Why a Novella? Guest Post by C. S. Boyack

Hi Everyone. It’s a pleasure to welcome fellow author and Story Empire contributor C. S. Boyack to my blog today. Craig has a new novella he recently released, and he’s here to tell you about  the book and why he chose to write a novella rather than a longer novel.

Thanks for inviting me over today, Joan. I’m here to talk about my new book, The Hat. I’m known for trying all the tools in the toolbox, and every book has a behind-the-scenes goal. I believe this helps me grow as an author.

I’ve used different points of view, tenses, story structure, and more to write my stories. The personal goal this time was to bring out a novella length work. That may not seem like much of a goal, so let me explain why.

A few years ago I realized that modern life doesn’t allow for much time. We’re on-call even on our days off. People are in contact with their offices even when they’re on vacation. We’ve trained ourselves to get information in smaller and smaller increments. I don’t know about you, but reading a novel takes me some serious quality time. This time is at a premium for me.

I noticed a renewed interest in short stories, and decided the timing was right to try some of those myself. This led to my Experimental Notebook. Readers could enjoy a story during a coffee break. It was a story book, so they could feasibly get a new story every day until they finished it.

This one sold really well for me, so I followed it up with a second Notebook which sold even better. Maybe I was on to something here. My experimenting with styles and such was rampant in these books, thus the experimental part of the titles, but readers seemed to like it. However, a few reviewers indicated they would have liked a little more time with one story or another. (I take that as a sign that I created some fairly rich worlds within the parameters of a short story.)

What to do? What to do? I have novel length works available. I’ve served the crowd that is pressed for time. Hmm, maybe the novella is due to break out once more?

There was a time when short stories ruled. Then novels took the spotlight. Novella’s we’re always like the stepchild. They hung around, but didn’t fit into magazine parameters. New York publishing didn’t want them either. With the appearance of the e-book, neither of those excuses makes much sense. We’re not trying to fit it between advertisements for Turtle Wax, or tying up the printing presses and trucking to deliver a smaller work.

I found it to be an interesting length. It doesn’t need to be trimmed to the bone like a short story, or even tighter like a micro-fiction. It also doesn’t have that slog through the middle that novels have.

Pricing it was a nightmare, because to me it’s more like a novel. I really enjoyed the story, but now it’s my stepchild. At the end of the day, I decided to publish it at 99¢. This means I get almost nothing out of it, but perhaps some decent reviews and an interest in one of my longer works will happen. I saw this happen with both Experimental Notebooks.

Oh, as a secondary experiment, I included a few small graphics in the book. They are tiny bits intended to enhance the story.

Take a chance on The Hat. I really enjoyed writing it, and maybe you can use it to spend your lunch breaks on this week. I’ll let the cover and blurb tell you all about it.


Lizzie St. Laurent is dealing with many of the struggles of young life. She lost her grandmother, and her living arrangements. Her new roommate abandoned her, and she’s working multiple jobs just to keep her head above water.

She inherits an old hat from her grandmother’s estate, but it belonged to her grandfather. This is no ordinary hat, but a being from an alternate dimension. One with special powers.

Lizzie and the hat don’t exactly hit it off right away, but when her best friend’s newborn is kidnapped by a ring of baby traffickers, Lizzie turns to the hat for help. This leads her deep into her family history and a world she’s never known.

Lizzie gives up everything to rescue the babies. She loses her jobs, and may wind up in jail before it’s over. Along the way, she and the hat may have a new way of making ends meet.

Humorous and fun, The Hat is novella length. Wonderful escapism for an afternoon.

Purchase Link

C. S. Boyack was born in a town called Elko, Nevada. He likes to tell everyone he was born in a small town in the 1940s. I’m not quite that old, but Elko has always been a little behind the times. This gives me a unique perspective of earlier times, and other ways of getting by. Some of this bleeds through into my fiction.

Craig moved to Idaho right after the turn of the century, and never looked back. His writing career was born there, with access to other writers and critique groups he jumped in with both feet.

He likes to write about things that have something unusual. His works are in the realm of science fiction, paranormal, and fantasy. The goal is to entertain you for a few hours and he hopes you enjoy the ride.

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36 thoughts on “Why a Novella? Guest Post by C. S. Boyack

  1. Good points in favor of a novella. Might be time to go with one. Thanks, Joan for opening the door and letting Craig in.


    1. I really wanted one available in my catalog. I’m writing another one, and then I’ll return to longer projects. Thanks, John.


  2. I really like novellas. For me, they condense a story so that it has more punch and less middle muddle. They’re a perfect length.


    1. Glad to hear that. I’m trying to offer several different lengths. Sometimes all we have is a coffee break, and I offer short stories and micros. The new one is aimed more toward a single afternoon. Other times, a good novel with a shadowy middle that all comes together is just what I want.


      1. Another option is to write novellas with the same main characters or to make a series of them with a story arc, like Susan Kaye Quinn’s Delirium series. I wrote a lot of Babet and Prosper urban fantasy novellas when I wrote as Judith Post. It was fun.


  3. Novellas definitely fit the ticket when we want to grab a quick read, and The Hat makes a fun diversion. I loved the graphics scattered throughout. I remember the first one I hit was such an unexpected surprise.

    Wishing you much success with your latest, Craig. I think it will appeal to a wide group of readers.


    1. That’s my hope. It may lead some readers toward my other works too. I really like the size of a novella. Seems like everyone likes the graphics, but I’m glad I didn’t take them over the top.


  4. Now I’m curious to learn more about the origin of novellas. They definitely seem to fit a niche for people who are busy, but have a little extra time for reading. Just a brief look brought up ‘Animal Farm’ and ‘War of the Worlds’ too. Didn’t realize those were considered novella, which raises further questions.


    1. They’ve been around for a long time. They just don’t fit into certain paper publishing models. There was a day when magazines published fiction, but short stories were preferred. When it comes to paper in a book store, novels are more economical. I have a theory that novellas might work well on e-readers.


      1. Keep thinking of Readers Digest. Wonder if that’s still around. Do you think those stories that are posted bit by bit over months would ever make a comeback? Think they were called serials.


        1. I think there is a place for them. We’ve all been following one on John’s blog for months now. I don’t know if there is commercial viability to them, but they can drive folks to our published work.


          1. They probably lost the commercial side when the story magazines fell by the wayside.


          2. They release one a month in a magazine or through an app like Wattpad. Sometimes they publish them for 99¢ a pop. It was a thing last year; a lot of authors were doing them. I don’t know if the trend is over, though. One of my publishers was encouraging it, but isn’t pushing it anymore. Doing something like this goes back to Dickens (at least; maybe even further).


    2. Charles, I would have never thought of those books as being novellas, but I guess it could be because they are shorter in word count than most novels.. Thanks so much for stopping by today.


  5. Good points, Craig. You are right that people are all in a rush and shorter is sometimes better. Great analogy of the novella, too. Best of luck with The Hat!


  6. Thinking about the novella as the “stepchild” is a great analogy. And I think eBooks have changed the market and readers’ expectations. Besides, I think readers are just as likely to experiment as indie authors are. I enjoyed THE HAT, and I wish you much success with it.


  7. I agree with what you say about the evolving book and indie market, Craig. Lovely post today. I especially liked the fun graphics in the book and really enjoyed the story. Best of luck! Joan, it’s great to stop in and see you today 🙂


    1. I’m always nervous about everything I try. Glad the graphics are being well received. I tried not to over-use them, just enhance what was going on.


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