Kindle Publishing Strategies – The short story test

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Why Independent Publishing?

Authors work hard, with little acknowledgement, begging publishers to pluck them from the mob and tell them their work is valuable. So it is understandable that recent stories of ebook millionaires and how Barry Eisler, an established author, turned down half a million dollars to self-publish is a beacon of hope. We could be in control? And be paid for what we love?

Those eBook and Kindle stories, such as Amanda Hocking (who now has a 4-book deal), are accompanied by a lot of disagreement and, to be blunt, arguing. Traditional publishers feel threatened. I’d still love to use them, but I also am incredibly pleased that authors have more options.

But hearing about the option didn’t make me truly understand it. How does the market work, and if I choose to put my book up will it be difficult to format? To price? To understand it better, did a dry run with a previously aired short story to which I still own the rights. Reselling a short story doesn’t bring much money from a magazine, so I’m not taking a huge risk. Before publishing, remember to ask yourself what your goals are. Self-publishing may bring in money if you are willing to promote it, but it can make selling to a publisher much more difficult.

Publishing on the Kindle

Now, if you haven’t tried this, publishing to the Kindle is far easier than you may think. Assuming that you have a cover and a polished text it takes only the amount of time needed to create an account, write up a blurb, and upload your cover and word document. Simple, but you do have to wait up to 24 hours for the book to appear online. It’s so easy, there’s a five minute youtube video you can follow along while you submit.

Publishing on Smashwords

Submitting to Smashwords took much more preparation and time. I followed the instructions in a very long guide to format my document according to their specifications. My story was simple text with very little formatting. I cannot imagine the headache of books with elaborate tables or special fonts. I’m especially glad I tried this with a short story and not my novel. After a few struggles, I loaded my story and it entered a queue to be formatted that took several hours. Still, Smashwords will make the story available on many markets (e.g., .pdf, Mobi, ePub) so I consider them well worth the time. See it here.

Pricing my Ebook Short Story

For me, the hard part was pricing. Should I offer Undergrowth, my science-fiction/horror short story, for $0.99 or something higher? I chose the lower option, even though it makes only 35% royalties, since this was my first work and relatively short. Even so, I had self-doubt and second thoughts. Had I been pricing my novel, I know my qualms would have been much worse. Debates rage in online forums and over twitter about pricing. Are authors devaluing their work? Will a lower price get more downloads and therefore a higher income, or at the very least drive enough sales to move you up in the ranking? But aren’t royalty percentages lower at low prices? In other words, the same questions that have driven markets since time immemorial.

Putting a single short story on Kindle for $0.99 isn’t going to have much of an impact on my income, but if it goes well I’ll use stories I already have for an anthology. And hopefully that will lead readers to the important purchase, my next novel. I’m working on it now, and I value it highly.

I hope others will also.

10 thoughts on “Kindle Publishing Strategies – The short story test

  1. Excellent article (found via your Twitter profile) and just at the right time. I’m gathering four books (three novels and a writing guide) to upload on to Amazon and am pretty certain on my pricing (the lower end so people take a risk on me, rather than I don’t think they’re worth more) so it’s interesting to read that you put short stories (where I started) on too. Was thinking anthology but now… who knows? 🙂 MB

  2. Hi I have a short erotic story I wrote and I’m new at getting my writing out to public view,so I don’t have a clue where to start.
    Thanks K Lov

  3. Thanks for this. I have been working on short stories for some time and have a collection of rejection letters to show for them. But have been told that my writing is very good. So this option was mentioned to me. Before signing up, I thought I would look for people with opinions, like yours, and see what YOU had to say.

  4. I know how you feel. Kindle publishing is a great way to put work out there, but unfortunately unless you have a way to market your work, you may not get the level of feedback you’re looking for. I wonder whether you’ve tried submitting specifically to anthologies or themed magazines? They tend to respond more quickly than other markets, since they have a firm cutoff date. Also, since you know precisely what type of story they’re looking for, you can get a better sense of whether it’s the subject matter, style of writing, or something else holding you back.

    You won’t want to hear this, but having a critique or writing group can help. I’m more into online options, and recently discovered Book Country as a good option for putting my work in front of a smart community of writers. It’s free, but you have to critique to get critiques.

    Keep it up. Remember, we get better with everything we write. I’m making up a new blog post about submitting short stories, since I know a lot of us are struggling with finding the right place for our stories.

  5. Actually, there are many, many markets for erotic stories. Search and you’ll find publishers looking for just that on an ongoing basis. There are also themed anthologies looking for erotic stories. I’m writing a new blog post about finding markets for short stories. I’ll post it in the next day or two.
    Let me know how it goes. and good luck!

  6. I am a short story writer and currently just finished my first novel. I posted my short stories collection The Night Runner at authonomy two months ago. The stories have moved with the two months from over 5000 to 230. I have found great support and constructive critisism. My stories have strong African themes and many people say the writing style is unique, more poetic and simple at the same time. As I keep moving up the rank, I have met some hard blows,Harper Collins dont publish short stories! I dont believe that at all! I would like to know what other options I have with the collection and if there are any publishers willing to venture into modern African themes.


  7. One thing’s for certain, you’re not going to develop a readership with ONE STORY! I checked your Amazon page. You have one story, plus one story in an anthology (could be the same story, I don’t know). I’m looking for authors I can live with, not poseurs who crank out one story then expect that single story to build their career. Get off your duff.

  8. I applaud you for being a critical thinker on the internet. I saw a video on youtube last week where a guy claimed to make fire using only an orange. Imagine my disappointment when I realized it wasn’t real.

    I’m not sure what search you did on Amazon. You missed at least three more anthologies and a magazine in which I have short stories. I have at least one more slated to come out this year. They’re all unique stories. I’ve also had a number of stories appear in podcasts. You may still consider me a poseur if this doesn’t meet your requirements.

    I’m not sure what brought you to my website, apparently you’re unfamiliar with my work, but since you read this article I assume you’re a writer. Sounds like it won’t be easy for you to be “an author I can live with.” I hope you make it.

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