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Q&A

In 2021, which publishers distribute novellas?

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The Hugo awards are prominent fan awards in the SF&F genre. In 2021, I noticed that all of the finalists in the Novella category are from a single publisher, Tor.com. Novellas have, I understand, historically been harder to market than either novels or short stories, though I don't know if that's changed as e-books have become more prominent. Tor actively promotes its content online, and I see a novella that they gave away for free last year among the nominees.

Thinking back on my own reading over the last year, all of the novellas I've read came from either Tor or independent publishers who probably don't have Tor's reach. I don't know if this is because I'm not noticing other publishers or because that's pretty much the current distribution (at least within SF&F).

In 2021, who is publishing novellas? What does the distribution look like? If I wanted to get my novella out there, is Tor the de facto single publisher, or are there other viable options that just didn't happen to make the Hugo ballot this year? Is there data, grouped by publisher, on the distribution of recent novellas?

(Assume that my goal is to have people read my work, not to maximize income.)

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My information is all of the negative variety, but in all the research I have done over the years on publishers and agents I have never seen one that wanted novellas. The novella always was, I believe, an artefact of long magazine fiction, which was enormously popular before the advent of TV and radio. Print publication of novellas is not an economically attractive proposition for publishers. I don't know how the costs break down, but I imagine it has to do with people expecting to pay by the pound while things like handling costs and design as just as high for a novella as a novel.

There was supposed to be a new dawn for the novella in the age of digital publishing, where the costs issues were largely moot, but I'm not sure if it really happened. I suspect that with self published ebooks so cheap and plentiful, people may have felt cheated if they bought a 99 cent ebook and found it was only 90 pages long.

There is also the factor that readers have to be enculturated to any art form to a certain extent, before they can fully appreciate and enjoy it, and very few people are enculturated to the novella anymore. People want novels because they are used to novels.

In short, I doubt there are many, if any, publishers looking for novellas these days.

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So having said all that, it turns out that my publisher publishes novellas. https://chrismpress.com/books/magdalen-montague/

This may perhaps be something that small presses, particularly those that seek to serve a particular purpose, are willing to do.

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