Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Kindle Problem

As many of you know, I recently posted a short story to the Kindle.  It's not my first short story ever written (I've been at this game over 20 years).  Nor is it my first piece available to the public.  That said, it still feels ... weird.

I originally wrote the story, Melinda, with the intent on getting it published in a magazine or on a site that actually pays for pieces.  It's a horror story, so that limits the audience, and then there's the whole thing about getting paid.  Anyone who has written for a magazine knows that it can take months before you see a check.  (In the case of UFO Magazine it took about a year or so.)  That's when I started to look into the Kindle.

I don't own a Kindle.  I'm not into eReaders.  Publishing to it, however, was a different ballgame.  The royalties were amazing, and I retain the important rights.  I can yank the story at any time and try to get it published elsewhere.  The only question remaining was: Why not do it?

Because I don't have a Kindle and don't like eReaders.  It seems fair enough.  Why write for a medium I don't use?  In the end it came down to wanting to eliminate the middleman and wanting the piece available to the public.  I wrote it so people would read it, and publishing to Kindle let's people read it.  In fact, I liked the experience so much that I'll be posting more.  (Whether or not anyone buys it is another story all together.)

I still don't want a Kindle, but the idea that a short story is out there that I would have had to shop around, wait for answer, wait for payment on, and get less than I could possibly get through Kindle is rather unappealing to me at this point.  With a magazine, I get a flat check.  It doesn't matter how many copies sell.  That can be good and bad, but with Kindle, it's all about what sells.  I posted the story for .99.  A steal, really.  A disposable price.  It's not that I value the story so little, it's that I think that is the price it will move at.  When I post a novel, I'll go higher up on the price tier, but I still won't go too high.  I want people to read it.  I want them to enjoy it.  The easiest way to do that is by controlling the price ... and Kindle lets me do that, too.  When I wrote my poker book, my publisher overpriced it (it still sells, however), and I think that killed sales.  With Kindle, I have no such problem.

The story is out there.  Read it if you'd like.  Ignore it if you will.  It is there regardless.  And soon there will be more.  It wasn't an easy decision, but I'm sure it was a smart one.


  1. i have the kindle app on my itouch and i do have a few books, either gifted to me or i was too impatient to wait for shipment when the local stores didn't have a copy of whatever i was looking for in stock. i am by no means an ereader convert but i have had a slight adjustment of attitude toward ereaders and would challenge people who've never read anything on an ereader because it just seems wrong on so many levels, to actually read something on one. i've found that most naysayers refuse to try it. not a good idea. doesn't have to be a whole book. maybe just a chapter of something. it's not so awful and only feels weird for 2 seconds if what you're reading is any good. i was one of those people who didn't like it before i tried it. as far as i am concerned, ereaders are not and cannot be in any way a replacement for books. book aficionados will attest to that. but true readers (as opposed to just book snobs) want to read and i'm beginning to wonder if it matters what form it comes in. because i like books...binding, page texture and all of that good stuff, ereaders aren't my first choice. because i'm a reader, i gave the kindle app a chance. and because i gave it a chance and decided that it wasn't the anti-christ of the ever so sacred physical book, i bought melinda and read it.
    the fact that i can get ahold of one of your short stories because kindle and the kindle app exists is a fact that is forcing me to be a little more open-minded about all of this. i have access to something i wouldn't otherwise have access to.
    now, if at some point you want to yank the stories and put them in a short story anthology, i'll gladly purchase that and add it to my bookshelf. until then, the reader side of me says that the ends justify the means. if my only access to a quick, satisfying bite of horror is via ereader, then ereader it is.

  2. You know, I try to read anything I can get my hands on. (Every die-hard reader I know has read the cereal box.) I don't have any device I can put an eReader on other than my laptop, and that is bulkier than a book, so I'd have to buy one. I often read things on the computer, but typically that is short news items or research. Never a novel. Can I see the benefits? Yes. Am I book snob? Probably. Would I ever buy a stand-alone eReader? Unlikely. An app though? I could see that.

    I take it you like the story? Thanks for getting it. I owe you pizza.