Novel or Novella- You tell me?

From what I can tell a novella is defined as anything that is less than 40,000 words.   Since there are approximately 300 words on a page we can say that most novellas will be under 130 pages, give or take.  Up until recently I found myself very reluctant to read a novella.  It didn’t matter if my favorite author wrote the book, if it had novella attached anywhere to it, I stayed away.  I had a perception that you couldn’t do in a novella what you can in a novel; that they lacked a depth of story, emotion and didn’t have enough time to allow me to form a connection to the characters.

Something has happened in 2103 though that has caused me to rethink my position on the novella.  Price points on books changed, or so it seemed, and books became cheaper.  We have been able to find a lot of really good books for $2.99 and under.  With that $2.99 pricing however came fewer pages so I have forced to adapt to this new trend.

Adapting turned out to be the best thing I could have done.  It re-introduced me to the novella and some truly great authors that blew through all of my arguments as to why I couldn’t possibly like a novella.  Whereas before I thought something had to be sacrificed in order to keep the book under that magical word count, I no longer think that.  I have been exposed to some fabulous novellas recently that have everything a full length novel can offer.  These novellas have brilliant plot, emotional depth, plenty of sexin’ and I love their pricing.

Here are some recent novellas I have read that exceeded my expectations:

Big Boy by Ruthie Knox
Ticket Home by Serena Bell
Play With Me by Alisha Rai
The Story Guy by Mary Ann Rivers
Willing Victim by Cara McKenna
Deep Desires by Charlotte Stein
Burden by Annmarie McKenna
Frat Boy and Toppy by Anne Tenino (this one is a little longer than 130 pages but shorter than full novel)

So what about you?  How do you feel about the novella?  Have you had a change of heart like I have?  Are you as satisfied when you finish one as you are when you finish a full length novel?  Do you have any good recommendations to give us?

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  1. Evie says

    The tricky part of this discussion is that the page count that Amazon gives is inaccurate, frequently undercutting the page count by as much as 50 pages. So Willing Victim is a novel (barely, but it is), as is Deep Desires. It’s still totally reasonable to discuss these in the realm of “short fiction” but this discrepancy can confuse pricing if they are priced more in line with a novel than a novella. It’s also frustrating because the page count of a Big 5/6 novel tends to be correct (and matching the print version), whereas a self published book or one with certain small publishers will have the false accounting. I really wish that Amazon would use word count or at least fix their page count issue, so that readers can know what they’re getting.

  2. says

    I, like you have come to love short fiction or whatever label you want to put on it. There have been some authors who manage to write very satisfying stories in a shorter format which I’m come to appreciate during the busier times in life.

    Price is always an issue whether is short or long fiction. You have 400 page books at .99 cents as well as novellas at that price. I’ve discovered many authors because of bargain pricing and some, because of their stellar writing, will get my money in the future even if they are selling their books at higher prices. I’m willing to pay for quality.

  3. Amanda says

    My first introduction to novellas happened years ago in some anthologies. At the time I was not a fan. They seemed little more than samples of the authors style and the stories were not that strong. I think its different now, novellas have become a medium all their own. The stories have become meater and more authors seem to have a talent for them. I will always prefer novel to novella but I am no longer dismayed when I hear that the couples story I have waited for will be told in a novella instead of a novel.

    I also agree with Evie the way Amazon counts its pages is beyond frustrating.

  4. says

    Great post! I never know what is technically a novella or not. What is a short story? Is that the same as a novella? I have no clue. I just read and review. LOL

    But for me, I’ll pay whatever to read something from a favorite author like Abi Roux or Lauren Dane regardless of price vs. # of pages. But I admit for an author I’m not familiar with, I will examine the # of pages vs price and hesitate. But if someone is on twitter raving about a novella, I often buy even if it is upwards of $4.

    Willing Victim. *sigh* one of my all-time favorites.

  5. says

    I really enjoy novellas. As Sophia said above, they’re perfect for getting satisfying reads with limited time. Novellas let me pick books over TV. The price is great too. One thing though, I have higher expectations for full-length novels now. If I can read a novella and feel perfectly satisfied, I need justification for 350+ pages. Unnecessary drama or plot points (if they’re not entertaining/funny) drive me bonkers. In the past I wouldn’t have given it as much thought.

    The amazon thing is crazy. I can’t remember what I bought but it told me something was 130 pages and it ended up being significantly more than that. As I was reading I kept scratching my head and saying “Shouldn’t this be over now?” (clearly it wasn’t very good).

  6. says

    As I was reading I kept scratching my head and saying “Shouldn’t this be over now?” (clearly it wasn’t very good).

    I’ve been there, done that. LOL

  7. says

    Great food for thought! I’m a big fan of novellas, particularly for those days when you don’t have the time or mental capacity to dedicate to a full-length book. That said, there are few authors who can really do a novella well and give it the emotional punch and character development of a full-length novel. I agree that Ruthie Knox does it well, and I think Courtney Milan is also fantastic. Eloisa James can usually pull it off, and I have to say that I loved Sarah Mayberry’s ‘Her Favorite Temptation.’ Again, it felt like a true novel.