Tortured by Novels

I am a short story writer.  The thing is that if you are not a short story writer this is a difficult concept to understand.  The only thing I can equate it to is music.  You find the instrument that you consider to be your voice.  I can play both the violin and viola very well but I consider myself to be a violist.  It’s my instrument.  It’s me.

The same goes for short stories.  The precise, compact writing style is my voice.  It’s me.  Even before I started writing my brain would constantly think of new ways to streamline the story I was reading.  And now that I’ve been writing for a few years the problem is even more pronounced.  It’s aggravating for me to read long, drawn out sections in a novel that serve no purpose whatsoever.

Is it really necessary for the heroine to be looping around in her head why she can’t be with the hero a FOURTH time?  We know their issues.  Address the issues.  Maybe readdress the issues to remind the reader.  And then move on!

What’s even more aggravating to me is that I’m haunted by the idea of writing a novel.  I mean, they sell way better than a short story.  Why do I put myself through the agony of writing story after story when I could just spend the time making one LONG story that may actually sell?

I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve mentally succumbed to the novel’s siren’s song.  I sit down thinking: “This will be the story that I’ll turn into a novel.  I’ll drag out all the scenes.  I’ll pad all the descriptions.  The works.”

I write the story with this mindset.  And then it ends up being a 12,000 word novelette.

So I give up!  I’m tired of being tortured by novels.  If one happens to come out of my brain, that’s great.  But in the meantime I am resolved to be content with my short story existence.

New Short Story Magazine

The times they are a-changin’…

 

Our busy lives force us to squeeze our relaxation and entertainment into small pockets of personal ‘downtime’– the time it takes to travel to and from work, take a morning coffee break or put our feet up after a hard day.

 

Remember when we loved reading? How we loved stories ever since we were children and they were read to us at bedtime? But what happened? Where did it go wrong? Somehow we lost the bug…

 

Now we find ourselves starting a book and not finishing it and for a lot of us reading has become a once-a year thing on the beach or worse, we’ve given it up altogether. So with ‘me time’ being so rare, that four hundred-page novel or celebrity biography just doesn’t cut it anymore. We need something different. We need something to bring back the fun and fire-up our imaginations – just like those bedtime stories used to do.

 

So we created Cracked Eye – a new kind of digital magazine for a new kind of reader.

 

In every issue of Cracked Eye you’ll find short fiction, illustrations, cartoons, videos, audio-books, graphic novels and serials – all at your fingertips on all devices across all platforms, every month.

 

We’ve taken a mix of well-known and emerging talent, more genres and styles than you can shake a smartphone at and illustrated it all beautifully and added heaps of audio and video to the blend. So now you can read an entire story on your commute, an episode of a graphic novel on your coffee break, or listen to an audio-story before you go to sleep.

 

Yes – the times they are-a changin’ – but fortunately, the story is back.

 

Coming November 4th. Find out more at www.crackedeye.com

A soapbox rant on KU royalties and short stories

Ok I’ve seen some discussion lately about the issue of short stories and KU. Lots of talk on whether or not the 10% marker is fair because it takes way less effort for the reader hit the 10% mark in a short story than it does in a novel.

Now I’m not trying to bash anyone. And I’m not trying to point fingers or accuse people of being right or wrong. Because you know what? It’snot fair that someone can just go through the title page and be 10% into a short story.

But you know what’s also not fair? I have to pay the same amount for cover art no matter how long or short my novelette is.

You know what’s also not fair? I get one-star reviews solely because a story did not exceed X number of words (not even a mention about the actual content).

You know what’s even less unfair? Short stories are really hard to sell. For every 100 people that read novels maybe one likes the occasional short story. And an even smaller percentage of that one actually goes out and buys short stories.

But you know what? I don’t care. I choose to write short stories. It’s my problem.

