The Short Version

The author Julian Gough writes today in the Guardian that Amazon’s short Kindle Singles are the future of pub­lish­ing. By this, he means that the optimal size deman­ded by pub­lish­ers (from about 80,000 words to–I’m guessing–150,000) has been estab­lished as the norm because books need to look value for money but can­not be prac­tic­ally bound at ginorm­ous sizes.

I agree. One of the most effect­ive books I read over the last couple of years is True Grit. It was mar­keted as a novel but, really, it’s novella length. There have been a few occa­sions when, read­ing a book, I’ve got the impres­sion that a sub­plot has been added to increase its bulk. Now, that’s not neces­sar­ily a bad thing, and if a book needs work like that a care­ful editor can sug­gest it to an author, but I think you need to think twice before insert­ing mater­ial willy-nilly.

I wanted to add this: Shorter works give writers the oppor­tun­ity for a faster turn­around, the oppor­tun­ity for which is not to be underestimated.

2 thoughts on “The Short Version”

  1. I’m not sure I’d agree that Singles are the future, but I do think the digital revolu­tion will mean the novel will no longer be the only game in town.

    For many, the novel will remain the go-to medium, but shorter works are likely to open up plenty of new oppor­tun­it­ies, and hope­fully a wider audi­ence, allow­ing authors to reach people who don’t have time for a novel.

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