The Novella Spectacular Contest Announcement

Where the Sun Will Rise Tomorrow by Rashi Rohatgi

Congratulations to Rashi Rohatgi, whose novella, Where the Sun Will Rise Tomorrow, has earned the title of The Novella Spectacular Contest Winner. Rashi teaches world literature in the Arctic Circle. For more insight into her work, continue reading below.

What inspired you to write Where the Sun Will Rise Tomorrow?

The Indian city of Patna, on which Chandrapur is based, has so many stories to tell. Amitava Kumar writes about many of them in his excellent A Matter of Rats, but I was inspired by the way in which recent historical romance has really addressed itself to literary decolonization, to write a frothy, rat-free version of the city.

What is your favorite novella? Why?

There are a few classics that are really meaningful to me – if you haven’t read Hesse’s Siddhartha or Larsen’s Passing, definitely do so – but two recent novellas that have become instant favorites are Suleikha Snyder’s Tikka Chance on Me and Sarah Moss’s Ghost Wall, both of which, I realize now, share some of the same preoccupations as Where the Sun Will Rise Tomorrow. Both explore protagonists’ real, enduring ties to places to which white men’s connections are often glorified and others’ effaced.

Closing thoughts from our staff

Thank you so much to everyone who submitted. We had some truly difficult decisions to make and were privileged to read many excellent novellas. We are so deeply encouraged and humbled by the works we received, which prove to us once more that many writers are still very much invested in the novella form. None of this would be possible without writers (and readers) like you.

A peek behind the curtain

Galaxy Galloper Press Editor-in-Chief here!

This post is just so you can get to know me and my vision a little better, because I think sometimes it can be uncomfortable to submit your creative genius when you don’t know something about the editors who will be reading your work.

First of all, I want you to know that I am not some big, bad, scary publisher. I’m just a reader and writer who decided to fulfill a dream. I wasn’t born an entrepreneur washing gravel and selling it as diamonds. A few years ago, I talked about wanting to publish novellas after seeing what the market lacked for authors and readers. And now that I am growing more keenly aware of how precious and short life is, I decided to not just talk about what I want to do but to actually do it. I left teaching to pursue my Master of Fine Arts and am focusing a great deal of my time on elevating the press while I am in school so that it is fully sustainable by the time I graduate. So, that’s my story. Nothing crazy. I don’t know everything. I’m not imbued with divine knowledge of the literary arts. But I do know some things. And I know I want to publish great novellas.

So what does “great” mean?

When it comes to submissions, I am looking for those stories that shine, not gravel or diamonds but something that I have to puzzle out for a little while, something that leaves me hungering for more, that makes me think, makes me feel. Pretty vague, huh?

As a writer, I, too, do the intimidating business of submitting my work. Researching the journals and publishers. Reading through their works carefully to learn what it is out there. Stumbling on a journal that lights my brain on fire. Gathering the courage to craft a cover letter. Pressing the upload button. And maybe, just maybe, submitting my creation. Not to say anything of the writing process up to that point. After submitting so many times, I have gotten a little a numb to the process, but there is something wonderful about the sparkling personalized rejection or the rare marvel of an acceptance.

Here’s the thing: I get it. Some publishers are scary. If we reject your work, it is by no means a reflection of you as a writer. (They all say that, right? “It’s not you, it’s me.” Sure, sure.) But seriously, I am a graduate student living off the remains of my former career as a public school teacher. I am putting everything into this press, and for that reason, I can only accept a very, very small portion of the novellas submitted. And I would imagine many other small presses are in similar tricky financial situations. That says nothing about you or your writing. It’s just a fact of where we are right now. And one thing I’m learning as a submitter is that if you get a personalized rejection, SUBMIT AGAIN. That especially applies to our press. If we tell you we like your writing, we mean it. We want to see more.

The truth is great writing is subjective. For this reason, we have many different kinds of readers with many different leanings. I want to allow room for different voices. To me, art should be a medium of unhampered expression and exploration where voices raise us up and transport us to new worlds. And just from the contest submissions we have already received, I can say that you all are contributing to that mission— so many different kinds of characters and styles and ideas. Needless to say, the upcoming months of reading submissions, giving feedback, and selecting the winner will be spectacular!

Also just a note about general submissions: Wow. Wow. Wow. We have SO many impressive general submissions, so our response time is a little slower than I anticipated. (Sorry!) I want to ensure each novella gets the consideration it deserves. Thank you to everyone who submitted during our general submission period! We will likely reopen general submissions after The Novella Spectacular Contest, so be on the lookout for that if you missed our earlier general submission period.

All these words to say: I understand. I’m human, too. I’ve been rejected, too. I know it sucks. I know waiting for a response is as exciting as it is scary. I’m not perfect. I am not the goddess of literary arts who casts down final judgment upon your novellas. I’m just a reader who is excited to review your work. And I believe in the power of your writing.

Happy writing and submitting!

Oops! I wrote a novella.

At some point, many writers face the challenge of producing an in-between work— something that is neither short story nor novel.

When we create something different than what the market suggests is normal, we may be tempted to change in order to conform. After all, we want our voices to be heard, and we want to write books that can reach audiences.

In order to conform, maybe we pad our novella up with another 20,000 words to hit that novel length (60,000 is so close…), so we can query agents. I’ve been there. I’ve also been on the other end of that deal, picking up a book sparkling with promise and reading it to find 25-50% of it was bloat. A great idea and moving lines buried in too many words.

Maybe we are more ruthless with our odd-lengthed works and cut our precious 25,000-word masterpiece to 5,000 words, and what remains is a vestige of a literary work worth reading. I’ve also done this, leaving readers confused, unfulfilled, or longing for more. As readers, we’ve encountered those stories— those ones that feel like they could be great but need to be longer.

Why does this happen? Why can’t our writing always neatly fall into the category of either short story or novel? Why do we sometimes complete works at 20,000 or 40,000 words?

Some people may try to tell you that your story is not finished or is missing something. Sometimes this is true. Sometimes you have an undercooked novel that needs a little more development. But I think this is the exception, not the rule.

Oftentimes, when you reach this weird word count limbo, what you have is a novella. And that is a beautiful thing.

Other writers or publishers may tell you otherwise. That if you want to do anything worthwhile you have to publish a novel with a New York publisher or a short story with a reputable literary magazine. Those are all worthwhile endeavors, and if you can do them (which you can), go for it.

But don’t make your story suffer for it. Let your story breathe exactly the way it needs to, at exactly the length it needs to be. Stop googling acceptable word counts, and realize that when you have told the full story the best way you possibly can, you are finished. And if you finish with 30,000 words, you have a novella.

Can you complicate a novella with another side-plot or more description to make it a novel? Sure. Should you? Probably not.

As a serial novella writer, I understand the frustration that comes with creating these strange literary works. I want them so desperately to be longer or shorter, to be something acceptable. But they always tell their story in the way they need to, and that way is usually between 15,000 and 50,000 words.

Because I have been where you are now, wondering about my odd-length creations, I thought the world needs more novella publishers. After letting the idea simmer for years, I finally went all in and decided to launch Galaxy Galloper Press, which is dedicated to publishing novellas exclusively.

Other novella publishers exist, and I encourage you to explore them as well. Some specialize in particular genres. Galaxy Galloper Press does not give preference to any one genre. We know an outstanding work when we see it and will not discriminate against literary or genre fiction. We aim to be inclusive of many voices.

So, if you accidentally wrote a novella, do not despair. You are not wrong. Your piece is not unfinished. You have created something many of the other literary greats have crafted: a novella. We want to give your novella, your voice, and your story a home.