At Forbes, which has been developing into an unlikely source of articles about e-publishing of late, Suw Charman-Anderson has a series of articles about the resurgence of the novella form thanks to the rise of e-publishing. There is one article about the rise of the novella in general and another about making novellas profitable in e-book form (well, it is Forbes). The articles also sparked a discussion over at The Passive Voice.
The resurgence of the novella is part of a trend towards the rise of shorter fiction in general due to the e-book revolution. I already blogged about this here and here. Now the Forbes article focusses entirely on trad publishing, where novellas have long been a hard sell and relegated to small specialty publishers. However, novella length works are ideally suited to indie publishing as well, simply because the various length limitations and prejudices of traditional publishing no longer apply. Indeed, Pegasus Pulp offers two novella length works, Mercy Mission, which is a genuine SF novella of 27000 words and Murder in the Family, a novella sized collection of short crime fiction.
E-books are ideally suited to publishing standalone short stories, novelettes and novellas, though the longer edge of short fiction (i.e. novellas and longer novelettes) is suited to print publishing as well. For example, Dean Wesley Smith offers print editions of many of his shorter works. Interestingly, the Forbes article extolls a format I genuinely dislike, deluxe hardcover editions of novellas. Now I hardly ever buy hardcovers in general and deluxe novella hardcovers have always struck me as a transparent ploy to get past the reluctance of many readers to buy short fiction by making it seems as if the reader is getting their money’s worth due to the heftier hardcover edition. Which is okay, if you like hardcovers, I guess. However, I don’t like hardcovers and find them unwieldy, so I’m certainly not going to pay a premium price for reading a novella in hardcover format. In fact, I think that the very small paperbacks offered by the Reclam Verlag and familiar to all German students would be the ideal size for short fiction print editions. However, POD providers only offer trade paperback size so far. Interestingly, I noticed that Reclam does have a POD services arm now. Hmm…
On a related note, over at SF Signal, resident short fiction reviewer Carl V. Anderson has posted a list of questions regarding how readers feel about short fiction.
BTW, print editions of my novellas and longer novelettes will be coming eventually, as soon as I get around to figuring out how to format my books for print.