Shannon Stacey

Weekend Question: Novellas

I’ve written several single title length romances that have all been rejected and I’m tired of investing so much time in them so I’m trying a novella instead. I have a couple of questions, if that’s not cheating.

How do you break up the chapters in a novella? Are the about the same length as in a single title, but just fewer of them or are they shorter chapters?

Even though I have to invest less time, am I making it harder to sell because there’s a smaller market for novellas? I’d appreciate any advice.

(Note from Shannon: I’ve clarified with the question asker and she’s referring to NY print publishers as far as the market but she knows novella length is popular in e-publishing and would love advice on the writing of them from e-published authors, as well. And I also asked how she’d classify her books—sexy but far from erotic.)

Don’t forget, if you’ve got an anything-writing-related question, email it to me at with Weekend Question in the subject line! All questions are posted anonymously, and authors who wish to answer anonymously can email their answers to me, as well.

5 comments to “Weekend Question: Novellas”

  1. Alison
      · March 7th, 2008 at 11:46 am · Link

    The one thing I do know about NY print novellas is that a lot of them are invitation only. I know Brava will accept submissions, but I don’t know if other pubs will. But others should have more specific knowledge than I do!

  2. Charlene
      · March 7th, 2008 at 3:25 pm · Link

    If you really like writing novellas, you can always write a 3-novella anthology and shop that around. There are plenty of novella markets outside of NY, too. Ebook publishers, Red Sage, if you write romance on the spicy side you have plenty of novella opportunities. And there are SFWA recognized publishers in print, magazine and e-format if your novellas lean to the fantasy side of things.

    As far as pacing, it’s just shorter and tighter. Your turning points still happen at the end of act one, act two, etc. it’s just that it takes fewer chapters to get there than in a novel where you might have 10 chapters for act one. You have to keep the focus tight to do that. My chapters for novellas run about the same length as my novel chapters, but I get fewer of them to tell the story.

  3. Sasha
      · March 7th, 2008 at 3:37 pm · Link

    My first piece of advice is Don’t assume just because the story is less pages that it will take less time of effort to write. Many authors find writing novellas harder than writing single title length because you have to pack a full story into a few hundred less pages. However, some Do find it easier. You won’t know which you are until you try it.

    Secondly, This may sound harsh, but if your tired of investing so much time in your writing, this may not be the job for you. Writing is hard work, no matter what length story you are writing. And once you sell and continue to sell on a regular basis, it doesn’t get any easier. You just get more used to it. LOL

    On a more positive note… You may just find that novellas are what works best for you. If so, then I’d follow Charlie’s suggestion and try to create a single author anthology.

    Good Luck

  4. Charlene
      · March 7th, 2008 at 11:45 pm · Link

    That’s a very important point, Sasha; shorter does NOT mean easier. It’s still a whole story and I think it’s just as much work as a novel. Just fewer pages. It’s easy to think you can squeeze another novella into the schedule because it’s only 120 pages, but you have to account for the creative energy, research, story development, editing, promoting, same as for a novel.

    I do think there’s value in trying shorter lengths if you want to experiment with different genres, subgenres, or styles, though. And it gives a nice sense of accomplishment and confidence when you finish. :nod:

  5. Jaci Burton
      · March 9th, 2008 at 11:03 am · Link

    When I read your question, my first question was….why are your full length novels being rejected? Are you being offered any feedback from the publishers? If so, could you maybe work on refining your full length work so that you can possibly get a full novel published? Just a thought.

    As far as novellas, I tend to write shorter chapters, and of course have fewer chapters per book in a novella. But that all depends on word count, so it’s hard to just throw a number out there because font size makes a difference too (this is never easy, is it?). I write in Times New Roman, 12 pt, and my novella chapters run about 10-12 pages, and I do about 10 chapters on avg for a novella, just to give you an idea. I’m sure many authors differ from that. You can do a novella in 6 chapters, or 15 chapters. Really, it depends on your story where you cut your chapters off.

    You’ve already gotten great advice from others on where you can potentially sell novellas so I won’t repeat it. Good luck! :grin:

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