The long and short of it

Lady Em's Indiscretion - New CoverI’m hopeful that I’ll be able to get back to writing soon, and when I do, I’ll probably work on a novella. I haven’t had anything “new” out since last April, when I reissued a heavily revised version of Lord Langdon’s Kiss, so I’d like to get more work out there as quickly as I can. That means novellas, in this case, a prequel and sequel to Lady Em’s Indiscretion.

It takes me a long time to develop a full-length book—more than just 3-4 times the length it takes to write a novella. It takes me longer to deal with the complexities of more characters and subplots. Long books are still my absolute favorite both to read and write.

Novellas are fun to write, though, and they go more quickly, not having all of the complications I mentioned above. I enjoy reading them, too. Since they usually focus more closely on the hero and heroine, there’s a certain intimacy to well-written novellas, kind of like chamber music compared to orchestral music. A friend also called my novellas “bon-bons”, which is another fun way to look at it.

However, I’ve had a few readers complain about the length. Even at 99 cents, they were expecting a full-length novel and apparently did not notice the word “novella”, which is on the cover and also in the description along with a word count. I’ve heard this happens to other authors, and we’re all stumped as to how to make the length more clear. I suspect there are readers who buy inexpensive titles on impulse and don’t know what they bought until they start reading.

I’ve also heard of complaints if the digital version of a novella is priced more than 99 cents. Since I personally know the time and work that goes into a novella, I wouldn’t balk at a well-written novella being priced at $2.99 or $3.99, especially from an established author. But of course every reader has the right to make purchasing choices based on her own budget and preferences.

My own novellas are currently priced at 99 cents. My strategy has been to encourage new readers to take a chance on me, in the hope that they might go on to buy my full-length books. However, Amazon’s pricing tool is encouraging me to price my novellas at $2.99. It’s also telling me to use the same price for my full-length Regencies.  That doesn’t seem right to me and would probably annoy readers, so I’ll always price my novellas less than my full-length books.

As for full-length books, I don’t generally want to support the notion that they should have a regular price of 99 cents. I make an exception for introductory prices and special sales. That is the beauty of digital publishing—one can afford to do that—but full length books are such a huge project that I think they should have a regular price that reflects the work that went into them. Even though I’m tickled when a reader tells me she stayed up and read a whole book in one night, I can’t help remembering that it took me a year or so to write it!

What do you think? Do you prefer novellas, long, meaty books, or something in between? Any opinions on e-book pricing?


About Elena Greene

Elena Greene grew up reading anything she could lay her hands on, including her mother's Georgette Heyer novels. She also enjoyed writing but decided to pursue a more practical career in software engineering. Fate intervened when she was sent on a three year international assignment to England, where she was inspired to start writing romances set in the Regency. Her books have won the National Readers' Choice Award, the Desert Rose Golden Quill and the Colorado Romance Writers' Award of Excellence. Her Super Regency, LADY DEARING'S MASQUERADE, won RT Book Club's award for Best Regency Romance of 2005 and made the Kindle Top 100 list in 2011. When not writing, Elena enjoys swimming, cooking, meditation, playing the piano, volunteer work and craft projects. She lives in upstate New York with her two daughters and more yarn, wire and beads than she would like to admit.
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ki pha
ki pha
7 years ago

You will get back to writing soon! The creative mind will being you a good one.
Read a good book to help you maybe? Or just think about wild crazy things that a character might want to do or did?

I adore novellas! Especially when I have little time to read now days they help me actually finish a book. But not just that, they sometime feature couples that won’t have a full length novel or keep us up to date with former full length couples. As for long meaty reads…I haven’t done those since I first started reading romances, about 8 years ago maybe??? It’s not that I haven’t found any it’s just that 1) I either don’t want to read long stories or 2) there aren’t many long stories being published now. So I see myself with the ones in between which I love because they’re not too short or too long.

E-books…..I’m not much of an e-reader since I love my prints but I do have to read them for other purposes. But I do like novellas to be on the 99 cent side. I do go for the $1.99 and $2.99 novellas sometimes because of certain authors I enjoy but mostly I’ll see novellas as a 99 cent deal. But as for full E-books I think being around $3.99-$6.99 is fine. But then I would get the print if it’s $6.99. But then it all depends on of its only in e-book form then I’ll have to think about purchasing it at its e-price.

mary ellen
mary ellen
7 years ago

I love both! If it’s a miserable day then a novel is good. If I’m busy but need a few a hour of peace to myself than a novella works!! Love you books Elena! !!!!

Satu M.
Satu M.
7 years ago

I prefer full lenght novels to novellas and always check the word count before purchasing a book to avoid disappointment. Novellas tend to leave craving for more and since there usually isn’t I feel disappointed. I usually only buy novellas by my favorite authors when I have run out of their full length novels. I’m glad to hear you’re working on expanding Lady Em’s indiscretion. I’ll save that one for when prequel and sequel are out. I have been trying to decide which of your novellas to try first. 😀

Satu from Finland

Satu M.
Satu M.
7 years ago
Reply to  Elena Greene

Thank you Elena! The Wedding Wager it is then. 😀

7 years ago

I love novellas and anthologies of novellas when I read on my breaks at work. They are generally written tightly enough that I can get through one during two breaks and an hour lunch. I love holiday novellas especially. I have a collection of Regency Christmas anthologies I drag out every year to keep me in the holiday spirit whilst working the holidays at Walmart. Shudder!

I read far more print books than I do e books, but if e book is the only way I an acquire a book I really want to read I will click that buy button in a heartbeat!

And I know your next books are going to be wonderful !

Heidi Kneale (Her Grace)

My publisher has priced my novellas at 1.99. I’m questioning whether that’s too steep, but I don’t have any say in what my publisher sets as price.

However, if I put up an indie novella, I’d either go .99 or even permafree, if I had full-length novels up at price, in hopes that the permafree will help drive sales. It’s all about marketing strategy.

I haven’t indie published any full-lengths yet (but will by the end of the year). Depending on novel length, I’m thinking 2.99-3.99, which seems to be the Sweet Spot for sales.

I’ve got some epic-sized novels (ie 150K words) that I’m considering placing at 4.99

But yeah. Anything less than 40k? .99 or lower.