This week I’m super excited that my novella Back to Bayou Sabine has been released by my fabulous Indie publisher, Velvet Morning Press. And the best news? It’s free! You can get your free eBook on Amazon right now. (For those of you who prefer the print version, have no fear. You can get a print copy on Amazon as well for $5.99.)


back-to-bayou-sabine-web-frontcover-v2So what is a novella, you ask?

It’s shorter than a novel, but longer than a short story, typically weighing in between 17,000 and 50,000 words (but that figure is debatable and seems to change daily). Mine is around 12,000, which puts it at 68 pages. Brevity seems to be key these days, at least when you’re in Book 1 territory (see the Harry Potter case, in which books went from a lean 75K to over 200K as interest was piqued and fandom achieved).

If we want to get persnickety, there is also a “novelette” category of stories that are 7,500 to 17,500 words. Short stories are typically 7,500 words or less. If you’re submitting a story to lit mags and contests, you’ll find a lot of them have a 5,000 word limit. So according to that criteria, I have technically written a “novelette.” But that just doesn’t have the same ring to it, and since the word count for these long stories/short novels is ever changing, I don’t feel too bad about the liberty we took here.

A novel is anything over 50,000 words. If you’re George RR Martin, you get to 450,000+ words and people still read you, but most novels are between 60,000 and 150,000 words. For a little perspective, The Great Gatsby is 47,094. The Color Purple is 66,556. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is 84,799. If you’re a geek like me and want more word counts of your favorites, check out this list that’s been circulating for a while.


I’ve been told that it’s easier to sell a book as a first-time novelist if you’re 90,000 words or under. My upcoming novel Bayou My Love was 110,000 when I declared it “finished” (after so many drafts I lost count. Seriously, it was at least 15). My most trusted reader said, “Get it under 90,000 and send it to my publisher.” I got it to 96,000 or so and sent it. They whittled it down to just under 90,000. It’s coming out March 8.


The bad news is that you have to wait until March to read Enza’s story of love, estrangement, mystery, and arson (did I mention there’s also a handsome firefighter?). The good news is that this free novella, Back to Bayou Sabine, is a prequel to my upcoming novel, which means you can still read about Enza and a couple of her problems, and get a sneak peek at Jack, the man who stops her in her tracks and eventually shows her exactly how much magic there is lurking in the bayou. Plus, you get to read the first chapter of Bayou My Love as a preview to hold you over. So what are you waiting for? Go get your free copy! (And I’m super grateful when you leave reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. They make a tremendous difference now more than ever. Here are a few reasons from Trish Milburn.)


So happy reading, y’all!