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Does Size Matter?

April 5, 2010

This week’s topic is short stories and we’ve got author Kerri Nelson (who also writes a YA line under K.G. Summers) here this week as a guest blogger to share her thoughts on the subject. I met this multi-published author this past fall when we were in a not one, but two, contests together. Kerri recently received a contract with a New York publisher from participating in one contest and her future looks brighter by the day. She manages not only her own blog, one designed to give author’s sales a boost, but has a side business designing book trailers as well.

So, basically the question is… does size matter?  At least when we are talking about the novel versus the novella, I believe the answer is a resounding “YES”!

What is a novella?

According to Wikipedia, a novella is shorter than a novel but longer than a novelette.  HUH?

In my experience, a novella is typically anywhere from 10,000 words to 40,000 words as a general rule.  Yet, in Young Adult fiction, a 40,000-word manuscript is considered a full length novel in that genre.  Then, a short while back, I pitched a 65,000-word historical manuscript to an agent and she referred to it as a “novella”.  Again, I say “HUH?”

As it turns out, the idea of what makes up a novella is a wide and varied concept in the world of publishing.  I’ve written quite a few novellas and they range in word count from 8,000 words to 25,000 words.

Besides the length, the main difference between my novellas and my novels is the complexity of the plot and the lack of multiple subplots in a novella.

Should you write one?

I, personally, find them incredibly fun to write.  In fact, I’ve already agreed to make several of mine into a continuing series of novellas.  I enjoy writing them because they represent a highly achievable short term goal.  The proverbial light at the end of the tunnel doesn’t seem so far away when you start out knowing that this will be a short story.

Plus, they are in high demand with quite a few e-book publishers.  If you’re new to writing and/or seeking a quicker path to publication—I highly recommend pursuing completion of a novella.

Who wants to read these things anyway?

As a reader, I find that sometimes a simple and satisfying plot is all I need to quench my thirst for a good book.  Let’s face it… with our hectic lives these days… we don’t always have time to read a full-length book.  I find that I can fly through a novella either on my computer or on my e-book reader in record time.

I equate it to having an in between meal snack.  It is a satisfying treat that can hold you over until you can get your next full novel fix!

Who wants to win a copy of one of mine?

Want to try a taste of a short story that I’ve penned for Whispers Publishing?  Today, I’m giving away a copy of my book entitled “The Saucy Celt”.  It is a contemporary romance short set in the majestic Green Isle of Ireland.

I’ll give away a free copy of this novella to one participant today.  All you have to do is leave a question or comment for me here at the blog today AND promise to write me and tell me your honest opinion of the book after you’ve read it!

Thanks to W W and the mega talented, C.J. Ellisson, for hosting my appearance here today.

Thanks for joining us, Kerri. I look forward to watching your progress this coming year and your release of Courting Demons with Dorchester Publishing in 2011!

More about Kerri:

Kerri Nelson has always been passionate about reading books but when she wrote her first poem in the second grade, she discovered her love of writing.  At the age of sixteen, she became a columnist for her local newspaper as the high school correspondent for the weekly “Panther Tales” column.  She won the Outstanding Young Journalist of the Year Award for her efforts.

After an education and career in the legal field, Kerri began to pen romantic suspense novels with a legal or law enforcement theme.  She is a true southern belle and comes complete with her dashing southern gentleman husband and three adorable children.  When she’s not reading or writing, you’ll find her baking homemade goodies for her family, feeding her addiction to blogging online or designing custom made book trailers.  Kerri is an active member of Romance Writers of America as well as numerous Chapters including Gothic Romance Writers,  Futuristic Fantasy & Paranormal, and Celtic Hearts Romance Writers.

Kerri is a multi-published author of romance in every genre from romantic suspense and paranormal to young adult and inspirational novels.  In 2009, Kerri wrote and sold twelve books to multiple publishers using her Book Factory method.  Her latest paranormal romantic suspense “Courting Demons” will release from Dorchester Publishing in 2011.

