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Most print publishers seem to be insist that a novel should be atleast 60,000 words to merit publication, although one would have thought that, what with the pace of life everywhere becoming faster and faster, readers would be more inclined towards novellas which they could perhaps read through entirely over a weekend.

 

On the other hand, there are normally many interruptions in the course of reading through a long novel --- so much so that one may often lose the thread of what one's reading.

 

Is this common requirement of publishers, then, something they themselves have artificially created --- perhaps to serve their own production interests?

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Hi Gautam,

Most novels are 80,000-100,000 words. A pub is not going to waste money printing a book that's too short because it can turn out to be more expensive to print a short book. Pubs print based on print runs and printing books under a certain word count is more expensive than printing a bigger book. On the flipside books shouldn't be too large mainly because of shelf space in bookstores.

All genres have word count requirements. Some people can break the rules, like if you're previously published but if the writer is just starting out it's better for them to just use the word counts as a guide.

Also, publishers know what sell. Novellas and short stories don't sell. That's why most agents don't rep them. People don't buy short stories, poetry or novellas, period. That's why short story writers work the magazine circuit or self-publish. Pubs also won't publish a short story collection unless it's from someone already known and most times these collections are reprints from famous writers of generations ago.

100,000 words is not long at all. This is probably around almost 400 pages. That's not a long book at all and standard readers know this. Most people these days read books ten times longer but a book thats 330-430 pages is normal these days. You can read a book this size in a few days, some people can in a day if they read fast. So 80,000-100.000 words isn't nothing.

I get what you are saying about novellas, but obviously people don't want them or they would be selling. Most novelists who write short stories publish full-length novels but put up their short stories or novellas for free as ebooks. People don't buy short stories from unknowns. That's just how it is. Most people buy novels. That's where the demand is and that's what publishers go after.

I read short stories that authors put on their site, but would I buy them? No. Who would buy something that short? And who would buy short story collections from a new writer? Not many. It's the same with poetry, no one buys poetry and that's why agents don't rep it and that's why pubs don't want it.

We must remember publishing is a business and like every business there are rules and requirements. It's been like this for generations. Yes some things are for the publishers' own purposes but that's understandable. Writing is an art, publishing is a business and a lot of writers seem to get the two mixed up. Publishers created the traditional publishing model and if people want to be published, they have to abide by requirements. If they don't want to then they can always self-publish but pubs aren't going to change something they've being doing for hundreds of years.

Short stories and novellas have never sold and pubs would be stupid to print up something thats 30 pages and think someone is going to spend money on a written piece that short. That's why shorts are mostly in magazines.

The bottom line is pubs are not going to put money into shorter books, poetry and short stories because they do not sell. That's the bottom line.

If people want to put out these works they can e-publish, but even then most times e-pubs don't pay you for a novella or short story.

Best Wishes!

http://www.stacy-deanne.net
Another thing, about novellas. I wouldn't be more inclined to read one over a novel. I want something that's gonna stimulate me and take me away. I'd pick a novel any day, because I can read a short story in five minutes. Readers want books they can savor. I read short stories along with novels sometimes, but I don't know anyone who will say they only read short stories and nothing else. Most people read novels and that's why they sell.

It's about the demand bottom line. Obviously people prefer novels or short stories would be selling.

A point about "interruptions". If an author can't write a book that keeps the reader interested, then that's their fault, not the publisher's. That's why you have be able to put out compelling books, to keep someone's attention. If someone can easily be interrupted while reading a book then the author didn't do their job. That's why agents and editors do the "walk away" test. They see how long they can read a manuscript without walking away and thinking about it. If they put that sucker down before they reach halfway, they aren't offering a contract. That's how they judge the interest factor of a book.

It's not about how long the word count is. That has nothing to do with it, it's how engaging that writer is and whether their writing is strong enough to keep the reader's attention. If an author can't keep a reader's attention in 300-400 pages then that's not a good writer at all.

Best Wishes!
Hello Stacy-Deanne,

Thanks for your informed response.
You're welcome!

Best Wishes!

http://www.stacy-deanne.net
60,000 words are actually easily achievable and even superceded. In fact my own novel i had close to 90,000 words when it is only 80 or 85% complete so it could be more.

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