[LMB] truth in labeling puzzle

Lois McMaster Bujold lbujold at myinfmail.com
Wed Oct 19 15:05:04 BST 2016

So, as has been indicated here, the new Penric novella is done, 
undergoing final tidying.  (A goal with moving posts, always.)

Soon, I am going to have to figure out what to put on the cover besides 
my name and the story's title.  The prior two entries in what is 
developing into this series-in-miniature were labeled "A novella in the 
world of the five gods", but... this one came out at 45,000 words.

Technically, a novella is capped at 40,000 words.  45k words isn't even 
half the current market weight for a novel.  The thing was certainly 
written with the _intent_ to be a novella, and should read and be read 
like one.  But it now falls between two stools.

So _technically_ it maybe should be labeled "A short novel in the world 
of the five gods", but I wonder if readers not up on the nuances of 
literary length labels would be misled.  I had trouble enough the last 
two times out with complaints from readers who went blasting carelessly 
into the tales expecting a novel, either because they paid no attention 
to the subtitling or because they didn't know what the term "novella" 
meant, which a lot of people don't.  On the other hand, that audience 
may be becoming trained by now.

Putting the word count out prominently won't help with the careless, 
because they normally think of books in page count if they think at 
all.  (Most people not in the trade don't think in terms of word counts 
enough to translate them into reading expectations.)

So my options are

A novella in the world of the five gods  (incorrect)

A short novel in the world of the five gods  (correct but confusing)

A story in the world of the five gods  (ducking the issue)



Ta, L.

More information about the Lois-Bujold mailing list