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Novels and Novellas and Tomes, Oh My! (countercraft.substack.com)
10 points by samclemens 6 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 5 comments

For Standard Ebooks, our default approach is that a short story is up to 20k words, a novella between 20k and 40k, and a novel is greater than 40k. Short stories and novellas get combined into a comprehensive (or occasionally themed) short fiction compilation, assuming there’s enough of them.

Great read. As a European, one always wonders why American fiction is so looong, and this provides a plausible explanation (it's the supermarkets!)

> As writers, we can choose to devote times to projects that seem more likely to be published or bring in income.

I think the new thing with "amateurs" self-publishing ebooks is that 1/ they don't expect to derive any significant income from it, and 2/ they are free to set their own prices. This frees them from economic constraints (and associated length requirements).

agreed, but it's not just in fiction IMO. problem extends to many other genres, and even media outside of print such as videos.

one could also make a similar point for podcasts which don't have to play by any of the rules in this article but still are mostly drivel with a low content/noise ratio.

Looong as compared to Buddenbrooks? Knausgard's work?

I don't find the sales channel forces described here super convincing as as an explanation for change in novel length. I find it especially hard to believe that grocery stores were ever a major economic driver for 'fat fantasy' sales, but maybe I'm wrong, and I'm just a bookstore snob.

It would be interesting to see some hard data on word counts over time, broken down by genre.

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