What to call a book?

All my published titles are books. They’re published individually and that means they’re books.

But when I talk about my books it’s awkward to explain them.

Do I call them books? By that I mean, do I say I have 32 books written and published? Because that really misleads people into thinking I’m talking about novels, when I’m most definitely not.

So do I say titles? I have 32 titles published.

Or do I break it down? I have 18 novels, 2 novellas, 10 novelettes, and 2 short stories published.

But that gets awkward fast. It’s not easy to say, or remember, or explain to those who don’t know what those terms mean. And you’d be surprised how many people outside of publishing just understand books as books and not novels, novellas, novelettes, and short stories.

To them, there’s long and short, and that’s it.

I’ve seen even experienced authors not get it right when the conversation turns to story length.

The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) has a length standard for their awards.

  • Novel: 40,000 words or more
    • Weirdly, novella-length works can be in this category if they’re published as individual works and the author requests it. So is a novella really just a shorter novel as far as SFWA is concerned?
  • Novella: at least 17,500 words but less than 40,000 words
  • Novelette: at least 7,500 words but less than 17,500 words
  • Short Story: less than 7,500 words

The Romance Writers of America has a shorter list of length requirements for their awards.

  • Novel = 40,000 words or more (by computer word count)
  • Novella = 20,000–40,000 words (by computer word count)

I have my own personal standard for lengths.

  • Novels > 40,000 words
  • Short novels / novellas > 15,000 to 40,000 words
  • Novelettes > 7,000 to 15,000 words
  • Short Story < 7,000 words

What made me decide on these lengths? My own writing habits. I have several 7,500 word stories and they just didn’t feel the same as the 6,000 word stories. More depth, more going on in the stories. So I adjusted.

Most people just really don’t care about those intermediate lengths. The nomenclature is irrelevant to them. 10,000 words is still “short” to them, and a 25,000 word story is longish. That’s certainly how it feels to me when I’m downloading and reading fan fiction. :D

I think to cover all my bases I’ll just say I’ve written and published 20 books and 12 short stories.

That’ll create the fewest questions, with the largest number of people.

I’m glad that’s decided. Now I can get back to work on my 21st book. :-)

(I’ll note that these numbers count only the books I’ve written to publish since 2012. I’ll just claim everything else as practice and leave it at that.)

Correction: I made a mistake! The numbers in this post are wrong. I have 18 books and 12 short stories. But 31 titles published. Explanation here. :)

I’ve been binge reading and I’ve discovered something in Calibre that might help my writing

I can’t even number the number of stories I’ve read in the last two months since I published my last book. Most of those have been fan fiction stories, I’ll say, and I tried to stick with longer stories, although I did read a lot of short stories too. :) I like all lengths, but I do love reading yummy long stories in my favorite fandoms!

So, the equivalent of a lot of books there.

In fact, since I download fan fiction exclusively from Ao3 in EPUB format, these stories are books. The keepers stay in Calibre, and the disposable stories get deleted after reading. That’s something I just started recently, mostly because I only want to keep rereadable stories. So even if I truly loved a story but if it’s something that I don’t see myself rereading for pleasure (and that happened–I don’t tend to reread stories with ambiguous or unhappy endings even if they really touched me) I delete them.

Same for original novels.

I do not reread stories that don’t leave me feeling good. I enjoy them, sometimes, and don’t often I regret having read them, but I don’t seek them out to reread, mostly because rereading is meant purely for pleasure and to uplift my mood. I mean, rereading is generally something I do when I need to feel joy but not the anxiety of not knowing what’s coming. :)

During this time, I installed a plug-in in Calibre to tell me the word count of all these stories and novels so I could tag stuff that’s especially short (<10,000 words) or especially long (>100,000 words). Fiction from Ao3 already includes a word count in the meta included at the beginning of the story and I happen know the word counts for all my own books and stories (which are also in my Calibre library for easy transfer to my devices), and this led me to note that the plug-in has reliable numbers (just a tiny bit high, tiny bit, but close enough).

And wow did it open my eyes to something I hadn’t noticed. So many books that I thought were longer were not that long after all. In fact, it has led me to rethink the length I go for in a novel. Lately I’ve been far exceeding my 50,000 word target for my own novels, but I was okay with that because I thought most people wrote longer books and that I was actually writing shorter than average books.

I’m going to work on not doing that any more, because so many of the books in my library that I would have assumed were longer came in between 30,000 and 60,000 words. I just do not need to be writing longer books.

And although sometimes I can’t help myself, I know that I really prefer writing shorter books.

Time to get back to what I love. I’m a little sold on the fact that maybe one reason I’ve been unhappy writing lately is because so many of my books have gone long—much longer than I wanted when I started them.

Long equals a longer time spent writing one book and more chance of boredom interfering with my desire to keep going.

When writing becomes a chore, I’m just not able to overcome my resistance to continuing. Breaks mean I have to spend too much time getting back into the story when I finally do manage, and there’s just a whole lot of baggage associated with all this.

So, shorter books. :D