1. Chad Lutzke
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    Chad Lutzke Member

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    Ever E-booked a single story?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Chad Lutzke, Aug 7, 2014.

    Recently I met a guy who has self published several stories on Amazon in e-book format and sells them for $2.99. He seems to have done well like this (how well, I've no idea). I had considered self publishing my own anthology with 7 to 10 stories that I still own the rights to, but now I'm considering an experiment with one story at a time. Has anyone else does this or know anything about it? I certainly wouldn't want to make anyone mad if they were to purchase my story thinking it was a full book only to find out two dozen pages later that was it.
     
  2. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I know of others who have done this, but I personally have not. I know that some people have said that people don't like buying short stories -- they feel like they have somehow been ripped off if the story is too short, and then get mad. (I don't understand this POV, but whatever.) So, some authors bundle short stories and sell them as a collection.

    You can certainly give it a try and see how it goes.
     
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  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Is this guy selling stories for $3 a piece? If so, that's a lot for one story. I certainly wouldn't buy an individual story for that price, but it seems like a fair price for a collection of stories. For individual stories, I recommend you submit them to magazines. Chances are you'll make more money this way.
     
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  4. AnonyMouse
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    AnonyMouse Contributing Member Contributor

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    Amazon seems to be full of self-published "series" that are really just a novel broken up into 10,000-20,000 word chunks and sold as three (or more) "books." The romance and erotica genres in particular are full of this sort of thing. For those who remember a time when serialized novels (i.e. publishing one or two chapters a month in a magazine) were still very popular, that is basically what's going on here, but with different labeling.

    But your case is a little different, because selling a standalone short story is not the same as a serialized novel. The latter is a marketing tool, used to hook a reader. "You like this first chapter? Great, now buy the next part!" I think it would be harder to do this with a short story.

    Someone in another thread posted some data about self-published e-books showing what price points and lengths work best. IIRC, $2.99 is definitely a good number to aim for (for novels, not sure how relevant this is to short stories) but I also seem to remember reading that longer is better, to the tune of about 120-140k words). Shorter works don't tend to sell as well. However, this is just off the top of my head; I'll see if I can find the data later, to be sure.
     
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  5. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I'm attempting this myself.
     
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  6. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have ebooked a single story, more than one, but they are all of novel length and sold for average mainstream novel rates.
     
  7. Chad Lutzke
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    Chad Lutzke Member

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    Thanks for your responses. @peachalulu Let me know how that works out if you plan to do that. This weekend will be dedicated to getting my first one up (that and finishing a different story).
     
  8. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Samuel R. Delany has a few single-shot stories in e-book form on Amazon, as does Arthur C. Clarke. I'm sure there are plenty of others, so as a format of presentation (opposed to a collection of stories) it seems to have good precedent from the Knowns on down to us. :)
     
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  9. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    But if you're still one of the Unknowns, it's better to either change the price or add some more stories to make it a collection.
     
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  10. Edward M. Grant
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    Edward M. Grant Contributing Member

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    I have about a dozen short story/novelette ebooks for sale (4,000-15,000 words or thereabouts), and charge $0.99-3.99, depending on the length and genre. Some have only sold a few copies, others have sold hundreds.

    On Amazon, sales mostly seem to grind to a halt after three months or so, whereas I get intermittent sales from all over the world on other ebook sites like Kobo.
     
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  11. Marivian
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    Marivian Member

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    I know of an author who has published a few short story novellas. I purchased them because I was friends with his significant other and they weren't bad but I felt kind of ripped off paying $3 apiece for them. If I didn't know his SO I wouldn't have bothered due to the price. I admit I'm new to the whole publishing world but I feel that short novellas should have a short price and $3 is too much. They should be $1 or so IMHO.
     
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  12. Chad Lutzke
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    Chad Lutzke Member

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    Thanks for the feedback everyone. I went ahead and published a single story in e-book format, as well as a video trailer for said story. Call it an experiment. I completely agree with pricing. I have only charged $0.99 for it. If you're at all interested in the short trailer it's right here:


    Thanks again!
     
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  13. Krishan
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    Krishan Active Member

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    I hope your story sells well. I'd be interested to know what kind of sales figures you achieve.

    Kindle Singles are probably worth mentioning here. They're a series of essays and short stories essentially published and promoted by Amazon. Most are sold for about £1.99.

    Submissions for Singles are open, and they say that they welcome previously-unpublished authors. If you have something of the right length, it might be worth sending it in.
     
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  14. Chad Lutzke
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    Chad Lutzke Member

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    Thank you @Krishan . I'll be looking into this. However, I'm wondering about the difference between submitting a story and being accepted through Kindle Singles and just doing it on your own. Do they help promote?
     
