Death of The Novella?

Two years ago I did my homework. I tried to find a unique niche I could put my stories into, and quickly found the big hole when it came to novellas. So, I ended the first Dying Days zombie book on a cliffhanger ending and stopped it at around 25,000 words. The original idea was about twice the length. It sold quite well, and still does in my opinion. Right now it’s only 99 cents, too. 

dying days2

Then I began writing nothing longer than 25k, getting novellas out into the world like a madman… but no longer pieces, unless you count short story collections. Which I don’t. But a funny thing happened along the way… please, allow me to explain…

I had a couple of Skype conversations with the wonderful Robert Chazz Chute, who is a wealth of information and also a cool guy to just chat and laugh with, one of the people on my list I hope to meet some day (Alyssa Milano is at the top of the list, btw), and we like to pick each other’s brains about stuff going on and what works now and what worked then, and where the hell we are going in order to stay afloat. We don’t do the negative All Is Lost talk, which I like. I’m negative enough. No, we talk about what each of us is doing to get sales and new readers. 

One interesting subject was the length of our releases, and he is currently very high on serializing, which I dabbled in with Miami Spy Games to mixed results. But novella-length stories are not the wave of the future in my opinion. The readers want more… or less. 

Miami Spy Games Epi 1 Cover 253x391

My feeling is there are two distinct camps of readers right now for me… your results will vary. Anyway, I have a nice rabid following for my short stories selling for 99 cents, like the Keyport Cthulhu stories (Ancient, for instance) but my novella sales have slipped. I think it is a combination of things, like Amazon devaluing anything priced under $3.99 and new readers having a hard time finding my work, but also the length of them being in the 25k range and at $2.99. I won’t jack the prices up to $3.99 unless I think it will attract new readers. I want there to be some value to my work in both length and price (and content, let’s be honest).


So, my immediate goal is to write longer pieces (50k or so) and short stories and shy away from novellas and see what happens. Will I succeed? Have I found the secret formula? Have I figured out the key to selling a million books, cash and new cars, Alyssa Milano calling me? As usual, I have no idea.

But I’m going to figure it out. 


12 Responses to “Death of The Novella?”

  1. I have a 7500 word short story selling like crazy for $0.99, and 75,000 word novels selling at 2.99…
    It doesn’t make sense for me to sell 10x the words for 3x the price. Nor do I think people would pay $9.99 for a Kirk Allmond novel.

    I’ve been seriously considering releasing 5000 word “chapters” as serialized short stories for $0.99


  2. I do enjoy novellas, for things like horror or pulp action. I also love the serialized format – it’s a shame there’s no magazines like the classic pulps around any more to host them. At least not as far as I know,,,


  3. Interesting Armand. The longer piece vs. shorter is something I’ve been fighting with over my “Southern Devils” project.


  4. I think it is a situational thing. Railroad! continues to be my biggest seller, and they are all novella sized around 30k. (Read ‘biggest’ as: more than the others by a long shot, but I still need my day job.) I think it is the serial format of the web site mixed with the kindle releases that hooks folks. They have a very reliable release date–every three months–with a standalone story arch for each one and an over arc for the whole series. I plan on doing at least one more series this way, and perhaps another if I can find the time.


  5. Very interesting.. Thanks for sharing…x


  6. Hey, Armand. You’re on my list of people to meet, too, right behind 1980s Nina Peeples (as soon as I fix up the time machine.) My WIP, the coming-of-age/plague Apocalypse/Aspergers/Incredible Journey thriller has climbed past 140,000 words, so I can’t imagine doing anything but serializing it at this point. That takes the edge of making decisions.

    However, I still go back and forth on this issue with other projects. For instance, Murders Among Dead Trees is packed with short stories. Should I have released that as dozens of short stories at 99 cents each instead of the collection? Should I still break it up in the future? If sales don’t pick up, after the releases coming soon, I’ll have to do that.

    Meanwhile, I’m working on some new promotional ideas. Skype soon, and thanks for the kind hat tip. (I’d go negative, too, but you’re always so sunny, happy and banana beered when we talk.)


  7. Reblogged this on Official Site of Alex Laybourne – Author and commented:
    Another interesting post from Armand Rosamilia.


  8. I think it is easier to write longer works than it is to put every single word to perfect usage in a novella. Congrats on the novella publications and I hope you are a very successful novelist as well.


  9. VictoriaJoDean Says:

    Keep writing! That’s the main thing – thanks for stopping by my blob – it led me to you!


  10. I’ve just started publishing recently and have published three novellas as part of a series but considering publishing them all as a novel with an epilogue…I’m not selling many but getting good comments…


  11. Good luck. Selling on Amazon is difficult. My teen,sci-fi novel, Alien Assistant hasn’t sold in months. I just lowered the price to .99. I have decided to forego writing for kids and go with humor those above 19. I have several things in the works.Thanks for following my blog.


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