Novellas, dog help us all

Ms. Snark,

I am finishing up collection of four (ostensibly “literary”) novellas, all tied to a central theme. I intend to pitch them as a single ms. My friends and family tell me that, since I am unpublished, this is an unmitigated act of cojones grande. I keep running into an attitude that indicates that one has to be Stephen King or Gabriel Garcia Marquez before one can be deemed worthy to publish a collection of novellas.

The collective word count will end up in the 85K to 90K range and, as mentioned, all four novellas were written to blend together thematically.

Does the hair on the nape of your neck bristle at the thought of receiving the apocryphal query letter for such a ms? Well, no, it doesn't

Better to place my head on your chopping block of nitwittery than to bugger my chances with my short list of choice agents. I am traveling under the following assumptions:

The query letter and synopsis should include four separate bullet points describing each novella. Yes

Aforementioned synopses and descriptions of the novellas should be abbreviated to make sure it stays within the recommended page limit. Yes

If I am ever fortunate enough to be asked for a partial, I should only send my pick for the strongest of the four novellas. Yes

While I am soft on the working title for the collection at this moment in time, I should NOT say anything to the effect of “ ‘Love in the Time of Playground Wedgies’ is my working title for my collection of novellas, but I am not married to this title should yourself or anyone in the publishing chain have a suggestion for a meatier hook.” Yes

Which spawns the totally unrelated question number five:

Do editors ever request a title change between solicitation and printing? Yes

My chinstrap is secured, and I am now prepared to be Snarkrimanded. Thank you, Ms. Snark. May I please have another. OUCH! Thank you, Ms. Snark. May I please…Yes

Someone has been reading too much Betty Page. However, all calls for discipline aside, you've actually got the essence here of how to query weird ass stuff. Observe all the rules for normal stuff and hope for the best. Try not to include sentences like "I know this is weird ass stuff" in the cover letter. You don't need to state the obvious.

Novellas are making a comeback. You might actually be on to something.


Anonymous said...

Shit Shit Shit, Novellas are making a comback? That is the best news I've read in a long, long time!

Miss Snark, if I could I'd buy the first round for the group!

Anon, who really, really, really loves Killer Yapp.

Elektra said...

Yay! You've made my day, Miss Snark, and given me renewed hope for my manuscript.

GrotesqueBabe said...

Love in the Time of Playground Wedgies?? I love it!!

If your novellas have this kind of humor in them, I'll read them.

Kitty said...

any hints as to who exactly is publishing novellas?

Anonymous said...

If you've written novellas, have you tried to get one published in a magazine? Having your novellas out there and read could help sell a book of them. Many times when I have read books of short stories, from Nathaniel Hawthorne to Stephen King to Orson Scott Card, many of the short stories in there had been previously published in magazines.

Anonymous said...

kitty asked:
>any hints as to who exactly is publishing novellas?

Berkley and Kensington are two publishers who immediately come to mind.