So now one thing comes along that kind of gives a slight advantage to short story writers and people are getting up in arms about the fairness of it. It’s not even that much of an advantage! People are still going to read way more novels than short stories. So yeah the 10% mark is hit more easily but we are talking about one “read” every five days. Not five reads every day.

If you choose to write novels then you have to take the good with the bad. That means taking a hit on reads if you participate in KU. If it doesn’t suit your business needs, don’t do it. Make an informed decision based on the product you are trying to sell.

But it’s ok for things to not be completely fair.

All right. End of rant.

A Snippet on Short Fiction Money Making

I was lurking about the KBoards Writer’s Cafe (which is an awesome place) and came across possibly one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever read about the business of short fiction.

The forum thread was discussing Amazon’s new Kindle Unlimited program and people got to discussing how whether or not this could lead to a flood of short stories and, basically, put an end to novel-length works.

Short story author EelKat (yes, that’s the name she writes under if you’re curious) gives this epic reply:

But there are already 5 shorts for every 1 novel in Select, and there has been right since Select began. Predictions like this occurred when Select/Prime/KOLL first rolled out and that was what 3 years ago?

Amazon has no need to change the prices and you want to know why? Because for every 10,000 novels sold only 10 short stories sell. Do you realize I’m listed by critics as one of the world’s top selling Short Story writers and I’m lucky if one of my titles sells at a rate of 1 copy a week? My highest sales days ever I can count on 1 hand. In 36 years I have had exactly 4 days where I have sold more than 10 copies in one day. Those are NOT 10 copies of a single title. I have NEVER sold 10 copies of a single title in one day. I have 683 stories published and I have only sold more than 10 copies per day across all titles combined exactly 4 days. Those totals were as follows:

49
71
22
37

Total sales in one day across 683 titles.

The only 4 days I’ve ever sold more than 10 titles in one day.

And I repeat what I said earlier: I’m considered 1 on the Top Ten Highest Seller and Most Paid Short Story Writers In the World.

Go back and look at those numbers, than think about that title.

Than start asking other Short story writers about their sales. the average Short story Writer sells across all of their titles combined 5 to 10 copies PER MONTH and gets 2 to 3 borrows PER YEAR.

NEWSFLASH: There are approximately 2billion readers on the planet. Of them, there are almost exactly 37,000 readers of Short Stories.

I’m sorry, but on what planet do novelists think they can find enough readers of short stories to get rich writing shorts? Even at $2 a pop, which I what I make on my shorts, because I price them @ $2.99. My price chart, for those interested in pricing shorts (and you will want to price them high like this IF you want an income, once it hits you square in the face that people don’t borrow shorts and KU won’t be paying you a penny.)

More than 400 of my 683 titles have under 5k words.

I write Horror, Dark Space Opera, and D&D/S&S Style Fantasy, fewer than 100 of my titles are in other genres.

With that in mind I price my work based on word count:

0.99c = less than 3,000 words
$1.49 = 3,000 to 7,500 words
$2.99 = 7,500 to 30,000 words
$4.99 = 30000 to 50,000 words
$6.99 = 50,000 to 90,000 words
$8.99 = 90,000 words or more

I price my collections/bundles/box-sets like this:

$2.99 =
3-pack of 10ks (30k total) or
5-pack of 5ks (25k total) or
10-pack of 2ks (20k total)
25-pack of 1ks (25k total)

$4.99 =
3-pack of 15ks (45k total) or
5-pack of 10ks (50k total) or
10-pack of 5ks (50k total) or
25-pack of 2ks (50k total)

$6.99 =
3-pack of 20ks (60k total) or
5-pack of 15ks (75k total) or
10-pack of 7ks (70k total) or
25-pack of 3ks (75k total)

$8.99 =
3-pack of 30ks (90k total) or
5-pack of 20ks (100k total) or
10-pack of 10ks (100k total) or
25-pack of 5ks (125k total)

My Erotica skews slightly higher (keeping in mind fewer than 50 of my 683 titles is Erotica):