For the latest news and updates from Kerri, follow her on Twitter here:

The Wicked team will be holding a unique contest this month. We’re asking our readers to try their own hand at short stories.  Entrants submit a non-erotica short story under 3,000 words to by April 20th, 2010. First prize is to have your entry critiqued by three members on the team, the story will be posted here on the site, and you’ll be invited to guest blog with us in May! Second prize is a critique by two team members and to also have the story posted here on the site. Third prize will be one critique and an honorable mention.

Write on, everyone!

33 Comments leave one →
  1. Julie Hayes permalink
    April 5, 2010 8:48 am

    I think that you can do a lot with a little, and that some novellas pack a greater punch than some novels. So I guess that translates to it’s not the size, it’s what you do with it.

    I promise to not only give you my opinion, I’ll write an actual review of it. Thanks for the chance to win your book!

    • April 5, 2010 11:44 am

      Julie H~

      Thanks so much for stopping by this bright and early Monday morning! Your comment is spot on…I couldn’t agree more.

      In fact, in recent years I’ve tried unsuccessfully to get caught up on my TBR pile. One of the methods I’ve employed is to actually STOP reading a book if it doesn’t keep my interest. Life is just too short to keep plodding through something just for the sake of finishing it. With novellas, I rarely have this problem. Another bonus!

      I appreciate the offer of a review! I love reader reviews & would love to hear what you think.


  2. Andrea I permalink
    April 5, 2010 9:44 am

    I enjoy novels as well as novellas. I agree that it’s nice to sit down and fly through a novella when time is short.

    • April 5, 2010 11:46 am

      Andrea I~

      Good to see you at the WW blog today! Thanks for your comment. Time is so limited in my life these days–when I get the chance to read I love to be able to actually finish it before life interrupts!

      Take care,

  3. valerie ann anzalone spring permalink
    April 5, 2010 9:59 am

    This is for the contest that kerri nelson is doing. I really appreciated your insight on what is or what is not a novella. I am hoping to one day see my own writing published, but I do not seem to be able to get a full book out. At least not at one time. I think I will try my hand at a novella. Thank you.

    • April 5, 2010 11:48 am

      Valerie Ann~

      I believe in you! If you want it bad enough–it can and will happen for you. Best of luck with penning a novella. There’s always a great sense of accomplishment when you complete any size novel. Please stay in touch and let me know how it turns out, won’t you?

      My best,

  4. April 5, 2010 10:18 am

    Great post Keri.

    Writing shorter and making the plot & romance work in such a short word count can be challenging and fun.

    • April 5, 2010 11:50 am


      Hello there! Thanks for stopping by and giving me a shout out!

      I couldn’t agree more. Writing a neat, little novella can be very fun. Sometimes those large word count goals that loom over your head can stifle creativity!

      Happy Monday,

  5. April 5, 2010 10:44 am

    I’m working on my first full-length novel, about 60% through the first draft, but I have my first novella coming out this month. It is fun to write to short and according to my critique partners, I pack a lot of story into them so hopefully they’re as satisfying to read as a novel. Great post.

    • April 5, 2010 11:53 am


      I like your name! It sounds very cool. I actually have a character named Riley in one of my yet to be released books.

      Congrats on your upcoming release. I know how exciting that must be for you. I’m looking forward to hearing more about it.

      Thanks for the comment!


  6. April 5, 2010 10:45 am

    Hey Kerri! My question is, I am currently writing a YA novel, do you think that the younger audience (teens or tweens) are more interested in shorter stories or in full lengths?

    Great post BTW!!!!!


    • April 5, 2010 11:58 am

      Andrea S~

      How are you, my friend? Great to see you and thanks for blogging with me today and always.

      I think you are right on about the YA audience. I believe that they prefer the shorter length books in order to keep with their very active social life and very short attention span. However, I do think that they are getting more and more into series books. Those seem to be all the rage.