  15. Aanya
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    Aanya New Member

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    If your friend is selling $2.99 for a single story then that's good but how much pieces he/she is selling??
    Any ways I have not done a single story ebook ever, but i have a friend form United Kingdom she has written a single story book and selling only $1 per piece also available on Amazon too.
     
  16. Chad Lutzke
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    Chad Lutzke Member

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    I really have no idea how many they are able to sell, Aanya..seems a bit pricey to me for only one story though.
     
  17. Howard_B
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    Howard_B Active Member

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    Hi Chad. In my view it is all about transparency. If your story is clearly a short story and the reader is not unwitting about that fact, then why not go ahead.

    It also depends on how you feel about selling one at a time....

    If it were me I would be looking at possibly doing both. Put them all in an anthology for 4.99 and also selling them individually for .99. That gives the reader a choice and also makes the whole process more transparent, something customers always appreciate.
     
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  18. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    @Howard_B - even when you do make it clear, I think people still complain. I saw once a short book by Lee Child, bestselling author of about 15 books by now I think - and this short wasn't a story. It was a "handbook" of "rules" written by his main character from the series. Tonnes of fans failed to read the description - it was clearly there - and loads of people gave it 1 star reviews because of this. The part where it said "this is not a story" was put in bold - not sure if that came before or after the influx of 1 star reviews.

    Readers can be awfully stupid. People give you 1 star reviews because they bought the wrong bloody book and got in a huff. Others give you 1 star reviews for the heck of it, or due to pure accident. (all this has happened to my writer friends who've self-pubbed) But the next buyer doesn't know this - they only see the 1 star, and it's your book that takes the hit.

    Anyway, as to the OP - I barely even buy novels nowadays, let alone short stories. In the past, whenever I've seen a book I might want to read, I'd look at the length, and if I see that it's 70 pages or less, I would pass. Why would I pay £3-£5 for a 20-70-paged story by an author I don't even know?

    Personally I think perhaps it's better to give those out for free as part of a promotional thing, to get people to then trust you and therefore go buy your novel-length books.
     
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  19. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    I can't quite understand why anyone would be misled into thinking they were buying a full length ebook that turned out to be just a short story of less that twenty thousand words as below the main listing of the book you will find the technical info which includes the publisher, the size (in computer language) of the book and the approximate print length in pages.

    So if someone comes across a book they like the look/title of for, say, $2.99 then the info tells them it only has an approximate print length of 20 pages, you know its a short story.
     
  20. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    A lot of people don't look that far. I think it's just cus we're writers, somehow we pay more attention to this kinda detail. For those who're just looking for a fun book to past time and it's nothing serious for them, I wouldn't be that surprised if they simply didn't read the description/info.
     
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  21. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Probably. I have to admit, page length is the first thing I look at, I like to get my money's worth LOL!
     
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  22. Howard_B
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    Howard_B Active Member

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    All good points. However the litmus test is how many people buy it, not if there is a complaint or two. A few one pointers would not effect my buying and I think the ratings are grossly over rated. However people I know would be very likely not to check and I think putting short story in the name is a good idea.
    On the other hand if people don't want to buy then that is their prerogative and an anthology may be the only way to sell.
     
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  23. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    This conversation is making me wonder if there's a place in digital publishing for something like what was once called a tête-bêche. I've been collecting some old 50's and 60's sci-fi soft covers and there seems to have been a time when this was a way to market a story (or two) that weren't quite novellas in length.
     
  24. FrankieWuh
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    FrankieWuh Active Member

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    Mmm. I like this idea. The Guardian did a piece about this a few years back (click here) and it's something I'm toying with while I look to release a short novel later this year. Though I'm not sure how it would work with digital books. Tete-beche tended to be an innovative way selling two stories at once, top and tail, so I don't think it would work quite as well, or it will just end up as a double-feature on digital platforms.
     
  25. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Well, the old Ace Doubles nearly always featured two authors. Great way to get exposure for a writer. Kinda' like listening to Pandora where you can discover musicians in a particular groove of music that you may never have discovered otherwise. The novelty of flipping the book over and seeing what looks and feels like a separate second book wouldn't be present, this is true, and that's a big part of the appeal in a tête-bêche, as mentioned in that article in the Guardian. I've actually been collecting the old Ace Doubles purely for the cover art, which I know seems a little sacrilegious to mention in a writing forum, but it's the truth. Wonderfully evocative imagery in the cover art of that time, and I'm learning the more well-known artists of the day as I go along and refine my taste in the medium. :)
     
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