Saturday, May 21, 2011

Show me the money

Several short story writers I know have made their short stories available for Kindle and other electronic devices as individual stories, small collections of only a few stories, and larger collections with a dozen or more stories. So, how are we doing?

The writers who seem to doing well with electronic self-publishing all seem to be novelists, or are primarily novelists. Is there any writer earning a significant amount of money electronically self-publishing short stories in any genre?

I've been making work available for Kindle for about 13 months now, dribbling
things out a little at a time. Although a couple of my novels are available for
Kindle and etc., my publishers released them; my electronically self-published
releases have ranged from short stories to novelettes to novellas.

By the end of last year I was earning $10-$20/month--nice pocket change for minimal effort--but not significant. Last month's earnings--after changing one cover and adding a couple of titles--doubled, and I'm on-track this month to again earn $30-$40. Better. Still not significant.

So, are any short story writers who are not primarily known as novelists doing well with electronically self-publishing short stories?

And, if so, in what genre(s) are they writing?

(For comparison: My best-selling title, representing more than half my total sales, is a sweet romance titled Unbridled Love: A Romance with Horse Sense.)


Fiona said...

While I've not epubbed yet, I am getting a collection of my previously published stories ready. I've read on the Kindle Boards that romances are the biggest sellers at Amazon. That's as a genre, not as an individual author.

Look at JA Konrath. Look at Amanda Hocking. Different genres and nothing in common. Both making big bucks. No answers there.

I'm as confused as the next person.

Michael Bracken said...

Alas, Fiona, both of your examples, and many more I can think of, are primarily novelists

So my question remains: Is there any writer who isn't a novelist doing well electronically self-publishing short stories?

sandra seamans said...

I'm not sure what you mean by well, but Chris Holm sold 2000 copies of his ebook "8 Pounds" in the first six months it was out. He doesn't talk about the money part.

One thing I noticed is that there was a lot of word of mouth with Chis's book. He did interviews at Spinetingler and Criminal E about epubbing. And he got some great reviews that helped spread the word.

And Chris, at the time, was strictly known as a short story writer. He's recently gotten a book deal but whether that will affect sales or not, I don't know.

Michael Bracken said...

Thanks, Sandra. Holm is the type of writer I was seeking.

2,000 sales of a single collection of short stories in six months is good. I see a few things he did or took advantage of that may have boosted his sales.

Are there any others like him?

sandra seamans said...

I know Nigel Bird put up a collection and he also got interviewed and reviewed but he hasn't mentioned his sales anywhere that I've seen.

Just an observation and I can't prove it with facts, but the online short story writers seem to have a bigger following of readers than print writers which also tends to help sales. Plus their readers tend to go the electronic route much easier than older readers which could affect sales, too.

Michael Bracken said...

Good observations, Sandra. I wonder if what you observed holds true for writers in other genres, or just for crime fiction writers.

sandra seamans said...

I don't follow the other genres as close, but the sci-fi community online is pretty tight knit, so I expect the same would hold true for that genre as crime.

Romance is a world all it's own and I don't think they have a big group of short story writers, so I suspect that what collections sell best there would be from known novelists.

Horror probably has more cross-over writers, so that could either work for or against them when they put out collections.

What always surprises me is that readers love short stories, but when buying they'll always go with a novel. I think we've been programmed to think that shorts are for magazines and books for novels, maybe the new epubs will help change that. We can always hope.

Brian Drake said...

My own short story collection, Reaper's Dozen: 12 Tales of Crime & Suspense, is by best seller so far. When it came out last year, I could not give it away, but once the calendar turned, it really started taking off. My other two novels lag behind. I don't think there is one answer to your question. I don't know if there is any formula to predict what will sell more than something else; I've tried to figure it out, and all it does is leave me more confused. All I know is that if I continue promoting my work and releasing more material, everything else will rise with the effort.

By the way, nobody who has seen the cover to Reaper's Dozen likes it, except, I guess, the people buying it. The covers to my novels are much better but the sales performance of those novels doesn't match Reaper's. Another oddity.

Michael Bracken said...

Releasing more material won't be a problem, Brian. I have several filing cabinets filled with previously published work (and at least one drawer filled with unpublished material) that could potentially be released for Kindle and other platforms.

In the spare moments between my paying gigs I'm working on three projects--two confession collections and a horror novella--that I hope to upload soon. If you're correct in thinking that having more material available helps sales, then I should be reaching the tipping point soon where the sheer number of titles I have available will cause income to rise noticeably.