Julian Barnes wins the 2011 Man Booker Prize with a novella! Yippee!
That's all I really want to say. I write novellas, and therefore I'm expecting a huge surge for shorter fiction. (Actually, I don't write novellas - I write novels, but they seem to be complete at around novella length, if that distinction makes sense.)
Except there probably won't be a huge influx of shorter fiction. Julian Barnes probably got this novel published because he's a successful writer and his editor was indulging him. Not many publishers entertain the idea of novellas, or indeed short story collections, from unpublished writers, and I wonder how many wonderful writers are being missed with this policy.
The cut-off for novel-length seems to be different depending on the genre and the individual publisher. 70,000 here, 85,000 there - which makes it, once more, difficult for the writer: I don't think any new author writes for a particular publisher, it's a rather limiting approach should that publisher say thanks, but no thanks.
To refuse to even consider a novella submission seems odd to me: "We really love this story, Ms Writer, but you need at least 30,000 more waffle and padding to be of interest to us."
Why? How would 30,000 words of staring out of windows, brushing teeth, considering the minutae of a tedious train journey enhance the story? Answer: it probably wouldn't. But a nice thick book would stand out on the book shop shelves, and they could sell it for £2.99 more than a shorter book.
I could easily add 30,000 words to my 44,000 word WIP, but it would compromise the style and the impact of the story.
All I can hope is that this is the start of something new within the publishing industry. Fingers crossed!