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Is there an easy way to see if a book is a novella or short story? I purchased a book thinking it was a full length book... when I'd read for a short while and noticed I was 50% done I was surprised. Went back to look at the description on Amazon and found in one of the reviews that it was a short story. Shouldn't this be in the product description?
 

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Sometimes it's mentioned in the product description but it's not required so sometimes it's not. If there's any reviews as well, it's best to read them and see if there's any clues about the length of the book.

But the best way to spot a short story or novella is to look at the file size (and sometimes also there's a page count). In general, the longer the book, the bigger the file size... the thing that can throw it off though is if there's images in it (even if there's just some kind of embellishment or little graphic at the start of a chapter or something).

Also, look at the categories it's filed under (scroll down to where it says "Look for Similar Items by Category") - if it's in "Kindle Singles" or "Short Stories", it's a short story.

Unfortunately, I still occasionally come across some that I just can't tell how long they are though. This is partly why I think indie authors shouldn't price full length novels at $0.99 (unless it's a limited time sale) - because it can be difficult to tell them apart from Kindle "singles" aka short stories.
 

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I agree, the author or publisher should ensure it is in the product description. It simply isn't fair to put a single story out without explaining first.
The thing is, you only get burned once. After that, you simply don't trust that author again.
 

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i look at file size.  if the file size is small, i'll sample the book.  if the sample is only a few locations, i know it's a short story and pass on it. 
 

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history_lover said:
Sometimes it's mentioned in the product description but it's not required so sometimes it's not. If there's any reviews as well, it's best to read them and see if there's any clues about the length of the book.

But the best way to spot a short story or novella is to look at the file size (and sometimes also there's a page count). In general, the longer the book, the bigger the file size... the thing that can throw it off though is if there's images in it (even if there's just some kind of embellishment or little graphic at the start of a chapter or something).

Also, look at the categories it's filed under (scroll down to where it says "Look for Similar Items by Category") - if it's in "Kindle Singles" or "Short Stories", it's a short story.

Unfortunately, I still occasionally come across some that I just can't tell how long they are though. This is partly why I think indie authors shouldn't price full length novels at $0.99 (unless it's a limited time sale) - because it can be difficult to tell them apart from Kindle "singles" aka short stories.
File size is a tough one. Usually this works, but if there is artwork included in a short story, it's going to look longer (even if the artwork is only a shot of the cover--and that is common because of the problem of covers not showing up.)

I don't sell singles except when I sell to a magazine, but it has been touted long and hard: Mention in the product description that it's a short story or novella (or whatever length.)

The big publishers aren't good about it either. I almost bought a novella by mistake--but luckily read the reviews and someone mentioned it was a long short story.

I also came across a short story the other day put out by a big publisher--8.95. EIGHT NINETY FIVE. I couldn't believe it.
 

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Content removed circa September 2018 after realizing this forum was bought by VerticalScope -- a foreign corporation with seemingly suspicious motives and a bad attitude apparently attempting to grab rights retroactively. They can have the rights to this statement!
 

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There's always a lot of discussion about this in the writer's cafe.  Most feeling that Amazon should provide that information.  But many indie short story authors will include a page or word count in their description.  It's in their best interest to do so otherwise you'd run the risk of a negative review.

If the short story was published through a publisher the author may not have had any say in their description.  Also, if the author is new, there's a good chance they didn't even think to add a word count, not realizing it would be a problem.  Obviously, if it's spam, that's a separate issue.  Just don't write the author off right away.

File size is a good indication.  A 5,000 word story with a cover will be about 100KB.
 

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Alain Gomez said:
There's always a lot of discussion about this in the writer's cafe. Most feeling that Amazon should provide that information. But many indie short story authors will include a page or word count in their description. It's in their best interest to do so otherwise you'd run the risk of a negative review.

If the short story was published through a publisher the author may not have had any say in their description. Also, if the author is new, there's a good chance they didn't even think to add a word count, not realizing it would be a problem. Obviously, if it's spam, that's a separate issue. Just don't write the author off right away.

File size is a good indication. A 5,000 word story with a cover will be about 100KB.
Alain, for those of us who still can't figure out word count, how many pages is a 5,000 word story?
 

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scarlet said:
Alain, for those of us who still can't figure out word count, how many pages is a 5,000 word story?
About 20. But that begs the question of trade paperback, mass market...but it's about 20 in any case. ;)

50k is the equivalent of one of those older harlequins. (I believe they ran between 50 and 65k and I base that on their submission guidelines.) They also did a few where they combined to shorter "novelletes" into one novel. I think those ran about 40k per story, but there were two if them in the book.

The average mass market paperback is 85k. That runs about 350 pages or so.

Fantasy and sci/fi tend to be longer with 85 being the bottom end and 120k the top end. The top end is not arbitrary--you get larger than 120k words and you have trouble with glue bindings. Fantasy average is a bit higher than other mass market and I think runs about 90 to 95 depending on publisher preferences. For example, Baen in their guidelines says they prefer 100k. I think TOR may have had something similar at one time but haven't looked in a while.