      Biggest hugs,

  7. JOYE permalink
    April 5, 2010 10:57 am

    Enjoyed reading thecomments and looking forward to reading the book. I am always looking for new authors to read. My question for Kerri is Do you read the dialogue aloud to see if it sounds right or that someone would actually say it?

    • April 5, 2010 12:40 pm


      Thanks for hanging with me today at WW! Interesting question you had in your comment…I don’t normally read my dialogue out loud because I can clearly hear my characters talking in my head. BUT there have been times when I’ve gotten stuck on a scene and reading it out loud does help get things flowing again. So, there is definite benefit to that.

      I once had a writing class instructor tell me that if you read your entire scene out loud and it flows smoothly without you having to stumble or struggle to get it out–then you know you’ve got a well written scene.

      Food for thought.

      My best,

  8. April 5, 2010 10:57 am

    I love short forms and enjoy the challenge of writing a tight story.

    Anna T.S.

    • April 5, 2010 12:42 pm

      Anna TS~

      Howdy, hon! So glad to see you here and I’m looking forward to hanging with you in my legal/law enforcement class. 🙂

      One thing I’m not particularly good at is this flash fiction stuff. Have you tried that? Those are stories that are usually 1000 words or less! I’m just way too wordy for those. I’ve only written one and it was a real challenge!


  9. April 5, 2010 11:13 am

    Interesting post, Kerri, and thanks for dropping by to guest blog! I love to sit in bed and read a short novel in the evening, especially when reading horror.

    Good luck, everyone, on winning Kerri’s book!

    • April 5, 2010 12:45 pm

      Hey WJ~

      Honored and thrilled to be here at the home of the wickedly talented! Thanks for having me.

      A little bed time novella snack, eh? Now you’re talking!

      My motto (in the words of bestselling author Roxanne St. Claire): “I always go to bed with a good cook or a good book.”

      Hubby just so happens to be a fantastic cook–so I can’t lose with either option here! LOL

      Take care,

  10. susan leech permalink
    April 5, 2010 11:59 am

    I like a story long or short. I read both and so size does not matter to me. If I was to win a copy of your novelle I sure will let you know my thoughts on it and send you comments back. I love doing that and have been reviewer for some books in the past. susan L.

    • April 5, 2010 12:47 pm

      Susan L~~

      There’s my dear friend! Thanks for your comments today. I can always count on you. 🙂

      I’m sure I owe you at least ONE of my books by now anyway. I’d love to hear your thoughts on any of them.


  11. April 5, 2010 2:15 pm

    Hi Kerri,

    I enjoyed your post – it’s great to have you guesting here on WW. Thank you.

    I think that it is a shame – certainly here in the UK – that there is generally little promotion of the short story form beyond its use in competition formats. Just possibly, however, the increasing time pressure that we all face and the growth in popularity of the e-book format, might add new life to the form. I think it is an excellent format for encouraging recognition of new talent, and it would be great to see the increased use of short story collections and novellas to persuade a browsing reader to try new authors.

    Good luck with the publishing contract – I hope it takes you from strength to strength!

    • April 5, 2010 4:10 pm

      Good evening David~~

      How are things across the pond? 🙂

      Thanks for the lovely comment and you made a fantastic point! The novellas do give readers an affordable way to check out many new authors. In keeping with my food analogies–these can be seen as both in between meal snacks or as you’ve suggested an appetizer before bigger meals to come.

      I hope to bring many of my novella reader/fans with me to my full length novels of the future.

      I truly appreciate your kind words and encouragement. Much gratitude for the opportunity.


  12. April 5, 2010 5:59 pm

    Kerri –

    Great blog. I love reading novellas, and I applaud authors who can write them. I don’t know that I could ever be one of them, however. I tend to be a lot wordier than that. 🙂

    • April 5, 2010 6:17 pm


      Thanks for stopping by! I totally agree and understand. I tried my hand at a couple of flash fiction contests last year (1K to 2K word limits) and I pretty much stunk at those!

