Tia Nevitt blogs over at the fantastic Debuts & Reviews. Her story, The Sevenfold Spell, a retelling of Sleeping Beauty from the point of view of an ordinary girl whose livelihood is destroyed along with the spinning wheels, is being released by Carina Press. To celebrate, Tia is on a pajama party blog tour and she’s stopping here today to talk about novellas, post an excerpt and give away an e-copy to a commenter!
Thanks, Rabia, for having me at your blog. I’m aiming this post toward writers because I know Rabia has a lot of writerly readers. For previous installments of this blog tour, and to read all the excerpts from The Sevenfold Spell in order, pop over to Jenny Schwartz’s Acquiring Magic blog and hop along. Here is the complete schedule.
I sometimes ask myself, why this story? Why was it the one that sold? Several reasons, I think. One is that fairy tales are almost universally beloved. If you don’t love them, you probably hate them, and the cover of this novella will send you far, far away. Fairy tales have been retold for centuries. The version of Sleeping Beauty that you are familiar with is at least the third version. It’s a trope that never seems to grow old.
Another reason, I believe, is because it is novella length, and I marketed it toward e-publishers. Publishers only have to charge a few dollars for them, and their short length gives them a quick turnaround time. And they must sell well, because epublishers publish a lot of them.
It used to be that novellas were difficult to sell. Whenever I used to write a short story, 7000 words was my hard limit because most fiction magazines would only publish one or two novellas and novelettes an issue, as opposed to four to eight short stories. When you get much over 7000 words, you venture into novelette territory. The Sevenfold Spell started out as a short story called “Spin” and it was straining my 7000 word limit. It wanted to be a novella, and I fought to keep it a short story. I was unable to sell it. When a friend of mine suggested I expand it to novella length and market it to epublishers, it was as if I set the story free. I sold it on the first try to my top choice publisher.
And I’ve been treated just as if I’d written a full-length novel. I got the same treatment—cover art, blurb, editing, promotion, advertising—you name it. Fellow Carina Press author Jenny Schwartz wrote a novella called The Price of Freedom, and it was among the first CP titles that Audible chose to make into an audiobook. The big difference between epublishing and traditional publishing is epublished authors don’t get advances. Instead, they get higher royalties.
Is there anything different about the writing of a novella? Everything is shorter—both length and chapters. You also have to limit your characters. As a short story writer, I learned that each named character brings with it a certain number of words. When you add a character, your word count jumps. This isn’t something you have to worry much about with a novel, but you still need to keep it in mind when writing a novella. With The Sevenfold Spell, I have seven main characters. When it was a short story, two of those characters were throwaway. Making it into a novella gave me the room to bring them fully into the story.
So next time you’re having trouble expanding one of your stories to novel length, try going with it and see how it works out. If it ends up to short too publish the traditional way, an ebook might be a perfect fit.
Tomorrow, over at World in the Satin Bag, I’ll share with you a script I wrote for a book trailer that I decided not to use. In the meantime, here are the next few paragraphs from The Sevenfold Spell.
I was thirteen, and my mother had just given me the task of shopping for food. At the same time, she put me in charge of my own dowry.
“Any money you save can go to your dowry,” she said, providing me incentive to learn to bargain. One day, I went to Willard’s cart to buy some apples. As I touched one, another fell off the cart and bounced at my feet. We both reached for it at the same time.
Bonk! His head felt hard enough to dent my skull. We leaped apart, each grabbing our foreheads.
“Ow,” he said. “You have a hard head for a girl.”
I didn’t know how to respond. We both leaned against the cart for a moment, until the pain and dizziness passed.
“Here,” he said, “the least I can do after hurting you is give you some apples.”
“You can pay for everything else,” he said. “Is six enough?”
It was two more than I’d intended to get, so I just nodded.
After that first meeting, he gave me a discount, so with an eye for increasing my dowry, I shopped at his cart exclusively. We didn’t exactly become friends, but I felt comfortable around him—he accepted me for who I was, despite my ugliness. He was homely, as well, with a long face, bright red hair and dark freckles. Sometimes when I was avoiding Mama, I would linger around his cart, listening to him talk about life on the farm.
On one such day, shortly before I turned eighteen, he interrupted his own description of the birth of a calf to say, “We should get married, you know.”
I’d love to hear from you! At the end of the day (just before I shut down for the night), I’ll pick a random commenter for a free ecopy of The Sevenfold Spell.