Two Novellas or One Novel?

"TUESDAY" production sign

“TUESDAY” production sign (Photo credit: Vaguely Artistic)

So I have this time travel novella, You Died on Tuesday, that I wrote four years ago and almost had published. It’s at the low end of the scale for a novella, at about 18,000 words. To make it novel length, I need to add at least 22,000 words, to bring it up to a total of 40,000 words, the lowest word count that qualifies as a novel.

Originally, I had planned to write another novella about the events that occurred after the end of You Died on Tuesday. It would be long enough that when I combine the two novellas, I should have something of novel length. So that’s the current plan. But I’m starting to have doubts. Maybe I should go back to the original plan, publishing the two novellas separately. I’m wondering what other authors would do. If you had a novella written and were working on a follow-up novella, would you publish them separately, or combine them into a short novel?

I’m looking at this question from a couple different angles. There’s the most important question of which approach would get me the most readers. There’s the question of which approach might earn me the most money. While I don’t have any delusions of striking it rich from writing 40,000 words (ha ha), I could use any little penny I might earn right now.

What other angles should I consider?

Am I thinking about this too much? Does anyone have any suggestions for me, some sagely words of wisdom, or even just opinions? All comments welcome!

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Two Novellas or One Novel?

  1. atroll

    Emiliah, I think the novel is the better way to go. Don’t combine them into one. As they are two complete stories with rising and falling action, make them into a 2 part novel. Lengthen each of them if you can without padding it all too much. Make the link between them very strong, so strong that the first one doesn’t really resolve without the second one.
    As for making money from fiction, unless you’re really lucky, don’t count on it. My fiction hasn’t made me any. Gaming has, but the pure fiction–no. Do it because you want to do it. Desire is your motivation, not money.
    –Ken St. Andre

  2. Oh my, I am blushing. Ken St. Andre himself commenting on my blog! It is an honor I never anticipated but am so happy to receive.

    Give me a moment to compose myself.

    Thank you for the advice, Ken. I was leaning towards the novel option, and I feel better about it knowing that a professional in the field thinks the same way. I’m not confident enough in my own judgment when it comes to writing.

    I dearly want to be a full-time author, and that’s where I have deep concerns about money. If I could write all the time, not charging for my writing but still able to live, I would do it, because I really love writing. For now, writing will have to remain a part-time job, but I’m committed to really focus on writing this year and see how far I can go with it even though it will be part time.

    I wouldn’t rule out game writing as a part of my efforts this year. I’m just not sure how good I’d be at game writing. I enjoy the T&T solo games and have often imagined writing one. I already have an offer from a friend who will help me edit and play test if I write one. Do you think there would be much interest in a time travel T&T solo? I wonder just how difficult a time travel solo would be to write.

    Thank you again, Ken, for your advice. It truly is an honor to have your words grace my blog.

  3. grandpachet

    You’re really asking two questions here, whether you know it or not. The first question? Well, let’s number the questions, just because it helps me keep track and because an outline always looks cool.

    1. Will it help or hurt the story (stories)?
    2. Is there a market for short fiction?

    Question #2 might be the more important. If a story isn’t read, does it even count as a story?
    In our busy, busy, busy lifestyles of today, too many people haven’t the time (or skills) to relax. If they have time to read, they want it to be their favorite type (sf, mystery, romance, etc) and they want to be able to finish it without coming back to it months later and wonder where they left off.
    This is a need that I think publishers are not filling, and so people turn to the internet and fan (or fan-like) zines.

    Question #1 is something only you can answer. Will combining the stories weaken each story’s point(s) or premise? Do they each have a separate point or premise? If not, combine away. If combining them would weaken individual points or premises, be very careful. A novel CAN have several points, but keeping them balanced is (Pun Alert!) a balancing act which takes a lot of practice as well as talent.

    • Hey, Grandpa! Thank you for your feedback. One reason why I’d thought two novellas would be better than one novel was that it might be easier to get readers for a novella than for a novel. I know about busy lives, and my personal choices for leisure reading of late has continually drifted to novellas and shorter novels. But I think the combination of the two novellas will still be relatively short, especially for a novel.

      My first novella is a complete story to itself. I would have no problem releasing it as it is. It’s the second novella I’m concerned about releasing as a novella instead of the second half of a novel. Releasing it as a separate novella might require too much rehashing of the events of the first novella for the second novella to stand on its own. That would perhaps be fine for those readers who didn’t read the first novella before the second one, but readers of the first novella might find the rehashed material tedious when reading the second novella. I’d have to be careful how I worked in the repeated material from the first novella. Releasing them both together relieves me of the need to rehash material.

      So I think I’m still of the mind that it would be best to release both novellas together in much the way that Ken describes. The finished product will still be relatively short, so readers should be able to complete the novel in a relatively short time. It’s even quite possible that the combination of the two will be less than 40,000 words, in which case I’d still be at novella length!

  4. Pingback: The Book Case: Return Of The Novella | Wilson K.

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