Today, announced the launch of a new imprint, called, appropriately, The Imprint, dedicated to publishing “novellas, shorter novels, serializations, and any other pieces of fiction that exceed the traditional novelette length (17,499 words).” This is in addition to their award-winning library of short stories, and aims to further identify as one of the leading short fiction (and, now, mid-range fiction) venues in SFF publishing. This is exciting and encouraging for a lot of reasons. First and foremost, more short fiction from a pro-paying market. Second, a glimpse at what the future of “traditional” publishing might hold.

Fritz Foy and Irene Gallo, will continue in their positions of Publisher and Associate Publisher of, while Carl Engle-Laird is moving into the role of editorial assistant. is also in the hunt for a senior editor, publicity manager, marketing manager, and designer. (Worry not, faithful readers! I’m starting my campaign trail right now.)

Tom Doherty, President and Publisher of Tom Doherty Associates LLC, said, “The imprint will allow authors to cater to ebook and mobile readers by releasing a short form that in turn promotes awareness of that author’s books on the shelf. Release windows for ebook novellas are more flexible, and the length of the story strengthens the options that authors both new and experienced have in getting their fiction to the market.”

The official blog post has early details about delivery of these new publications, which will be mostly digital:

Each DRM-free title will be available exclusively for purchase, unlike the current fiction that is offered for free on the site, and will have full publisher support behind it. It will have a heavy digital focus but all titles will be available via POD and audio formats. We will also consider traditional print publishing for a select number of titles a year. All titles will be available worldwide.

The imprint was ostensibly created to create a new professional market for short stories that are caught in limbo between the short fiction and novel markets, which is a noble cause, but there’s certainly more to the imprint than creating a professional market for novellas. It’s also a test bed for, and their mothership, Macmillan, to explore the brave new publishing world that is forming around the industry. As self-publishing is becoming a powerhouse, even the traditional publishers, like Tor Books/Macmillan, have to consider their own avenues for getting out from under the thumb of their gatekeepers:

We are looking forward to creating a program with a fresh, start-up mentality, but with the rich legacy of Tor Books and behind us.

Where self-publishing generally sees authors taking authority and control over their property away from the traditional publishers, self-publishing, in this sense, is about the traditional publishers reacquiring control over their assets and business from, in the wake of the latest controversy. The mega-retailer, who has recently create their own publishing imprints that directly compete with publishers like Macmillan, is putting uncomfortable pressure on publishers to bend to the will of their heavy demands, which cost publishers and authors money, and, in the long-term, cost readers access to books that don’t go through the Amazon system.

“We have worked hard to ensure that our contracts are as streamlined and author-friendly as possible, and will only include rights that can be immediately utilized by the authors,” said the editorial staff in the official post about the new imprint. “Authors will be offered the option of receiving a traditional advance against net earnings or higher rates with no advance. Royalties for all formats will be based on net publisher receipts with no hidden deductions and will be paid quarterly.” has been at the forefront of publishing author- and reader-friendly short fiction. Most notably with the launch of their DRM-free eBook store in 2012. Tor also pays above average rates ($0.25/per word, rather than $0.05/word) for short fiction. By launching this new imprint, will have an opportunity to freely introduce their customers to new authors, new delivery and pricing methods, and experiment with the many opportunities that have opened up to publishers in the past several years.

“In short,” said the editorial staff, “we are using this opportunity to reevaluate every step of the publishing process and are looking forward to creating a program with a fresh, start-up mentality, but with the rich legacy of Tor Books and behind us.”

  • Kameron Hurley May 28, 2014 at 11:58 am

    I appreciate that they have an advance vs. royalties option. Curious as to what actual figures will look like though. This especially interests me because my natural “short” story length is 12-20k; markets that keep soliciting me for 3-7k are tough to write for.

  • Aidan Moher May 28, 2014 at 12:00 pm

    It seems like it’ll take a bit of time for the Royalties vs. Advance to shake out, but it is nice to see that option.

    Also, this short story I’m working on, that was fighting to be a novella, feels like it has a bit more room to breathe now.

  • Kameron Hurley May 28, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    I do look forward to a resurgence in the upper end of that, the 30-40k novellas; those old 180 page paperbacks sold really well for folks, and were a lot easier to bang out than these 1800 page epics. Everything old is new again…

  • shaunduke May 28, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    Those old 120-180-page novels from the old days still sell for me (or, well, you get what I mean). Sometimes, it’s nice to dive into something that isn’t a paperweight.

