Today I’d like to dive into the topic of novellas, specifically:
- Do you like them?
- Do you get excited about them?
- Do you mind spending money on what is in essence a short story?
- Do you prefer the ones that are necessary to the next full-length book or the side adventures that add to the world but can be skipped if you’re not interested?
- Do you feel like they’re utilized too frequently or infrequently?
My own thoughts:
I have a love-hate relationship with novellas. They can be useful for getting the perspective of characters who are not the usual POV, such as love interests, best friends, and other supporting characters, especially when the series only utilizes the POV of the main character. (Example: Some (not all) of the Kate Daniels novellas) Sometimes they’re well done, like the lead-ups to Throne of Glass. Since it was such a hyped debut, the four prequels helped draw the reader in, give you some perspective on Calaena, and understand more about her character. While they lend back story, the events of the novellas didn’t play into the main novel. (I haven’t read Crown of Midnight yet so I can’t speak to that.) Another great example is the Girl of Fire and Thorns series. The novellas are okay, not great, but the main series is fantastic. You can read the main series without needing to read the novellas, but they’re something to munch on while you wait for the next book to come out. (Haven’t read The Bitter Kingdom yet either. I’m waaaaay behind, I know.)
Here’s where I run into trouble: If the original stories are excellent, I don’t mind paying $1.99 for an accompanying novella. But most of the time, I find novellas pretty lackluster even for a series I really loved (Fire and Thorns). Since every series is coming out with them now, often more than one before the next book is released, I’ve purchased quite a few disappointing short stories for a series I only “3 star” liked. These disappointments add up, and I wouldn’t buy them except that often, they’re essential to understanding the next book.
For example: I recently worked through the Elemental series by Brigid Kemmerer. There was a prequel and a novella between each full-length novel, so we have 3 novels and 3 novellas. The novellas double the length of the series and cost between $0.99 and $1.99 each. One of them featured a major character revelation you need before going into the next novel (not yet released). These extras don’t cost a whole lot, but it seems like a cheap way to squeeze a few more dollars out of me for every series before the next big release. They’re actually turning me OFF of the series, rather than getting me excited about the new books.
Then there’s the whole labeling dilemma: “insert series name here” #0.6 … #0.7 … URG. Why be that specific? Plus, Amazon does a TERRIBLE job of labeling series, so if there are multiple books and novellas in the series and the reader is coming into the series after it’s been published for several years, figuring out the order of said content is a headache in and of itself. GoodReads does a fantastic job at this and that’s where I go to figure out what to buy next, but Amazon doesn’t make it easy to read things in order.
Of course, just to clarify, I’m not ANGRY about any of this, because that’d be silly, but I’m definitely exasperated and ready to skip all novellas for the foreseeable future.