Camille LaGuire, the Daring Novelist, yesterday talked about her dare to publish short-fiction ebooks. She talks about novelettes that she had written, which no one wanted to publish because they were too long for magazines and too thin as hardcovers. But in today’s market, she can publish these as cheap, short ebooks. She also talks about writing more flash fiction, more novellas…
… give the reader plenty of chances to get to know my work in short form.
The key, though, is to work toward writing short fiction with the appeal of a novel. You’ve got to write stories not experiments or clever bits of nothing. Short fiction used to be all about stories, but then the short fiction markets became more literary, and for the longest time even in genre, experiment seemed to win out over story. Well, you know, sometimes writing an experiment is good for your skills, and I don’t rule out writing that kind of story once in a while, but the plan is not to do that any more than necessary.
Finally! An author who is of the same mind as I! (Or truthfully, yet another author. I get a little over-excited with each new one I discover.)
In all the flash fiction I read online, I grow frustrated at the amount of literary—and wannabe literary—crap that people rave over. Sometimes, I feel I need to stop and shout to the flash-fiction world, “If nothing changes, you don’t have a story!” Many flash authors are not writing stories; they’re writing snippets of setting or character description. Their entire flash piece isn’t even enough story for an individual scene of a novel, much less for an entire story.
I’ll be watching for Camille’s short fiction, you can be sure of that.
(By the way, her short-story collections The Enchanted Tree, and Other Tales of Transformation and Waiter, There’s a Clue in My Soup! Five Short Mysteries, as well as her other books, are currently discounted on Smashwords, through the end of this week, for Read-an-ebook Week.)
As you know, I’m also on the short-fiction bandwagon. This week, I’ve released another free, short ebook, and I’m just finishing up yet another. The ebook market terrifies many traditional publishers. But as an indie author, I see possibilities, and I’m anxious to continue exploring them.
Free ebooks, individual short stories or small flash collections, too small to publish as standalone printed books, allow you to introduce yourself to readers who would otherwise never hear of you or read your work.
Longer stories, still too short for a printed book, published as 99¢ ebooks, provide a first rung of commitment for readers. Much less intimidating than a $20 hardcover, but if you can convince a reader to spend anything, you’ve brought them one step closer to becoming a rabid fan.
If you combine these ebooks into longer collections and publish them as POD paperbacks, you can sell them to rabid fans (as collectibles or as gifts for their non-ebook-savvy friends), give them away on blogs for publicity, or include them as bonus extras with sales of your other books.
With a large enough base of rabid fans, you can turn a long series of short stories into an income stream. That may require a difficult commitment. But even in dribs of 99¢, one story a month over a few thousand rabid fans, that’s more than you would make working at Starbucks.
You could republish these short story series in paperback or hardcover. Great for gifts, collectibles, “box sets,” etc.
I haven’t been able to make it work yet, so I might be talking out of the back of my head. But in principle, ebook technology represents a great opportunity for the professional author.