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Old 05-14-2019, 03:52 AM   #16
gmw
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Originally Posted by Pulpmeister View Post
[...] W Somerset Maugham published "Up at the Villa" as a book in 1953, which ran to 30,000 words. He described it as a "novelette". I guess that's a professional's opinion!
Well, a publishers opinion. In the '80s, Stephen King produced three very long paperbacks containing four novellas each. The first, Different Seasons, was a 560 page paperback which, at a guess, places the stories around 35k, maybe 40k, words each. The next books (The Backman Books and Four Past Midnight) got progressively longer (860 pages, 930 pages).

But in all these examples the stories were complete and stood well on their own. No one would complain, now, of buying these individually - at the right price. But, as crich70 noted, no one is going to be happy buy the 1954 published The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R.Tolkien (which is, what?, 140k words or something) and discover that they only have 1/3rd of the story.

My current work-in-progress, which has been a work-in-progress for far too long now, suffers from the too-long-for-a-single-novel problem. With ebooks it may not matter on a technical level but matters very much as to what you can market. What I consider to be the first book (approx 90k words, there is a definitely break at this point) is obviously not the finish of the story, but it's definitely novel length in print terms. Marketing this - if it ever gets finished - is going to present difficulties.
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Old 05-14-2019, 06:00 AM   #17
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In the preface to the book, Maugham wrote, as the first sentence:

"Up at the Villa is a novelette."

And my modest expertise would concur. But in marketing ebooks the physical size as per printed book is unimportant. In the absence of a physical book, though, I do like to have a rough idea on books "size" by wordage, and the however vague "novel", "novelette" and "short story" give you a rough idea.

As for buying a book that isn't complete: I bought a copy of Tom Clancy's last book, The Teeth of the Tiger, and imagine my shock after labouring through well over 100,000 dull and improbable words (much of them pure padding) to discover that it was only half the story! It was finally completed by someone else some years later.
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Old 05-14-2019, 08:03 AM   #18
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I have to disagree about length being unimportant in ebooks. The first part of the disagreement comes because I also publish in paper so have to consider that (and would prefer not to maintain separate editions). But the biggest factor is that people can be quite reluctant to buy a 300k word novel, even if price wasn't an issue, but most especially when pricing might be around 3 x 100k novels - if we were going to price it close to fairly. (Of course, book pricing doesn't really work like that.) Size really does affect your marketing and pricing options, even in ebooks.
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Old 05-15-2019, 09:00 PM   #19
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Serendipity: last night I was reading P G Wodehouse's book "Performing Flea", collected from the many letters he wrote over many years to his great friend Bill Townend. In a 1934 letter he touched upon story lengths.

"I am now faced with a difficult job-- a 16,000 word story for the New York Herald-Tribune, to run in four parts. But I can't seem to get the right idea. A short story of 7,000 words is simple, and a novelette of 30,000, too., but this in-between length is trying. I haven't room to build up an elaborate plot, and yet the story must not be thin and must have at least a passable curtain for each instalment. Oh well, I suppose it will come."
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Old Yesterday, 09:05 AM   #20
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His problem was thinking that a word length of 30,000 falls into the novelette category. (Novelette: 7,500 - 17,500)

Most editors (and writers, too, I imagine) would consider that length to be in the novella category. I know I do. (Novella: 20,000 - 40,000)

There is no exact word count, as you know, for any category, but still....

Off-Topic for a new thread: Why is the Writers' Corner so moribund?
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Old Yesterday, 01:28 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gmw View Post
I have to disagree about length being unimportant in ebooks. The first part of the disagreement comes because I also publish in paper so have to consider that (and would prefer not to maintain separate editions). But the biggest factor is that people can be quite reluctant to buy a 300k word novel, even if price wasn't an issue, but most especially when pricing might be around 3 x 100k novels - if we were going to price it close to fairly. (Of course, book pricing doesn't really work like that.) Size really does affect your marketing and pricing options, even in ebooks.
Warning, OT, kinda (tangentially related):

We're doing a print layout on a 335K-word novel. I'm breath-holding, trying to make sure that the bloody thing meets the 2.25" wide maximum for a spine size (~828 pages/400-ish sheets at KDP); that's a physical limitation of perfect-bound books, and yet is still readable. It will be a d@mned relief when we get to the eBook stage! This is the client's 3rd book of 4, none of them short, but this is the monster of the group. Talk about prolific...