    So, hopefully, this really takes off :)

  • Aidan Moher May 28, 2014 at 1:33 pm

    K.J. Parker fans are through the roof.

    Speaking of Parker, I wonder how this imprint will affect Subterranean Press, who’s the current king of 18,000+ word short stories/novellas/short novels/etc.

  • Rob B May 28, 2014 at 1:36 pm

    “Short Novels” / Novellas / Novelettes all make for great sizes of story. I remember thoroughly enjoying the “Best Short Novels” series Jonathan Strahan compiled for The Science Fiction Book Club and now seems to be a great place for stories of this size.

  • shaunduke May 28, 2014 at 1:39 pm

    Subterranean is more a specialty publisher, right? If anything, this seems like it would be good business for them. More stuff to release as special signed, limited editions.

  • Kameron Hurley May 28, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    Agreed on Sub Press winning too, as long as Tor doesn’t also take print rights (and I have no reason to think they would YET – but this is publishing, so who knows). It’s a great length; more people will write them knowing there are more markets for them.

  • Aidan Moher May 28, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    Glad to see I’m not the only one who sees an opportunity for and SP to work in tandem. More publishing venues means more opportunity for writers to produce fiction of varying lengths = more opportunity to publish such work. One can hope that it’s a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

  • Nerds-feather (@nerds_feather) May 28, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    Curious how the print-on-demand option would work, and whether there’d be enough demand for that to keep it viable.

  • Mathew Reuther (@Mathew_Reuther) May 28, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    Seems a shame to sully the news of the initiative with the erroneous report that Amazon is trying to jack prices. I’d suggest, perhaps, letting the story be what it is without inserting flawed analysis into it. I’ve read the blog a long time and I usually appreciate what crops up, but the narrative that a poor, maligned multi-billion dollar multinational conglomerate is getting screwed by a single internet retailer, thus harming authors and fans alike, is ridiculous. If either Hachette or Macmillan they wanted authors to be happy, they’d a) give better royalties and b) take Amazon up on the 50/50 author pool split. (Macmillan didn’t when Amazon offered them the same deal in 2010…) If they wanted fans to be happy, they’d stop trying to drive ebook prices up to protect dead tree prices.

    I have no doubt Macmillan would love to be able to sell direct. They’d also love to price-fix ebooks, but the DoJ told them (and the others big publishers, and Apple) no.

    Aside from that, good for mid-range fiction that they’re firing up this imprint. I hope to see some shorter works, because the industry demanding 80K-100K per SF&F volume doesn’t suit a lot of stories.

  • Aidan Moher May 28, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    Thanks for your take on the Amazon/Hachette dispute, Matthew.

    I’m not sure where I said that Amazon is making an attempt to “jack prices,” but I appreciate seeing a different angle on the issue. There’s a lot of grey area to navigate, and, as you mention, there is progress to made on both sides of the negotiating table. I think we can both agree, however, that we’re more concerned about the authors and readers than the corporations.

  • Fig May 30, 2014 at 10:20 pm

    I hope this doesn’t seem like hijacking this discussion, because I don’t comment here often and I am genuinely thrilled to have another venue to buy short fiction from.

    But Mathew Reuter, I’m curious– do you think what Amazon is doing is good business practice? Does making books unavailable to customers count as good customer service?

    Stepping back from the current situation with Hachette, Amazon has a history of “disappearing” books and buy buttons and playing with availability of in-stock items to pressure manufacturers (not just in publishing) into deals that better benefit Amazon. The only reason it’s making headlines is because a lot of people care about books in a viscerally different way than they do much of the other stuff you can get on Amazon.

    All companies negotiate, but Amazon’s tactics have always struck me as very like Wal-Mart’s– mercenary practices that drive prices down at the cost of the quality of the goods and the welfare of the people making those goods as manufacturers cut costs to keep their own shareholders happy.

    At a guess, I’d say that this recent pricing dispute is a reaction to shareholder pressure on Amazon to make a profit, because despite so many billions of dollars in goods streaming through the company on an annual basis, its profit margins are very slim (in the millions, as opposed to billions, I guess). Amazon has been selling books as a loss-leader to buy up market share for… well, honestly, I don’t know how long. Maybe from the start.

    I seem to recall that, while Hachette was one of the publishers that settled in the price-fixing suit, the entire thing arose because Amazon has somewhere well north of 70% of the ebook market. That’s a bit much for a single internet retailer.

    None of these developments strike me as good things. Maybe they’re advantageous to my wallet in the short term (except that I don’t buy from Amazon for these reasons and others), but not for anything else.