Sunday, January 23, 2011


Recently there have been several questions on the ACFW loop regarding writing and selling novellas. Today I am going to discuss marketing novellas.

Recently Barbour (my publisher) created quite a stir by announcing that in 2012 they will be releasing a total of 26 novella collections—13 historical, 13 contemporary, for a whopping total of 104 novellas. They are already awarding contracts, so the competition is on!

Steeple Hill (publisher of 2010 Carol award winner for historical novella), Tyndale House (publisher of 2010 Carol award winner for contemporary novella) and White Rose Publishing also publish novellas. There may be others, but I’m not certain.

Since my experience is with Barbour (four novellas), I will speak to their process. The steps are fairly simple:

1. Decide whether you want a contemporary or historical setting.

2. Assemble a team. This must include at least two established Barbour authors (and three is better).

3. Choose a geographical setting and a theme. Consider the following titles of the Christmas novellas from this year, that give you both in a few words:

  • Christmas Mail-Order Brides: Four Mail-Order Brides Travel the Transcontinental Railroad in Search of Love
  • A Door County Christmas: Four Romances Warm Hearts in Wisconsin's Version of Cape Cod
  • A Riverwalk Christmas: Four Couples Find Love in Romantic San Antonio
  • A Woodland Christmas: Four Couples Find Love in the Piney Woods of East Texas

4. Prepare the proposal. Elements will include: (Hint: Becky prefers single space.)

  • Blurb summarizing anthology
  • Blurbs summarizing each of the four novellas
  • Bible verse for each novella
  • Synopsis for each novella (1 page preferred)
  • First chapter for authors not previously published with Barbour
  • Author bios

5. Choose one person to submit the proposal to editor Becky Germany. . .and prepare to wait. She generally will contract the manuscript six months prior to the manuscript due date.

Although the process is fairly simply, I have noticed some common mistakes from non-Barbour authors:

1. Send a proposal for a single novella—proposals must be made for the anthology as a whole.

2. A group submits a proposal without the required two-three Barbour authors.

3. The novella reads more like women’s fiction than romance (this gets into how to write a novella, a topic I will address later if there is interest.)

4. The story deals with a topic too complex for the novella format.

Check out the December 16th post at for more on Barbour’s requirements.


  1. This is very helpful, Darlene. I would like to know the ins and outs of writing a novella, particularly since the accepted novella length that has been mentioned on the loop is quite a bit smaller then I would have ascribed to a novella.

    I've never written in a format shorter than a novel so the concept boggles my mind. 8-)

  2. Barbour novellas run 18-20,000. I tend to write "short" so it's been a good fit for me. :)

  3. Good info! Thanks; I'd like to hear more.