How Long is a Novella? And How Do You Query Agents For Them?

If you're worried that your novella may not be up to snuff, Chuck Sambuchino has the answers for you!
Author:
Publish date:

Q. What is the average length of a novella? And is it "pitched" to literary agents the same way novels are 'pitched'? - Gene

(Novel and Short Story Word Counts)

A. Novellas generally run 20,000-50,000 words. About 30,000 words are average. While this number of words would be very common when pitching a nonfiction text, such a length reminds me of tennis lessons in my youth. My coach would tell me to stand at the backline to volley or approach the net, but never to float in between the areas, because that was "no man's land."

That's what a novella feels like to me: "no man's land." Very much too long to be a short story, and very much too short to be a novel.

How Long is a Novella? And How Do You Query Agents For Them?

Concerning how to pitch it, Gene, my first advice is to expand it into a novel-length work (at least 80,000 words). If that's not a possibility, then you can simply look for the few agents out there who do represent things such as novellas and short story collections, then try them. You would query the same way and the work needs to be finished and polished before you do. The odds of success here are very, very small. My best candid advice is to finish this novella and stick it in a drawer. Then write a few novels, get them published, and gather a moderately loyal readership. When you do, a publisher will release your novella in a small print run and your loyal readers will gobble it up. Everyone wins.

How to Plot and Structure Your Novel

Plot and structure are two of the most important elements of fiction. In order to write a work of fiction that will keep your readers glued to the page, mastering these elements is essential. This on-demand online workshop will teach you how to structure your novel and develop an enticing plot that will keep readers wanting more.

Click to continue.

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Chasing Trends

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Chasing Trends

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so this series helps identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake is chasing trends in writing and publishing.

Lessons Learned From Self-Publishing My Picture Book

Lessons Learned From Self-Publishing My Picture Book

Author Dawn Secord shares her journey toward self-publishing a picture book featuring her Irish Setter named Bling.

Poetic Forms

Crown of Sonnets: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the crown of sonnets, a form that brings together seven sonnets in a special way.

25 Ways Reflective Writing Can Help You Grow as a Writer (and as a Person)

25 Ways Reflective Writing Can Help You Grow as a Writer (And as a Person)

Reflective writing—or journaling—is a helpful practice in helping understand ourselves, and by extensions, the stories we intend to write. Author Jeanne Baker Guy offers 25 ways reflective writing can help you grow as a writer (and as a person).

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Being Followed

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Being Followed

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, let your character know they're being followed.

Amanda Jayatissa: On Spiraling Out in Suspense

Amanda Jayatissa: On Spiraling Out in Suspense

Author Amanda Jayatissa discusses the fun of writing "deliciously mean" characters in her psychological thriller, My Sweet Girl.

3 Tips for Writing a Memoir Everyone Wants to Read

3 Tips for Writing a Memoir Everyone Wants to Read

A memoir is an open window into another's life—and although the truth is of paramount importance, so too is grabbing hold of its reader. Writer Tasha Keeble offers 3 tips for writing a memoir everyone will want to read.

Zoe Whittall: On Personal Change in Literary Fiction

Zoe Whittall: On Personal Change in Literary Fiction

Bestselling and Giller Prize-shortlisted author Zoe Whittal discusses the complexity of big life decisions in her new novel, The Spectacular.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 582

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a transition poem.