A Novel By Any Other Name
So, what is a novel?
This question was easy to answer ten years ago. For reasons of money and printing and savings and stocking, most publishers said something like “a novel starts at 80k words.”
Now it seems at least from browsing my books that a novel is whatever you say it is.
At one time it was this way, too. A novel back in the fifties and before was ‘long enough to be printed as an independent book’.
I once counted words on a Simak novel and found that it was 20k words long.
So I probably shouldn’t raise eyebrows when people post stuff like “I finished my 20k word novel.” I shouldn’t, but I do.
Look, the problem you’re going to run into with electronic is that you’re still selling to the public, and if the public feels cheated, they will visit unholy reviews on you as a result.
Now will the public feel “cheated” with a 20k word “novel”?
I don’t know. I do sometimes, coming to the end of something I bought thinking it was a novel think “oh, poop.” Of course, I don’t leave bad reviews so you have nothing to fear from me, but that I won’t buy you again.
Dean Wesley Smith says anything 30k and longer is a short novel. He also says not to put novellete on the cover, because no one outside publishing knows what that is.
He may be right, but I would advise you to call anything 30 to 50k words a “short novel.” And make sure that’s both on the description and the cover. Look, my kid has got complaints on his short stories because they’re not novels, even though it says so on both cover and description. There is no reason to invite the one-star reviews.
Now, once you’re in the more than 50k territory, you’re probably in novel range.
What you have to understand though is that novel isn’t a size.
I once was stunned when a newby told me she’d written a novel, when what she had amounted to little more than notes on a world.
A novel is, sure, more than 50 k words to allay reader frustrations. BUT it is more than that. It is also a unit of action and character. The character solves a problem/achieves something in the course of the story, and all subplots should support either action or theme.
So, there you have it: A novel is a story that takes at least 50k words to tell. YA can trend to the lower part of that range, but it’s not necessarily so. Oh, and in erotica you can get away with 20k words and it’s not a problem to call it a novel. They just seem to be smaller.
Erotica is also, usually, priced higher (not always. There’s a chick who makes a living on 99c erotica pieces) but in general newby novels, first novel are 2.99 to 3.99. After that you can raise the prices, though the sweet spot (which yeah, I didn’t follow, but it comes down when second comes out) is between 2.99 and 4.99. 2.99 is needed to get the Amazon 70% royalty without resort to tricks. and 4.99 seems to be the top people pay for “electronic, unknown.”
See, all your questions answered. No? Then ask in comments, and I WILL answer.