I've just organized the British Society of Aesthetics Fiction Writing Workshop for Philosophers. We learned how to write stories and how to publish them. My motivation for this workshop is the suspicion, voiced by Martha Nussbaum and others, and embodied in the work of writers such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Iris Murdoch, that fiction provides us with a way to do philosophy that cannot be expressed in the classic format of a philosophical article or monograph.
But along the way, I also learned that writers of fiction have many good potential outlets (by good I mean, recognized in the profession) for works of different lengths. We learned in a special session on publishing that there are many literary magazines and journals that specialize in flash fiction, others in short stories, yet others in novelettes, and of course there are plenty of publishers for novellas and novels. A fiction writer can thus pick and choose a publisher for works of various lengths, as follows
- flash fiction: under 1500 words
- short story: 1500-7500 words
- novelette 7500 - 17500 words
- novella: 17500 - something still short of a full novel, which is usually at least 40k
- novel: 40,000 and up
- a series of novels
This is a pretty seamless range of lengths. Compare this to philosophical prose, and we get a much more patchy choice of publication venues.
- flash philosophy: typically, philosophy under 3000 or even 2500 words. There are not many journals interested in this genre (Analysis goes up to 3k, Thought up to 4.5k). Now some journals do accept shorter work, but in practice it is hard to get a short piece published. APA submission papers also have this length.
- shortish but more substantial articles, typically under 7-8k, examples include Journal of Philosophy and American Philosophical Quarterly.
- the ordinary philosophical article, 7-10k (increasingly, they ask for 8-9k maximum for initial submission): this is most philosophical journals
- longer articles, 10-15k. This is a sparse market, it seems to me. To my knowledge, Phlosophers' Imprint and Philosophical Review are among those that regularly accept longer works. Many journals do not impose hard limits, but actively discourage submissions over 10k. For example, the Canadian Journal of Philosophy states "A typical Article for this journal should be no more than 10,000 words."
- for works over 12-15k and under the length of a monograph (maybe 50-6ok at minimum) there is not a big market, although publishers have recently started with such series, including Springer Briefs, Cambridge Elements, and Palgrave Pivot. These are exciting developments (I am working on a Cambridge Element on religious disagreement for the moment), and it would be nice to have a philosophy journal devoted to this format
- monographs (70k-120k). I've heard the sweet spot is between 75 and 90k. Our book with MIT Press had a clause in the contract that our final version needed to be under 100k, everything included. Anything above 100k becomes increasingly hard to sell, especially for a non-famous author.
- series of books (e.g., Parfit's On What Matters) - much rarer than novel series. I think again, a tough sell.
What about the assumption, made explicit in some journals, that a long article should be of exceptional interest to be published, compared to a regular-length article?