This was going to be a quick addendum to my Business: Short Stories article, but it snowballed. Think of that article as the ‘Theory’ and this one as the ‘Practical’. Apply it to your life, if you dare.
To summarize the previous article, I laid out why I wasn’t going to sell individual short stories anymore, based on the Amazon 35% Royalty on $0.99 vs. the 70% Royalty on $2.99. That point still stands so far as I’m concerned, but I left out a few nuances, craft and business.
Craft: I Like Finishing Things
Short stories get the creative juices flowing. Using scientific tracking methods, I’ve found that my word count per day on books increases if I’ve written and completed a short story in the near past. And I’ve also got a new short story to sell for everybody to admire, which is nothing to be sneezed at. I suspect I just like finishing things, and so when I do it gets the adrenaline up, but there’s also the Middle of books to be considered. That’s the most dangerous part, creatively (that is, where I tend to get bored and try to start a new book unless I chain myself to the text document)...and taking a little break to write and finish a short story reenergizes the mind.
My standard complaint about Smashwords is it makes my books look ugly, but it’s still a good place to sell short stories. There’s not that much formatting in a short story to mess up or for Meatgrinder to mangle, and Smashwords sends them all over the place and pays somewhere around 50% royalty. I’ve had especially good success selling short stories on Kobo via Smashwords, so I think it’s a good idea to use it as my ‘short story distributer’. This meshes well with the Theory article, because Smashwords makes it incredibly easy to make a story Free, whether via price control or via coupon. As we speak, Smashwords’ sales tracking is improving, and I suspect at some point soon they’ll work out the deal with Amazon. If I can just upload a short story DOC made from a template and watch the cash flow in from five to ten markets every quarter...well, I’d say Smashwords has earned its 10%.
Short Stories Challenge
For business and craft reasons it’s desirable that I write and finish a short story on a regular basis. Well and good. Dean Wesley Smith declared a fancy challenge with a One Year time limit and everything, but it’s already October, and I’m too lazy to wait until January to officially challenge myself. I’ll just ask how often is the optimal regular basis? Science Says: every weekend.
So, every weekend I’ll write a short story. Start on Saturday, finish by Sunday. Stick it up on Smashwords for free until the next story goes live, after which it’ll be a buck everywhere fine eBooks are sold (once it’s gone through the Meatgrinder). I’ll even do a little blog post about it, whynot? I’ll do this for five years, give or take. Probably.
I’ll write books on weekdays.
I’d rather make my own cover than buy some ‘generic art’, but because this is a short story challenge, not a crappy-slappy cover art challenge, I made a template for my short story cover art. Remember, I’m lazy.
That should do it. Big author name, big title, an inconspicuous number, a logo, and clearly labelled “Short Story” so nobody can possibly be confused. As noted in the previous article, I’ll spend the big bucks on the collection covers, but whatsay for a popular short story? If it comes down to it, I’ve one idea that may or may not be reasonable.
I provide a two-sentence cover description, give an artist $50 to sketch it, add the title and author name and save it as a 600x800 jpg. I’d expect the total working time to be about an hour, so I wouldn’t expect it to be fine art or done to a deadline. Just a quick art project between big jobs, wham-bam-done: fifty bucks later, I’ve got a short story cover. Fair? Sounds fair.
Heck if I know, I’m making this up as I go.
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