Ebooks are changing how we think about novels

Ebooks have been around only for a few years, but they’re already to change the way we think about fiction. Specifically, what’s a novel? Must it still have a minimum number of words? In the Kindle age, does any of that matter?

The digital age has given the authors the freedom to ignore the constraints that came with the printed book. There aren’t a minimum number of times you must hit the “page forward” button on your Kindle or Nook before you tell yourself: “This is a novel!”

That’s silly. You want a story. You want to care about the characters. You want it to be written well. Period. The end.

The first draft of “Signs and Wonders” is 30,000 words. For most people, that’s a 3-hour read. Is it a really long short story? Is it a short novel? Do we stick to the old-fashioned convention and call it a novella? Again, does it matter any more?

The story might grow after edits. It might get shorter. I’m not stressed about it. Twenty years ago, I would be. In fact, I’d  still be writing. Why? Few publishers would look at a manuscript less than 60,000 words.

But I’m the publisher now. And the editor. I’m also the board of directors and the sole stockholder, and my required profit margin is a lot less than those big New York publishing companies. I can sell this to you for 99 cents.

If you think that’s an acceptable deal, you’ll tell your friends to buy it. If not, you’ll probably tell them not to buy it. Seems reasonable to me.

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Filed under ebooks, On writing

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