1. Damage718

    Damage718 New Member

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    Questions on self-publishing a collection of short fiction

    Discussion in 'Self-Publishing' started by Damage718, May 22, 2019.

    Hi all, a few questions here about a project I'm working on to put out a book of short stories. Still finishing some pieces, then it's on to editing. Each chapter is it's own short. I'm shooting for about 12-13 chapters, the idea being for a simple, fun, quick read. I'd love some input on the following, please:

    1. What's the rule of thumb (if any) on an intro paragraph for each story? I've seen some collections do this - where under the title there's a little description or anecdotal info about the chapter itself. Is this a good, bad, or indifferent thing to do?

    2. How concerned should I be with the word count? As in, something like 30-40K words would create about a 150-page book, which is in the ballpark I'm looking at. But a writer/editor colleague once said the actual stories are more important than the length - which I agree with - I just wouldn't want to publish something TOO small. What's considered too short of length for a paperback?

    3. The project is made up of a collection of random shorts I've written in the past year - some horror, some thriller/mystery, two so personal they may as well be autobiographical, one or two sports-related, etc. It's a wide-range. Should similar stories be grouped together? Or does it not matter how the chapter flow goes?

    Any and all feedback is appreciated. Thank you!
     
  2. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Loved by a Sweet lady. :) Contributor

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    Well your word count is about 10k shy of a novella on average.
    But I am not one to talk, since I once bought an ebook that was
    a mere 11k (and part of a trilogy somehow). I must be on the
    slightly above normal end when it comes to novel length (over 100K),
    and there are those at the extreme end (500-600K).

    The Hellbound Heart is only 164 pgs (A novel)
    The Inhuman Condition is 180 pgs (Collection of Shorts)

    So I would say you will be fine at ~150 pgs for a collection of shorts.
    Not that I think there is a limit page wise for a collection. The Inhuman
    Condition by Clive Barker is the shortest shorts collection I own, and it
    is strictly shorts, and none of that ass kissing or introduction nonsense
    that you find in many other Collections, just the stories.
    Outside of Barkers shorts collections (The Inhuman Condition, and the
    few Books of Blood series), they are twice the length and have introductions
    to the stories, or in one instance all the praise and glory from so unknown
    critic (or someone o_O ).

    You can have a mashup of mixed genres in a collection. Though in my limited
    exp. reading something like that, it would be in your best interest to not have
    any stories that are almost identical in setting and style. Suppose I expected a
    bit of variety in a mixed bag, but the first two stories were far too similar to
    really count as being all that different in the long run.

    As far as intros go, I have seen them be as short as a paragraph or two, to
    as long as 1.5-2 pages. It just varies. I suppose a modest blurb could work.
    However, if I recall there is a bit of how/what inspired the author to write
    the story and a bit kinda summarizing the story itself ( kinda like a blurb).
    I mean you could take either route. with or without intros.
    Best of luck, and hope some of this was helpful in some capacity. :superidea:
     
  3. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Are you sure you want to self publish a collection of short stories? I mean I think you might do better selling them to publications individually first at least. Rights go back to you after publication so you could always do it in the future, but you can't really self publish them first and then hope to get them in magazines and journals. Plus, I think you stand a better chance of making more money and attracting readers if you get them picked up from some good places first. I know a lot of the short story collections I buy come from first reading something by the author in a literary journal. Then I look for their collection. I read a lot of short stories and story collections, but I have never bought one that was self published. I've heard that linked story collections do better than just a mash up. I wouldn't want to read a mixed genre collection, but I personally don't care if the stories are linked or not. I think short story collections can be a hard sell if you don't have some good credits. Maybe you do. But why are you trying to self publish then?
     
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  4. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    tbh that's going to be really difficult to sell because of its mixed genres ... of course you can self publish anything, but whether readers will buy it is another question
     
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  5. Damage718

    Damage718 New Member

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    Almost every one of these shorts has (or is in the process of) been published as a standalone in other publications/journals/newsletters. There may be one or two new ones that end up in the book that haven't seen the light of day elsewhere prior. The whole project wasn't intended as a mixed bag at first, but then I realized I had a bunch of stories sitting around and figured...throw them together for the hell of it.

    As far as selling it, I'm realistic about that. Not in this to make money at this stage. At the risk of sounding vain, I just want a book out there under my belt :cool:. I've been a professional writer for years (it's my day job, in addition to being published in many newspapers, magazines, trade pubs, and websites on the side), but not a published author yet. (Yep, I fit the old "copywriter with an unfinished book in his desk drawer" cliche.)
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2019
  6. big soft moose

    big soft moose The Moderating Moose Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    neverthe less a book that doesnt fit in any category will be difficult to even upload - you'd be better off grouping them by genre and publishing them as several short collections
     
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  7. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Contributor Contributor

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    Short story collections, as has been stated, and noted by the OP, are very difficult sells, especially mixed genre.

    As has been suggested, and is being done, all of the stories that went into my collection were previously published (some even as reprints). Obviously, watch the reversion of rights clause in the contracts. Of all my published works, online it has sold the least by far (print and ebook and audiobook). However, at some book signing events, it's been a top seller.

    Heck, the editing should already be taken care of...so just a cover and layout, and maybe an intro...Thus, there is no reason not to combine what would otherwise be collecting 'dust sitting dormant on a hard drive...
     
  8. Damage718

    Damage718 New Member

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    I see what you mean about not fitting into one category. Let me retract & clarify on what I said about it being a mixed genre bag.

    The stories are completely different (settings, characters, 1st/3rd person, etc.) but every story has clear horror/suspense/mystery elements to them. Even the two baseball-themed ones are told from a supernatural/mystical perspective. So throwing this into one of those categories would make sense.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2019
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  9. jannert

    jannert Super Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    That's more or less what I was going to suggest. See if you can find an underlying theme that runs through them all, and focus on that, in order to market the book. It would be good to come up with a title for the collection that reflects the genre. If you have any that don't fit, then maybe don't include them in this collection.

    If you're going to put them up on Amazon KDP, for example, you'll need to choose a couple of Keywords. So that will help.
     
  10. Damage718

    Damage718 New Member

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    Thanks Jannert. That makes sense. Looking at the chapters I have so far, there is an obvious supernatural/suspense/mystery theme. Everything from psychological to monster-of-the-week to WTF was THAT? :p
     

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