29 June 2017

Down & Out Books Founder/Executive Editor Eric Campbell Waxes Rhapsodic About The Future Of The Novella

by Brian Thornton

Anthony Nom #1
Founded in 2011, Florida indie publisher Down & Out Books has cut a wide swath through the publishing world over the subsequent six years. 2017 has seen Down & Out garner SIX Anthony nominations, including three for Best Novella.

In keeping with my ongoing exploration of the reemergence of the novella as a commercially as well as artistically viable literary form, I recently conducted the following interview with Down & Out's founder and executive editor Eric Campbell. He is an unabashed fan of the novella, and it shows.

Read on....

First off, congratulations on those Anthony nominations. That’s some great work you guys are publishing, for sure!

Thanks a million, Brian. I'm still in shock that Down & Out Books earned six nominations. It's great to know that readers are connecting with the wonderful Down & Out authors. The stories are compelling, fun, adventuresome and excellent examples of how difficult the human condition is and can be. 

It’s been conventional wisdom for decades that one of the first casualties of the advent of television was the novella format. For decades publishers have avoided it as if it were radioactive. Obviously that’s not exactly the case anymore. What’s changed?

What's changed is that our society expects fast resolutions. They don't have the time for a 100K word novel; there's too much distraction from email, the internet, Facebook, etc. I find the novella to be a
Anthony Nom #2
perfect answer. It provides the reader with a long enough read to feel it's worth their time and hard-earned money and it gives the writer the opportunity to see if they can tell their tale in less than 40K words. Do we sell a million copies? Not yet. But I continue to see sales increasing and more folks are giving them a try…and really enjoying them. One of the good things with a small press like Down & Out is that I don't have move 100K units in order to make a profit and for the author to make some good money.

What was it that attracted you personally to the novella format?

You know that comment I made about distractions? That's me. That's you. That's everybody. While I would enjoy reading the 100K word book, I just don't have time to do so. I can sit down with a novella and knock it out on a plane trip, one or two nights before bed. I am a fan of pulp novels and they really aren't long works. You don't have to overthink the story and they move quickly. If you like series then you can pick up the next book and follow the continued exploits of your favorite guy or gal. A number of writers began submitting some really wonderful novellas and I saw them as a way to reach a different audience. So I dived right in.

What kinds of advantages does the novella have over full-length novels where storytelling is concerned?
Anthony Nom #3

The single biggest advantage is that the novella has to be tight and doesn't allow for a lot of "downtime." It fits what people are watching on TV. A story can be told in a single novella but it can have a longer endgame in mind. Think Sons of Anarchy, Breaking Bad, etc. With the novella, the writer can tell the full story but instead of the reader waiting 12 months between shows, maybe you only wait 5 or 6 months. Or hell, maybe you only wait 30 days depending on the approach taken by the writer and publisher. At the end of the day, I think it boils down to great characters. If you've got a great character, then you've got someone people want to read about. 

What do you see in the future for novellas? Is its current resurgence a fad, or something more substantial?

I'm betting that the novella can and will continue to expand. I've got several projects in the pipeline that I think people will dig. 

*          *          *

Check back in two weeks when I'll catch up with several authors (including two winners of the Wolfe Pack's prestigious Black Orchid award for best novella and Anthony nominee S.W. Lauden) about their creative process when working on this hardest to quantify of literary art forms.

See you in two weeks!


  1. Really inspiring interview, Brian and Eric. I love Down & Out's novellas, have read more than a dozen, and D&O will definitely be my first stop in shopping my own novella-length work.

  2. Interesting information!

  3. Great chat here, and congrats to Down & Out Books! So thrilled with the great attention y'all have gotten--much deserved always!

  4. Wow.

    I didn't even know there were legit publishers of novellas now, except maybe as an eBook.
    This is great news, Brian, and very informative.

    It's interesting that people are "too busy" to read. Every writer I know reads a lot, probably more than most other people.

  5. Interesting post, Brian. I'm glad Down & Out Books is open to novellas, and also very grateful that AHMM and EQMM are open to novella-length stories. That's how my "The Last Blue Glass" was able to get nominated for an Anthony in the Best Novella category, too. (Not to be pushy or anything, but anyone interested in reading "The Last Blue Glass" can read it free on my website at http://www.bkstevensmysteries.com/book/the-last-blue-glass/.)

  6. Interesting interview. Thanks, Brian. And thanks, Eric, for helping the novella come out of the shadows.

  7. Wonderful news for those of us who (at least occasionally) write novellas! Thanks, Brian, and Eric!

  8. I've always been a fan of the novella. Thanks for the great article, Brian and Eric. I'm clicking over to check out the novellas at Down & Out books right now.

  9. Vive la novella! And congrats again, Eric and to all your wonderful writers.

  10. Thanks for the kind words, guys. Really appreciate it. Brian, thank you for the opportunity!


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