To write or not to write

…short stories, that is.

The Kindle is creating an opportunity which was never before an option – that of selling individual short stories, novellas, or novelettes. In the print world, anything less than your standard length of about 250 pages was not considered for publication unless bound within an anthology. For new authors, an anthology was unlikely. And so, most emerging authors have laboured to produce the requisite 80-120,000 word story for submission to the traditional publishers. Now, not only has Kindle – and the other platforms – opened direct access to readers for authors, it has also created a market for stories that are faster to produce.

So, what exactly is a short story, novella, etc? Since I write science fiction, I’ll use the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America classifications:
Novel: a work of 40,000 words or more
Novella: a work of at least 17,500 words but under 40,000 words
Novelette: a work of at least 7,500 words but under 17,500 words
Short story: a work of under 7,500 words

On Kindle, you can price your work as low at 99 cents (except those few indies who have figured out how to offer theirs for free…wish I could!), but only get 35% royalties at the price. Yet, what a great introductory price for familiarizing readers with your work and style! A shorter work certainly provides enough insight into your writing that readers can determine whether they would try other works by you.

If I took the time, I likely could compose a novella in less than a month. Writing the longer work takes a lot more time than that (let’s say 8 months). So, I could write 8 – 99 cent novellas in the same period of time. The $2.99 price point generates 70% royalties through Amazon, and appears to be the standard price point for full length novels from most indies (I’ve got Regression on sale right now for 99 cents but it will go back up at the end of February), but a bundle of 4 shorter stories priced at $2.99 would generate greater returns than one longer story which took 8 months to write and then is priced at $2.99.

I am going to finish Evolussion, of course, because it is the conclusion to the Infinion trilogy. But, after that, I think I will experiment with short stories and novellas. I’ve got dozens of story ideas on post-it notes around the house – have to jot it while it’s in my head – that could easily be fleshed out into novellas. Here are the prime candidates already begun.

First Ride – Young Adult Fantasy – A young girl discovers her hidden heritage when her mother takes her riding on her twelfth birthday.

Digital Sunset – Science Fiction – A family adjusts to the loss of all electrical devices as the Earth deals with a geomagnetic pole shift.

Synergy 2012:Return to Magic – Young Adult Fantasy – a school trip to Belize awakens a long-dormant bloodline of queens with magical powers.

Weighting It Out – actually, a contemporary story rather than scifi. A young woman thinks she has nothing to live for, and gives herself a month to determine if she wants to live or die.

With recent headlines (bird and sea deaths), I’m leaning toward working on Digital Sunset. And, of course, timing makes Synergy 2012 another more pressing project. With the upcoming semester change, perhaps I’ll be able to begin writing. As it is, with two courses over-full and one course I’ve never taught before, this semester has wrung me out!


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