On the Publishing of Independent Short Stories

OptingOutStoryCoverBigUsually I do not make a special announcement when one of my short stories gets published digitally as an individual entity.  I wait until I collect the stories together in both print and digital form, and then I let you know about it.  But this time I’m going to make an exception.

My novelette “Opting Out” has just become available for download on electronic reading devices from Amazon.  It should arrive soon at Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Apple, and other e-bookstores through Smashwords digital distributors.

Often my new stories are my favorites, but this one is particularly special to me.  It’s a character study set in the near future.  An old man who has been living for decades in his Volkswagen camper-van is given an ultimatum to move out of it into government housing because all fossil-fuel driven vehicles are becoming illegal.  But this is not just his vehicle; it is his home, so rather than comply he leaves where he was parked in Seattle, Washington, and moves south, hoping that in other states the vehicle laws will be more liberal.  In a remote area of the California coast he comes across a refuge for homeless people that an eccentric dot-com billionaire has set up.  He moves in and is content for a time, and then decides to go out and help other homeless individuals find the shelter he has found.  How this quest fares is the crux of the story.

I sent this story out to a few magazines and it got nice comments, but because of its odd length (a little over 10,000 words) and the fact that it did not fit comfortably into a commercial niche, being both literary and genre, I quickly ran out of possibilities and decided to go ahead and get it published for direct sale.

Individual short stories for sale is a fairly recent phenomenon, but in this digital age when material can be downloaded so easily on devices like laptops, tablets, and mobile phones it makes a lot of sense.  Maybe you’re waiting in line somewhere or commuting on a bus or train and you’ve got a half hour or an hour to spare.  You can easily load an inexpensive short story onto your device and read.  I liken it to the music industry’s singles records issued in bygone years, which you could buy individually or listen to on the radio but would afterwards be included as part of an album collection.

I’ve published over forty stories individually over the past few years.  A few are packaged as doubles but most are singles.  Most are priced at $.99, but a few of the longer ones, like “Opting Out”, cost a little more.  If you like reading books on paper, they eventually come out as collections in book form.  I’ve published four print short story collections so far; the latest, “Fear or Be Feared: Fantasies” is a compilation of fifteen fantasy stories.  I am considering “Opting Out” as the title piece of my next collection, as a matter of fact.  In the meantime, if you have an e-reader you can access it now.

A listing of all my individual stories available for electronic sale is on my website.  Right now it’s just a mass of covers, but in the next few weeks I am planning to upgrade that page to include descriptions of each story, so it will be a more satisfying and comprehensive browsing experience.  I am also upgrading some of the covers.  Professional graphic artists design the covers of my full-length print/digital books, but I do the covers of the individual stories myself.  It’s obvious to see the difference between my beginning baby steps and my more recent efforts.  While this renovation is underway, if you go to my Amazon or Smashwords author’s pages, you can easily access the story descriptions when you click on the individual stories.  Have a good read.

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