0.99c = less than 3,000 words
$1.49 = 3,000 to 5,000 words
$2.99 = 5,500 to 15,000 words
$4.99 = 15,000 to 36,000 words
$6.99 = 36,000 to 60,000 words
$8.99 = 60,000 words or more

I price my Erotica collections/bundles/box-sets like this

$2.99 =
3-pack of 5ks (15k total) or
5-pack of 2ks (10k total) or
10-pack of 1ks (10k total)

$4.99 =
3-pack of 7ks (21k total) or
5-pack of 5ks (25k total) or
10-pack of 2ks (20k total)

$6.99 =
3-pack of 15ks (45k total) or
5-pack of 10ks (50k total) or
10-pack of 5ks (50k total) or
25-pack of 2ks (50k total)

$8.99 =
3-pack of 20ks (60k total) or
5-pack of 15ks (75k total) or
10-pack of 7ks (70k total) or
25-pack of 5ks (125k total)

I make money as a Short Story writer ONLY because of my higher prices. Take a look at that price chart, if I was writing novels, I’d be charging $8.99 a book, not .99c or even $2.99 or even $4.99.

Shorts are a hard sell. Even at .99c most writers can’t sell theirs, a lot of writers complain at having shorts at permafree and they can’t even give them away. Because there simply is no demand for shorts. So the notion that novelists are going to storm Select with flash floods of shorts and make millions is silly at best.

I continue to laugh at the novelists who are running around like chickens with their heads cut off, thinking they can switch to writing short stories and see the same amount of sales/borrow they did with novels. They have no clue how hard it is to sell a Short Story.

No, I don’t doubt that novelists will flood Amazon with short stories thinking they can write shorts and get rich quick. I also don’t doubt that novelists will learn fast that writing a GOOD short story is hard to do and takes years of practice and requires a totally different skill than novel writing.

Everyone and their cousin and their dog thinks they can write Short Stories because they are short. Ha! I laugh again at the brainless idiocy of such thinking.

Quantity is key. You are NOT going to see a livable income on short stories, even at $2 a pop until you have at MINIMUM 200 titles in you backlog. Barest minimum.

I’ve had folks (other authors) laugh at me and say I was nuts because I have a short story series I’ve been writing for 36 years and it’s now got 231 volumes, but the sales are so horrible. Why do you keep writing it, they ask me, why don’t you write something more profitable, write a best seller. A novel. Stop wasting time writing a series that has most of it’s titles ranking at the bottom of sales rank.

Why do I keep writing it? Well, I love it and I’ll never stop writing it. Even if I stopped publishing it I’d still keep writing it, so why not publish it and make a few penny a week on each title? Those pennies do add up after all.

Uhm…let’s do the math…

If each title in the series sells just 1 copy a week, not a day, but a week:

231 x $2.99 x 70% x 52 = $25,105.08

Well that’s a pretty good income, for such a crappy bottom feeder with sucky sales-rank and sales as low as 1 a week.

Keep in mind too that I have a cult following of 7,000 die hard fans who literally land in my driveway and follow me around town, some of them claiming following me around is even better than the days when they followed the Greatful Dead around. They follow me to WalMart and McDonald’s, and the laundromat, and they meet me at conventions where they CosPlay as characters from my short stories. I don’t know of any other short story writer who has gained the fandom my series did, there aren’t even many novelists who have a pack of fans CosPlaying their characters vigorously like this. Did I mention I’m a fluke?

And that is just ONE of my series.

I write several series and across all of them I have just under 700 titles now. Yeah. A lot of them only sell 1 or 2 copies a month. A lot of them sell only a single copy a week. The most any has ever sold in one day was 27. But 700 titles. Yeah. It adds up. I don’t need a best seller to live off my writing. I don’t even need a good seller to live off my writing. Heck, a lot of my books are out right poor sellers and I still make a living off my writing! LOL

So, yeah, I don’t really care if my books sell horribly, because I got enough of them out there that it really doesn’t matter.

