Novella Trend: Read or Skip?

Recently novellas have become a popular trend in the publishing industry. With so many novellas and novella collections being released, I thought we could take a look at the trends in the industry today.

What are the pros and cons of novellas?

Pros:

  • The shorter length of the novella allows new readers to be introduced to an author that they have not previously read, without having to commit to a full-length novel. This gives authors the opportunity to gain new readers.
  • Novellas that are written as an extension of previous works or follow characters that readers already know and love have a built-in readership. Readers are often eager to learn more about the characters they are invested in, and novellas give them that opportunity, while also allowing the author to enhance an already established world.
  • Novella collections give authors the chance to collaborate on ideas and form a novel together, weaving a common theme throughout. This also gives the reader a chance to read several new authors together, or even several authors together that they already love.

Cons:

  • Many readers are cautious, even skeptical, to read novellas because they prefer full-length novels. Novellas can sometimes be over before they ever really begin.
  • Certain aspects, such as character development, are difficult to achieve in the short length of a novella. Another aspect that is difficult to achieve with such a small word-count is believability of the plot, situation, and outcome of the story.
  • Some readers question the necessity of these add-ons to what would otherwise be a stand-alone novel. Is this extra information vital/important? Will it have any impact on what will happen in the full-length novels this author writes?

Types of Novellas

Oh, you thought that a novella was just a novella? Nope! Novellas take several different shapes in the marketplace today.

The Novella Series

In the first picture, featured above, you can see the Year of Weddings novellas. This novella series is from Zondervan. Every month, they will be publishing a novella from a different author as e-books. Eventually, these novellas will be published in volumes of Winter, Summer, Spring, and Fall weddings, respectively. Each novella in the series is a stand-alone and is written by a different author, and together, they share a common theme (weddings). To find out more about this series, you can click here to see which authors are involved in this project and what their novellas are about.

Novella Collections

There are also novella collections being published. Typically, this is four authors who each write a novella with a common theme or plot, and together, these novellas make up a full-length novel. This may include the same setting or certain characters making an appearance in each novella within the novel.

The Stand-Alone Novella

The stand-alone novella is an independent story that is neither connected to a full-length novel by the author, nor is it a part of a collection. These are seen from well-established authors who are writing in-between novels.

The Connecting-the-Dots Novella

Yet another way the novella is making an impact on the market is by allowing authors to write shorter-length stories that expand upon previous novels. Some authors are beginning to write novellas that connect their full-length novels together. A good example of the Connecting-the-Dots Novella is Kim Vogel Sawyer. She writes stand-alone novels that are all set in different time periods, yet, somehow, she finds a way to connect them through her novellas. Now, I have no idea how she figured that one out, but if she can do it, don’t tell me it’s impossible! To find out more about how her stories connect, click here to read Kim’s words about the process.

This is NOT an exhaustive list

I hope I was able to give a good overview of the world of novellas, but this is not an exhaustive list. There is so much more out there!

Personally, I choose novellas the same way I choose novels: who wrote it, what is it about, and do I like the cover?

With that criteria in mind, I am looking forward to Jody Hedlund’s e-novella, coming out later this year, which will introduce readers to her upcoming lighthouse series.ย Authors Sarah Sundin, Tricia Goyer, and Cara Putman also have a Christmas novella collection, titled Where Treetops Glisten, which will be released at the end of the year.

What do you think?

With all that said, what are your thoughts? Pros and cons of novellas? What helps you decide whether you will read or skip a novella? If you are already familiar with the author? Or if the novella is based on characters from a novel you read and loved?

Share your opinions!

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13 thoughts on “Novella Trend: Read or Skip?

  1. What a fabulous post about novellas! I’ve never been a fan, but your pros list might make me rethink it :). Maybe, if I really loved the novel and there was a novella out there continuing the story, I’d try it out. Maybe ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. Thanks, Jamie! I’ve been working on it for a couple weeks now, so it feels good to finally share it with everyone! Ohh, I’m so glad that I might have swayed you, maybe. Well, if you’ve read Rachel Hauck’s Once Upon A Prince (I think you have, right?), then you should start with A March Bride. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s about Nathaniel and Susanna from that novel.

      Let me know if you decide to take the plunge! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  2. Depends on the novella. For example I am definitely going to read “The Year of Weddings” series once they arrive in paperback form, however another you used as an example (Robin Lee Hatcher), I probably won’t bother with. Much as I’ve enjoyed her books, I just don’t feel a “need” to read it.

    The biggest “con” for me is, as you said, the lack of character development. Sometimes I don’t feel like there is enough in a full-length novel, so… that usually suggests its ten times as hard in novella length. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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    1. I know what you mean, Rissi. The Year of Weddings, I think, have an amazing line-up of authors, and I like that it is a series. But with the stand-alone novellas, I can see myself passing those up, too. Even if you do like an author, it can be hard to keep up with all the little things they write (novels, novellas, book series, blog posts…..it all adds up!). And we only have a limited amount of time to devote to reading, so I think it’s important to make wise choices in our reading :).

      Oh, yes, character development! It can be so frustrating to read a full-length novel that can’t pull this off. When you finish a book, you want to be able to clearly see the arc of growth a character went on, see how they changed, so when a character is still flat by the end, what a disappointment! My opinion: chose your novellas VERY carefully!

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    2. I know just what you mean!
      I always kick myself when I find out I could have waited six weeks to buy three or four stories in one book for just a bit more $$.
      Though I do appreciate the opportunity to introduce myself to a new author without committing to the full price a novel carries. (Used bookstores are great for that too though.)

      On the second point, Yes it is rare to find a novella with enough character development.
      That’s why I stick primarily to the ones such as “An Amish Garden” – where you follow the characters through 4 continuing stories.
      The novellas that go along with a story that is already developed are usually a good read because you’re already familiar with the characters. You can devote 90% of the novel to the story in those cases because most people who read it already know the characters and the 10% tease you put in makes everyone else want to read the main novels.

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