Chick-lit and some romance average: 72 to 85K. (Again some of this comes from guidelines where they tell the writer what they are looking for.) (250 to 350 pages) And yes, I'm ballparking here because fonts differ, page sizes can be different and so on.

So for most people they are used to a book that is at least 70 to call it a novel.

45 to 65k is going to feel like a short novel, but still probably feel like a novel unless you're used to reading behemoth sci/fi.

FWIW. It's an ever changing scene really, but if it's under 45k that's where you should probably be letting people know in some manner the number of pages...or I guess I should say, that's where I'd like to know.
 

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Bryan Cohen said:
I'm about to release a novella, around 20,000 words, and while I'll certainly mention that it's not a full-length novel, how do you think I should specify in the description? I mean, I don't want to turn people off by saying 'it's short' twenty times :).
Just say exactly that - "novella - approx 20,000 words". That way people know exactly what they are buying. I bought what I thought was a novel recently and it turned out to be only about 20,000 words. Nothing wrong with that - if that's what I'd been expecting, but I wasn't.
 

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cork_dork_mom said:
Is there an easy way to see if a book is a novella or short story? I purchased a book thinking it was a full length book... when I'd read for a short while and noticed I was 50% done I was surprised. Went back to look at the description on Amazon and found in one of the reviews that it was a short story. Shouldn't this be in the product description?
It should definitely be mentioned in the product description but sadly it often isn't. Sometimes you can tell by looking at the file size but that too can be deceptive.
 

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Unless it's an "e only" book that doesn't have a print edition at all, there's usually something in the product description that tells you how many pages.  Scroll down the page a bit to the "Product Details" section.

If not, the thing to do is get the sample and see how long it is.  A sample is usually about 10% of the full book.  3000-5000 locations is usually an 'average' length book for me.  So the sample should be 300-500 locations.

Or just buy the book and see how many locations it has. . .press menu and it will show at the bottom of the screen (assuming a K3 here). Be sure to check this right away, and if it's shorter than you expected or that you feel is appropriate for the cost, contact Amazon and return it.  AND post feedback on the books page so that it will be feedback for the publisher too.

You can also gauge how long a book is by how long the row of dots is under the book title on the home page.  The more dots, the longer.  Shorts usually only have about a half dozen dots . . .the row's only a half inch long or shorter.  A novellete will have maybe an inch and a half of them.  Two inches or more is a longer book.
 

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Ann in Arlington said:
Unless it's an "e only" book that doesn't have a print edition at all, there's usually something in the product description that tells you how many pages. Scroll down the page a bit to the "Product Details" section.

If not, the thing to do is get the sample and see how long it is. A sample is usually about 10% of the full book. 3000-5000 locations is usually an 'average' length book for me. So the sample should be 300-500 locations.

Or just buy the book and see how many locations it has. . .press menu and it will show at the bottom of the screen (assuming a K3 here). Be sure to check this right away, and if it's shorter than you expected or that you feel is appropriate for the cost, contact Amazon and return it. AND post feedback on the books page so that it will be feedback for the publisher too.

You can also gauge how long a book is by how long the row of dots is under the book title on the home page. The more dots, the longer. Shorts usually only have about a half dozen dots . . .the row's only a half inch long or shorter. A novellete will have maybe an inch and a half of them. Two inches or more is a longer book.
Uhm. I've seen somewhere on Amazon's pages that the sample is 5 percent of the book...(Not that I know one way or the other, but I've seen this on the KDP help boards a few times. Not by anyone official...)
 

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one other suggestion, see if the author is a member here.  search for their threads, most of our authors post if stuff is not novel length, or at least you can PM them.

And Maria, I'm pretty sure (from empirical evidence) that the amazon sample is 10% of the total locations of a book.
 

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I didn't even realize Amazon didn't have the word counts on there! My publishers put the descriptions up, I think, and over at All Romance Ebooks, they have the word counts, so I guess I missed it that Amazon did not.

Anyway, I went over and made sure all mine are appropriately labelled - even my full length novel, in case people weren't buying it because they weren't sure if it was short or not.

Thanks for the heads up!
 

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scarlet said:
Alain, for those of us who still can't figure out word count, how many pages is a 5,000 word story?
This varies and depends on font size and which e-reader you are using. But 250 words per page is usually the average. So a 5,000 word story will be about 20 electronic pages.
 

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scarlet said:
one other suggestion, see if the author is a member here. search for their threads, most of our authors post if stuff is not novel length, or at least you can PM them.

And Maria, I'm pretty sure (from empirical evidence) that the amazon sample is 10% of the total locations of a book.
That works for me. I actually have no idea; I've just seen the 5 percent thrown around (a lot).
 

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MariaESchneider said:
File size is a tough one. Usually this works, but if there is artwork included in a short story, it's going to look longer (even if the artwork is only a shot of the cover--and that is common because of the problem of covers not showing up.)
Yes, I did mention it doesn't always work but it can help in some cases - if the file size is particularly small, you know it's a short story/novella.

If you're really desperate you could also google the author/title/publisher and see if they have a website that will be more informative.
 

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Personally, I've been using this entry from wikipedia as my guide for when it comes to judging whether a project is novel, novella or a short story.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Word_count

As people have noted, definitions can tend to be all over the place otherwise.
 
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