Follow this article and do what it says step by step, you’ll be living 100% off nothing but short stories in 5 years.
Making a Living with Your Short Fiction
http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/?p=9457

But do keep in mind that for those 5 years you will be living on absolutely nothing while you write enough short stories to live off of. But, keep in mind, that I’m a fluke. I’m one of the VERY RARE short stories writes who gets a sale per title per week. Most short story writers don’t get a sale per title per month.

I’m a fluke because I happen to be d*mned good at writing short stories. On the other hand I can’t write a novel worth sh*t.

That’s the thing there’s a world of difference between writing a novel and writing a short story. Novelists are foolish if they think that just because they can write a novel means they can write a short story. Most people who think they can write a short story, can’t. They suck at it big time. Why? Because they are trying to write a 300 page novel and stuff it into 10 pages, that’s why. You can’t do that. It won’t work. Readers won’t like it.

Few people who are very good at writing novels are also very good at writing short stories and vice-versa.

Novel writing is an art that takes time and practice.

Short story writing is a different art and requires different time and practice.

Sure authors can do both, but the ones that try to do both often are the ones who later complain to not having good sales, can’t find steady followers, and wonder “what am I doing wrong?’

Novel readers follow novelists. They know all the greats, they know the upcomers, they couldn’t give a rat’s patooy about short stories or short story writers.

Short story readers follow short story writers. They know all the greats, they know the upcomers, they couldn’t give a rat’s patooy about novels or novelists.

What do you read? That’s what you should write.

To read the rest of her reply click here:  http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,190464.msg2689328.html#msg2689328

SFWG Announces: The Daily KU Short Read

SUBSCRIBE TO THE SFWG DAILY KU READ: http://eepurl.com/pjVS5

We at the Short Fiction Writers Guild have a new, free service: The KU Daily Short Read! Subscribe now and get ready to discover great short fiction in all genres–available FOR FREE through the Amazon KINDLE UNLIMITED PROGRAM..

When you subscribe, SFWG will be sending a daily recommendation of a short read available through the Kindle Unlimited Program! What a great way to check out new, short fiction! Save the date–it starts in a few days!

KU DAILY SHORT READ– Huh?

You may have heard that Amazon has launched a new program, KINDLE UNLIMITED. (If you haven’t heard about it–have a read, here.

Basically, for $9.99 a month, you get access to an unlimited number of books. We at SFWG think this is a fantastic opportunity for lovers of short fiction! No longer do you have to wonder about the cost of a short work. With the KU program of unlimited monthly access, you can include a healthy diet of short work without breaking your piggy bank!

BUT–there are a lot of books to wade through! So we’ve decided to help you!

Each day, we at the SFWG will send you one recommendation. Each day, in your in-box, you’ll find a link to one piece of short fiction available FREE through the Kindle Unlimited Program.

Remember, KU lets you read as much as you want–for one low price! (Be sure to check the terms of the program at Amazon before you enroll. This is their program, not ours!)

What if you’re not enrolled in KU? Easy–you’ll still love our Daily Short Read. You can buy every story we send you from Amazon, even if you aren’t enrolled in KU.

So get ready short fiction lovers! SUBSCRIBE HERE :http://eepurl.com/pjVS5

(SFWG and the KU Daily Short Read are not affiliated with Amazon.com. The Kindle Unlimited program is Amazon’s program, not ours. Please see the Amazon.Com site for terms of service.)

Following the Crowd

In the last 12 months, there has been a lot of buzz about crowdfunding, especially as a potential monetary channel for authors. Some books were successfully funded on Kickstarter (while many disappeared without a whimper), then came Unbound, which labels itself as a crowdfunding platform and a publisher in one and is actually quite selective of the projects taken on, followed by Pubslush, a platform dedicated to crowdfunding books, and now Authr. Be sure: many more fish will attempt to feed in these seemingly prosperous waters.