      I just couldn’t figure out how to make it good and make it THAT short! I also had 2 Christmas novellas that I wrote for one of my publishers last year that were supposed to be 7500K or shorter per the publisher’s request. Mine were 8000K and 9500K respectively! LOL

      Nothing wrong with being wordy, IMHO. 🙂


  13. April 5, 2010 8:10 pm

    I love writing novellas. It’s a challenge to get a complete story (and my case a dead body or two) in such a small word count. But I love the challenge. Wonderful post. Congratulations and best of luck with your new contract with Dorcester.

    • April 6, 2010 7:08 am

      Hey Nina!

      I’m thrilled that you stopped by to leave a comment! I love your work & appreciate your continued support of both me and the Book Boost Blog!

      I believe that the key to a successful novella is just that—cramming all the necessary elements into a shorter package. Sometimes a real challenge (for those of us, like me, who are extremely wordy) but always a blast!

      See you around the blogs soon!

      Biggo hugs,

  14. Barbara Ellison permalink
    April 5, 2010 11:26 pm

    Hi Kerri,
    i enjoyed your post. I have to admit I am a reader and not a writer. I think it takes a very special person to weave a story and I’m just not that gifted. But without us readers there wouldn’t be a need for the story tellers. Congratulations on your success as a writer. I know it has been a lot of hard work to get where you are.

    • April 6, 2010 7:10 am

      Barbara E.~

      Your comment was lovely and guess what?

      I LOVE READERS! I’ve been a bookworm my entire life and I’m sure that it was this love of reading that lead me to writing in the first place. Heck, they even say that the more your read–the better you write. Unfortunately, I don’t have as much time to read lately as I did before I became a writer.

      So glad that you express your love of books and be proud to be a fan of romance–it is a kick butt genre!

      My best,

  15. April 6, 2010 7:19 am

    Well, we made it to Tuesday and the week rolls onward. I just had to stop by bright and early this morning to leave some closing comments.

    First of all, sincere heartfelt gratitude to my friend CJ (I’m lucky to know you, my dear). I appreciate all your support, encouragement, and willingness to “be there” for me through the past months that we’ve known one another. I appreciate the opportunity to make an appearance here at your amazing blog. Thanks to all the WW bloggers for sharing your space with me!

    Secondly, thanks to everyone who came out to comment and participate yesterday. It meant so much to me that we had such a fabulous turn out. I enjoyed meeting and chatting with each one of you. I believe that I responded to everyone, but if I missed you…it was certainly not intentional. Hope you’ll stay in touch!

    Last but not least, I’ve had my 2 year old assistant (early bird–insomniac kid) draw a winner at random from all of yesterday’s posts. The winner will receive a free copy of my short, sexy novella “The Saucy Celt”. Please contact me via the Contact page on my website to claim your prize!

    AND…the winner is…JOYE!

    Congrats and have a wonderful day everyone!

    Blessing to all,

    • April 6, 2010 8:21 am

      Thanks for the excellent blog and all your comments to our posters, Kerri!

      Right back ‘atcha, kiddo. You’ve been there through some dark moments for me and helped me rise above the pettiness of others. I’m sincerely glad to have made your acquaintance and can call you a friend.

      And by next year, I’ll be able to say “I knew her when…” 😉


  16. April 6, 2010 9:46 am

    I am an author and wrote LONG contemporary romances for nearly three years without a sale. With no luck selling a full-length manuscript, I decided to try writing a short one. Tough to do! Get all that plot, characterization, romance, bad guys, location descriptions, etc. in 30,000 words? Well, I did it, and sold the manuscript IN TWO WEEKS. Guess I’ll be trying that again.

  17. April 16, 2010 8:38 pm

    I write a lot of novellas and short stories as my pseudonym. I love them. In fact, I need to work on a couple this weekend.


  1. The Short of It « By W. J. Howard

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