think) from a theater review: "There is less here than meets the eye." And this is true of many novels.