If you’re unfamiliar with crowdfunding, it’s this: “The practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet.”*

You may be excused in thinking that with such a process, the wisdom of the crowd will prevail. It doesn’t. Successfully crowdfunding a project, whatever it is, has a lot more to do with marketing and perseverance than with a project’s merit. Oh, and it helps to be famous to begin with. Just see the likes of James Franco, Spike Lee, Don Cheadle and others, using crowdfunding sites for their projects.

Still, these days, publishing is pretty much 90% marketing, and authors have accept this and get involved. Running a successful project on a crowdfunding site requires a lot of work and involvement, before, during and after. Don’t simply think you can post your project and everyone will donate. It’s essential to engage, starting with people in your own network and expanding from there.

Separating your project from the crowd

My first foray into crowdfunding has just started. I thought I was well-prepared. Turns out I’m not, but I’m learning a lot on the fly. I run Rippple Books, a small publisher of fiction. One of our writers, Royce Leville, won an independent publishing award a few years ago, and for his next book, we wanted to try something different in order to build momentum and reach new readers before the book is published. Enter crowdfunding.

But as there are so many book projects trying to be crowdfunded, we feared that Royce’s collection of short stories would get lost in the crowd. We needed a way to make the project stand out. In the end, we were lucky that the director Marc Bethke liked one of Royce’s stories so much, he adapted it into a short film screenplay. Together, we’re trying to fund the production of the film and the publication of the book, all under the banner of “a unique film-book crowdfunding project.” Take a look at our campaign page: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/short-film-mikelis-and-story-collection-the-book-of-names/x/7963130

What started as a publishing venture has morphed into a cross-media endeavor, and this means we’re pulling film fans towards the book and readers towards the film, and whatever else in between, and this will continue long after the campaign is over: the book will drive the promotion of the film, and when the film is released, it will bring viewers back to the book.

Plus, it’s become increasingly apparent that crowdfunding is suited to short-form fiction. It’s much easier to post a short story for potential backers than an outline for a novel. It fits the digital era too, as readers are more willing to give 5-10 minutes to reading a punch-packing short story on a mobile device than to committing to a 600-page doorstop. And like a song, a short story can be easily shared as well.

So, if you’re a short fiction writer looking to crowdfund your collection, I suggest you think outside the box a little. Try to make your project more than just your stories. You could partner with a musician, who writes songs based on your stories, resulting in a book and a CD, and possibly a joint tour. Or with an artist who illustrates the stories and puts the resulting work on display. Or with a fashion designer who makes cool t-shirts based on your stories. Or…whatever else might be interesting, transforming and, er, crowd-pulling.

Guest post written by Cam Jefferys

An award-winning author in his own right, Cam Jefferys also runs Rippple Books, a small publisher that works with authors who offer unusual perspectives and who challenge the established structures. The three P’s stand for “producer to public publishing.” Rippple likes to connect books with readers, and to have readers share the books around. That’s why every publication has a Travel Page at the front, so readers can document where the book travels.

What Type of Reader Are You Trying To Appeal To?

The tricky thing about writing shorter works is there is much less time to make an overall good impression.  A novel’s plot is an intricate weave of multiple plots, characters and themes.

In other words, lots of time to create a favorable impression.  It’s not quite so vitally important for the reader to like every character.  So long as they like enough of what is going on, it’s a satisfying reading experience.

What one person finds “satisfying”may be unsatisfying for another.  Therefore, a short story writer must be extremely clear about what type of reader the story is trying to appeal to.  If it’s horror, the focus should be building that fear.  If it’s science fiction, the focus should be on world-building.

Instant draw.  Instant connection.

Business as Usual

I ordered business cards today.  For my pen names.

In the grand scheme of things, ordering business cards is not that big of a deal.  I’ll be honest, I found some cute designs and I couldn’t help myself (I dig office supplies).  But it occurred to me after I ordered them that I took yet another step to making this writing gig a business and not just a hobby.

