Society appears ready for a change. Time is becoming more precious. If an author has a message or story for us, we want it served up as quickly as practical—“Just the facts Ma’am.” As Amazon says, tell the story in its “natural length”—no pumping up of words just for the sake of word count. “Natural length” leaves plenty of room for a best seller—even a masterpiece like Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea.
Readers seem ready for the short novel or novelette—works of fewer than 30,000 words. Amazon, always quick on the draw, has introduced Kindle Singles—“stories told in their natural length.”The interesting thing is that two different segments of the writer community are embracing their move. Writers who consider themselves journalists phrase the move as a likely savior of long-form journalism. Charlie Sorrel in Wired wrote, “Kindle singles will typically run to between 5,000 and 30,000 words, the no-man’s land between a magazine article and a short book. In the past, there was no way to easily sell work of this length. Magazines just aren’t big enough, and book-buyers want to get their money’s worth in terms of page-count. Electronic publishing has no such limits. Indeed, the format seems perfect for tablets and cellphones.”
Journalists aren’t the only people interested in the 30,000-words-or-less market. Self-publishing and ebooks have arrived just in time for traditional professional writers of fiction and non-fiction to take advantage of a growing appetite for shorter works. With the cost of printing eliminated and with the traditional agent/publisher out of the picture, these short ebooks are priced from $.99 to $4.99. The purchase barrier is greatly lowered. Readers only have to click—their short ebook is downloaded instantly to their Kindle, iPad, iTouch, or other device, and the small price is automatically charged to their credit card or account. There is no waiting, no line to stand in, nothing to make buying difficult. And their ebook doesn’t have “too many words.”
Even the publishing community, according to a Publishers Weekly’s July 15, 2011, article by Rachel Deahl titled Can Short Form Content Deliver More Than Eyeballs?, is discovering that short-form ebooks priced at $5.00 or less can be profitable.