What do George Orwell’s Animal Farm, John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, Ernest Hemmingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, Albert Camus’s The Stranger, and Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis all have in common?
They’re all novellas. In fact, they head the top five novellas on GoodReads’ World’s Greatest Novellas. It’s a list that contains books such as (just to name a few) Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and Anthony Burgess’s A Clockwork Orange. Even if you haven’t read any (or all) of these books, in all likelihood you would’ve heard of their titles. With some, I bet you didn’t even realise that they were novellas.
Consider these word counts:
Animal Farm – 29,966 words
Of Mice and Men – 29,160 words
The Old Man and the Sea – 26,601 words
The Stranger – 36,014 words
The Metamorphosis – 21,810 words
A book doesn’t have to be obese to be good or meaningful, although given the way publishing has evolved over the years, you’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise. In fact, the novella almost became a forgotten form, which is amazing given the quality of books in GoodReads’ list.
Lately, novellas have started making a comeback. This is probably for a number of reasons.
One would be epublishing. As e-readers tentatively found their way into the market, many couldn’t stomach the possibility of reading a fat book on an electronic screen. Shorter stuff was the go, (at least as a means of introducing people to e-readers).
Another is simply we live in an ever quickening society. Abbreviation seems the norm. Look at television shows. It was only several years ago that a television season was about twenty-two episodes. That’s almost gone. Now, about ten–twelve episodes is the go. It’s a part of a continuing trend. We have to compete with so many other forms of entertainment – Hollywood’s franchise-movie-making machine, the aforementioned TV, games that are almost movies themselves, snippets on YouTube (and on the list goes) – that something big and fat and which seems a long-term prospect can be overwhelming. You really just have to think of the way kids will baulk at a bigger book over a thinner book. That’s us today. Many of us have become kids in our appreciation and investment towards entertainment.
That doesn’t mean that the storytelling itself suffers. Far from it. Again, consult GoodReads‘ list. Size doesn’t guarantee quality, and a lesser length is by no means short-changing. People are falling in love – or back in love – with the shorter form. There’s a beauty and art-form to it which is unique.
Well, it’s long been the intent of our publisher, Blaise van Hecke, to introduce novellas to the Busybird library. Now we’re finally underway.
Busybird will be opening The Great Novella Search, a competition designed to find Busybird’s first novella. Submission details are simple.
Entry Fee: $25.00
Outcome: Your book will be published both in hardcopy and digital formats.
Word count: 20,000 – 40,000
Opens: 1st August Closes: 29th November
Genre: No genre specification.
Format: 1.5 line spacing, 12 point font, and remove your name from the document.
And don’t forget … to please number every page!
Also provide … a short bio of yourself and a synopsis of your novella.
Submissions will be accepted and paid for via Submittable. (The link will be available when the competition opens).
Alternately, hardcopies (containing novella, bio, and synopsis) can be mailed to:
PO Box 855
Makes cheques payable to Busybird Publishing or PayPal fees to busybird.at.bigpond.net.au. If you pay via PayPal, please also provide the receipt number of the transaction.
Feel free to email us if you have any queries.
And our official page for it can be found here.
We look forward to your novellas!