I already took the big jump about two years ago when I started keeping track of my writing expenses and monitoring the income.  That made the writing real for me.  But it takes two to tango in the publishing world.  It’s not just about what’s real for me, it’s about what’s real for the readers.  If I continue to exist like some sort of sketchy black-market shadow business I am limiting my opportunities for finding potential new clients.

When people ask about violin teaching I whip those cards out so fast it almost results in near-fatal paper cuts for all involved parties.  But writing?  “Yeah… I write stuff… you can find me online but it’s all under pen names so… never mind…”

Time to make some changes.  If this business is going to grow, I have to treat it as I would any other business and artistic insecurities be damned.

Cross posted from Book Brouhaha.

SFWG’s Third Anthology is Up For Sale!

Love is a tale as old as time. Short Fiction Writers Guild (SFWG), an organization dedicated to the celebration of all genres of short fiction, presents their third anthology: TANGO.

Historical Romance from Gabriella Mahoney: HEALING TOUCH
Albert is a young, ambitious doctor with a promising career ahead of him and cannot afford distractions. Which is why his future wife will certainly be nothing like Tessa Alcott. The outspoken spinster is far too blunt and has an unfashionable taste for her own independence. Such a woman couldn’t possibly be good for him… could she?

New Adult Romance from P.J. Post: CLAY
Bethany Warner is graduating from high school and is looking forward to college and the gymnastics team with few regrets, except for maybe Tommy – her possessive ex-boyfriend.

And as the last party of high school is turning into a dangerous and unforgettable nightmare, she meets Connor Clay, a punk and musician with a reputation for violence.

Western Romance from Annie Turner: TOMBSTONE
With her husband lost at sea and her family dead, Lillie Hayes has nothing but poverty and memories left for her in Boston. Defying this dismal fate, she travels to Tombstone, Arizona, determined to make her fortune at a silver mine her uncle left her in his will. She finds that she may have signed up for more than she bargained for when word gets ’round that she may have struck it rich. The claim jumpers begin to close in and Lillie is quickly running out of options…

Contemporary Romance from Yolanda Allen: TEXT BUDDIES
In a world where all guys do is text, I needed one phone call to change my life and it had to be from him.

Pick up your copy on Amazon today!  Also available through Smashwords and most other major E-book retailers.

Why You Should Write Short Fiction

Many in the writing and publishing industries don’t believe in the value of short fiction.  These same individuals fail to realize that many of our most important and popular authors are (were) prolific short story writers.  F. Scott Fitzgerald, J.D. Salinger, John Steinback, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allan Poe, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, and Stephen King are just a few to name as examples.  One particular writer, J.D. Salinger, began his writing career as a short story writer before he wrote his first novel.

So, why should you write short fiction?  There are several reasons:

1. It helps hone your overall storytelling ability.

2. It strengthens your use of active verbs over passive verbs.

3. It improves your character development skills.

4. It forces you to write tighter plots.

5. You can use short fiction to flesh out various story ideas, or get to know your secondary characters better.

6. You can use short stories to post as freebies on your blog or social media to give your readers a taste of your work.

7. You can write short stories to explore various themes (political, environmental, humorous, etc.), or passions (poetry, music, food, movies, etc.).

8. Writing and publishing quality short stories are also great ways to start building the foundation of a successful writing career.

The reasons are practically endless.

To those who still do not see how writing short fiction is worth the time and energy, ponder on this:

“Short fiction seems more targeted – hand grenades of ideas, if you will. When they work, they hit, they explode, and you never forget them. Long fiction feels more like atmosphere: it’s a lot smokier and less defined.” -Paolo Bacigalupi

What kind of stories do you want to produce?  The ones that explode like a grenade, that would stick in people minds for days; or, the kinds that are forgettable after being read only once, like the gray smoke as it dissipates into the air?

Short fiction has the ability to be the grenade.  So, what’s holding you back?  Write that story!

Guest post written by Carrie Ann Golden.