Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

Word Count Classifications for the Assassin Without a Name series

I'm getting ready to release the next Assassin Without a Name story, The Goddard Affair. Since these stories are not novels, I'm often having to look up, based on their individual word counts, how exactly to classify each story. Is it a novella? A novelette? A short story? Is coming up with such a classification even that important? Maybe not, but it helps with pricing, which is always a bit of a conundrum unto itself because pricing isn't based solely on word count, but other factors such as genre, popularity, and what the market will bear.

That being said, I plucked two sources from the web on the breakdown of word counts as it relates to the classification of a piece. The first, from Wikipedia, has this:

The second, from the SFWA's criteria for a Nebula candidate, has:

  • Short Story: less than 7,500 words;
  • Novelette: at least 7,500 words but less than 17,500 words;
  • Novella: at least 17,500 words but less than 40,000 words
  • Novel: 40,000 words or more.

Those look exactly the same to me. I don't know if they each came up with those numbers independently, but they're good enough for me.

Given the above, the Assassin Without a Name series breaks down as follows:

Fine Wine 1693 words short story
Killing the Dead 4512 words short story
Night of Zealotry 14522 words novelette
The Goddard Affair 18997 words novella

One of my goals with writing this series is to not regress in terms of word count from one story to another. That means I'd like each story moving forward to come in around 20,000 words. That puts it squarely at the low end of novella range, but with a wide enough margin from novelette consideration. It also gives readers a bit more bang for their buck. Total, the series stands at 39,724 words. The next story should push that into the 60,000 range. At some point I'll consider a compilation, but for now I'll continue releasing them one at a time as novellas.



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