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Old Yesterday, 05:18 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr. Drib View Post
His problem was thinking that a word length of 30,000 falls into the novelette category. (Novelette: 7,500 - 17,500)

Most editors (and writers, too, I imagine) would consider that length to be in the novella category. I know I do. (Novella: 20,000 - 40,000)

There is no exact word count, as you know, for any category, but still....
This reminds me of the hilarious interpretations of terms that are used in fanfiction:

Drabble: 100 words exactly (unless it's not).
Ficlet: Up to 1,000 words (unless it's not)
One Shot: One chapter (who knows how many words) of short-ish length. (unless it's not).

Like some of the old etymologists, I rail against the drabble being anything other than exactly 100 words but it's a losing battle.
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Off-Topic for a new thread: Why is the Writers' Corner so moribund?
Especially as this is my favorite forum (fora?)
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Old Yesterday, 05:41 PM   #23
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I some times wonder what the Cut from the books when they e-book them. Like getting an Abridged book. How do you loose 100 pages? HB 700 pages Starting at Chapter 1..... Stopping at the End of the last chapter. PB same. E-Book 600 they even count cover to cover!!
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Old Yesterday, 06:03 PM   #24
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I some times wonder what the Cut from the books when they e-book them. Like getting an Abridged book. How do you loose 100 pages? HB 700 pages Starting at Chapter 1..... Stopping at the End of the last chapter. PB same. E-Book 600 they even count cover to cover!!
Usually nothing it cut; that would be too much work.

Ebooks do not have pages, so any reference to pages for an ebook is either to some fake word-per-page calculation or is a reference to some print version. Print versions will vary with with paper size and typography even when they contain exactly the same words. Similarly, ebook vendors' page count info will vary with their word-per-page calculations or with which print version they use for reference.
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Old Yesterday, 06:09 PM   #25
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I don't understand why some people say it's difficult to provide a word count. That should be so trivial. Start with the first word of chapter 1, and end with the last word of the final chapter. Do not include anything else - no table of contents, appendix, preface, epilogue, etc. In some books the preface and epilogue are part of the story, but in other books, not so much. Too bad - "the standard" says they don't get included in word counts. If an author feels so strongly that they want to protest, just name them "Chapter One - Preface" and e.g., "Chapter 27 - Epilogue". Any word between chapter one and the final chapter gets counted - even if it's, say, a caption under a picture. Or even if the actual words are "chapter six". Whatever markup language is used to publish books these days is no doubt easily parseable for a very accurate computer-generated word count.

It really isn't difficult to come up with a reasonable standard - unless the point is to avoid a reasonable standard in the first place - which I'm guessing might be a big part of the problem. The authors/publishers don't want a standard so they can continue to dodge/manipulate specifying a word count that would be useful to consumers.
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Old Yesterday, 10:38 PM   #26
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Quote:
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Usually nothing it cut; that would be too much work.

Ebooks do not have pages, so any reference to pages for an ebook is either to some fake word-per-page calculation or is a reference to some print version. Print versions will vary with with paper size and typography even when they contain exactly the same words. Similarly, ebook vendors' page count info will vary with their word-per-page calculations or with which print version they use for reference.
SF readers may know of the categories used for the Hugo awards

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugo_Award#Categories


Best Novel 1953 Stories of 40,000 words or more

Best Novella 1968 Stories of between 17,500 and 40,000 words

Best Novelette 1955 Stories of between 7,500 and 17,500 words

Best Short Story 1955 Stories of less than 7,500 words

==

Back when, no one felt short changed by Rocannon's World by Ursula K. LeGuin first published as an ACE double.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocannon%27s_World

But note definitions of 'word' differ by word processor for the more obscure cases or even whether hyphenated words are counted as two.
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