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. :)

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