Thursday, July 25, 2013

Writing Short Stories: REDUX

First of all, I changed my website and blog format at bit. It was due for a change, but most importantly, someone commented on Facebook this morning that they never read white on black backgrounds, and though I'd heard this comment elsewhere before, there was such a resounding voice of assent in that FB thread that I decided it was high time to tweak the blog format. I like the results. Hopefully, it will be easier for folks to read.

Secondly, after posting about writing short stories last week, I received a comment from author Robert Swartwood  that he felt pretty sure that mostly writers read short stories, and that he wondered also about the time efficiency of publishing short stories to Amazon.

And he's got a point, especially considering the fact that Rob is doing very well self-publishing his novels and novellas to Amazon. In that sort of situation, if one form is selling much better than another and your livelihood depends on it, you need to focus on the format drawing in the revenue.

Yesterday, I posted a FB thread asking the question: who reads short stories? A large number of folks posted they did, and I also noticed a large number of the posters were also writers. However, you do have to consider this - if you say only writers read short stories, that doesn't mean only ten people in the world read short stories. There's a lot more writers out there than that, obviously. Also, FB friend Curt Jarrell posted this:

"The New Yorker crowd, folks who subscribe to Asimov's, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Cemetery Dance and the mystery magazines read short fiction regularly or they wouldn't be published."

Interestingly enough, several folks stated they weren't likely to read just one story at a time. More than likely, they're going to read a collection. Or, as one poster pointed out, a short story collection is a way to "test-drive" an author. In my experience, I end up getting an author's short story collection when I've come to like them, because then I want to read EVERYTHING they've written.

Again, I'm not going to re-hash the old question: Why Write Short Stories? That's like asking why do people breathe? Or eat sushi, maybe. Some folks love the short form and prefer writing to all other forms. Some very fine novelists can't even conceive of writing a short story. Some folks simply prefer to focus on the form they feel most people are going to read.

And hey, I even said it in my last post: TIME is a consideration for me. I've just enough time these days to keep plowing away on Billy the Kid. Unfortunately, right now, I haven't got nearly enough time to write the short stories I'd like to. And to be honest, the Billy Project has much greater financial and exposure POTENTIAL, and I have a partly-open door that I need to take advantage of, so I need to focus on that right now.

Which means, of course, that my half-thought-out experiment The Shelf probably won't fly this summer. And publishing single short stories to Amazon? Probably not even worth it, unless, as Rob Swartwood pointed out, you're Stephen King. However, self-publishing a collection - like Robert Swartwood has - of either previously published stories or unpublished stories is still something to toy with down the road.