View Full Version : Too short to self-publish?

01-29-2014, 10:43 AM
So, some people think the e-book and self-publishing markets are moving to single short stories or small collections.

My question is, how short of a short story do you think it would be appropriate to charge for? Granted, the minimum you can charge on KDP is $0.99 unless you price match it for less on some other platform, but if that were the minimum, how long of a piece would you feel comfortable with?

How long a piece would you feel comfortable putting up?

How long a piece would you feel comfortable paying $0.99 for?

01-29-2014, 11:43 AM
Ah, time for another round of death of the novel... didn't realize it had been 10 years already. It's amazing how time flies.

I think I'll pass, there's a reason I don't read short stories.

01-29-2014, 12:54 PM
In a short story's case the quality matters the most. If it's short or very short, but it will satisfy the reader, you may bravely ask money for it. One of my short stories, Anno Humanae Salutis is 1,4k long and it is usually $0.99-$1.33 (It was also the #2 Bestseller in it's category last year.). My other short, the noir novelette Pale Moonlight, is 8,3k long and it's usually $1.99-2.99. People usually have no problem with it, but on my product pages it is always told what they should expect (i.e.: the story's length in word count). All my books have warnings to make everything clear even for the illiterate and cheap people, so they won't be disappointed.

Old Hack
01-29-2014, 03:21 PM
Ah, time for another round of death of the novel... didn't realize it had been 10 years already. It's amazing how time flies.

GHO57, that's not what Shaun was suggesting at all.

I think I'll pass, there's a reason I don't read short stories.

Whatever your reason, you're missing out. There's some wonderful short fiction available. In my opinion, short fiction tends to be more innovative and exciting than novels. I am fond of experimental, challenging fiction.

Shaun, I can't help you with your pricing strategies but if you read through some of the self publishing diaries I bet you'll find a lot of information which will help you.

01-29-2014, 04:14 PM
I'm convinced that people will buy short stories, it's simply a matter of marketing them well, which is something I don't do so I fail to sell any at all. On a purely personal level I'd rather pay 1 for 30 -60 mins entertainment if it's genuinely thoguhtful and interesting than any money for most of the dross that's out there. Maybe it's not a great idea to not write novels but at the moment I'm a little happy writing shorter fiction myself!

Sheryl Nantus
01-29-2014, 05:12 PM
I've got a half-dozen short stories up on Amazon (reprints) and I price them at $0.99. I sell maybe one copy a month since none of them are "hot" genres but they're up there.

To me any length is good for a buck - other than flash fiction.

01-29-2014, 07:57 PM
I think it comes down to genre and market. For example, a 5,000 word story for children could easily fetch 2.99 while the same size for the adult market might be a tough sell.

01-30-2014, 12:46 AM
For my own work, I wouldn't sell anything below a novelette (7500 words) as a 99 cents single. If it's shorter, I'd put it together with something else to make a mini collection. That's personal preference though... I know others charge more for shorter.

01-30-2014, 01:22 AM
5' 1"

01-30-2014, 01:35 AM
5' 1"Yes. You must be at least this tall to ride this ride.

J. Tanner
01-30-2014, 02:45 AM
I bundled in my flash fiction (<1000) with my shortest short stories as bonus content where theme appropriate, so I guess my cutoff is around the flash fiction range. I have one more that's 1500 and with no thematically similar content right now to bundle with so I'm considering stand alone--all that's at risk is my time so there's little downside to trying it. Worst case I switch it over to free down the road. (The story was previously published, so I've already made reasonable money on it.)

If one of my very favorite authors put out something ~1000 I'd have no problem with plunking down a buck, but such authors are few and far between. It's a hard sell without extenuating circumstances (author or series connection.)

K.B. Parker
01-30-2014, 02:59 AM
It really is based on your audience. The audience dictates how much they are going to pay for any given product. I don't tend to buy short stories, unless they are in a collection. Many people do though, and I've seen a lot of success from other authors with short stories, but mostly in the erotica genre.

I would price your work at .99 only if you think that you can get at least six times more readers at that price point, as opposed to the 2.99 model (because that's how many copies you would have to sell to make the same amount of money). That's the business side of things, though. I think if I wrote something shorter than 15K words, I would price it for .99. I just feel like I would be ripping off my readers any higher than that.

Ah, time for another round of death of the novel... didn't realize it had been 10 years already. It's amazing how time flies.

I think I'll pass, there's a reason I don't read short stories.

That wasn't even close to being stated.

01-30-2014, 05:28 AM
For what it's worth, Kristine Kathryn Rusch is doing a series on discoverability (http://kriswrites.com/2014/01/15/the-business-rusch-pricing-discoverability-part-7/) and made an off-hand comment about how $2.99 is where the e-market is stabilizing right now for short fiction (but then she thinks we should price our new releases around $8-12 and backlists at between $5-10, and I don't know many SP people who are making good money at that range.

I tend to price my shorts at $2.99 if they are only available as stand-alone works. I put out a collection of shorts, and the few stories in the collection that were also available as stand-alone works I dropped to .99-1.99.

01-31-2014, 11:44 PM
Thanks. That's great article.

02-02-2014, 03:06 AM
I think the issue with short stories is that you have to really make sure that people know they're buying something that short. It's more about managing expectations than price. Imho.

02-02-2014, 04:14 AM
Amazon has been known to email people who put up very short fiction - something about readers not getting a good experience if the story is too short. I think it's stories under 3000 words that are getting these emails.