The Journal: Marketing vs. Writing

In today’s Journal

* Marketing vs. Writing
* Novella vs. Novel
* Of Interest

Marketing vs. Writing

I received an email that read, in part, “I don’t trust people who teach ebook marketing but have zero ebooks under their belt.” I mention this just in case anyone else out there is thinking this way. Possibly the writer was referring to some of the marketing experts I recommended in the Journal recently.

Regardless, this is a category mistake, and it isn’t even comparing apples and oranges. It’s comparing apples and fruit stands.

Marketing and writing are vastly different skills. A person doesn’t have to be a writer before s/he can market and sell books.

Now, I will NEVER trust anyone who has never written a novel to teach me how to write a novel. Because frankly, they don’t have the slightest clue what they’re talking about. But a masterful marketer can market anything, even ebooks or books, even if s/he’s never written one.

Consider, many indie-publisher novelists hire out cover design because they just don’t want to mess with learning how to design covers or can’t seem to get the knack of it. So would you distrust a cover designer just because s/he’s never written a novel? Of course not. Same goes for marketing. It’s a different skill set.

Novella vs. Novel (blah, blah, blah)

In today’s Kill Zone blog post (in today’s “Of Interest”), Steve Hooley talks about the novella. He never mentions length specifically, yet length is what defines the novella. It might be worthwhile to mention that pretty much everywhere other than the USA, a “novella” is below 25,000 words. Anything 25,000 words or longer, in much of the world, is a novel.

Also it might be worthwhile to mention that readers place no value in terms like “novella” or “novellette,” just as they place no value in “short-short story” (now an anachronism that used to mean a story typically around a thousand to two thousand words). Readers generally only recognize short stories and novels.

My own short novels, novels, and long novels range from 25,000 to 106,000 words. What I call my novellas range from 15,000 to 24,999 words and novelettes from 7,000 to 14,999 words. But again, that’s just me. Those are divisions I use for my own pricing structure.

The bottom line is this: Shrug. Novella shmovella. Just start writing. Then write the next sentence and the next and the next as you follow the characters around.

Eventually they will lead you to the end of the story. That’s when you get to decide whether what you’ve written is a novella or a novel. But the point is, no matter what you or anyone else believes, the story will be the length it needed to be, and what could be better than that?

Or you can plot and plan-out everything like various parts of the Kill Zone blog post suggests.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “The Novella – Compact Utility Vehicle or Sports Car” at

See “Digital Printing: The New Normal” at

See “Understanding Is Knowing What To Do” at

See “Great Award Ceremony” at For any writers out there who are eligible for Writers of the Future, check this out.

See “When a vampire not called Dracula…” at

See “Business Musings: Copyright Fun Part 3” at

See “Ed Sheeran Gets It…” at

Disclaimer: In this blog, I provide advice on writing fiction. I advocate a technique called Writing Into the Dark. To be crystal clear, WITD is not “the only way” to write, nor will I ever say it is. However, as I am the only writer who advocates WITD both publicly and regularly, I will continue to do so, among myriad other topics.

3 thoughts on “The Journal: Marketing vs. Writing”

  1. Hi Harvey,
    I have a question about novella-ette vs short stories.
    I have 3 individually published short stories with the same main character. They range from a little over 2,000 to 9,000 words. I just finished another story with this character that is about 15,000 words. I’d like to release them as a collection once I write one more story.
    My question is; how would I describe the collection? Would I just call it a short story collection and maybe use the Table of Contents to clue the buyers/readers in on the varying lengths?
    Or do I need to call the collection something different?

    • It’s a short story collection. But in the title of the collection you can hint at the relationship between and the stories. Isabelle Allende did this (albeit in a much longer collection) with The Stories of Eva Luna. That was the title of the collection, but each short story also had its own title. I did the same thing twice in shorter collections like the one you’re proposing: Stories from the Cantina (all the stories were tall tales told by the bartender) and The Cycle of Ramón (all the stories were about a character called Ramón).

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