Short stories, love ’em or hate ’em

When I started publishing M/M romance, it took me a while to finish a novel. Then again, my early books are easily three times as long as my novels now — my first book, Operation Starseed clocks in at around 107,000 words.

Part of the reason I wrote such lengthy tomes was because I didn’t think e-books were a viable publishing option at the time. This was back in 2001, remember, so I only released books in paperback.

Since I came from a fanfic background, I wrote a lot of short stories; they helped me through the rough patches when the going got tough while writing longer stories. But I played it old-school, submitting the shorter pieces to online magazines and websites. As a result, many of them were published at the now defunct Ruthie’s Club. Some were picked up by Torquere and Aspen Mountain Presses, as well.

Then I started JMS Books. I re-released all my stories with my own company, and for a while I’ve been happy. But, truth be told, I’m beginning to suspect that newer readers are intimidated by the sheer number of e-books I have out. They don’t realize a lot of them are short stories, as reflected in the reviews (seriously, why give a book a low rating on length alone when you otherwise enjoyed the story? That blows my mind. But it’s a rant for another day).

This past December, I pulled a lot of my older titles, many of them shorter stories (we’re talking really short, under 10,000 words in length) to make them exclusive on Amazon for a short while so they could be part of Amazon’s Kindle Select program. Again, I’ll talk about that later.

BUT, and here’s the gist of the email, now that those stories are coming out of the program and I’m getting ready to republish them again, I’m beginning to wonder if I should bother.

Don’t get me wrong — I love the stories. But I think some readers are overwhelmed by how many short ebooks I’ve actually published over the course of … God, 15+ years, is it now?

To be honest, I’d rather newer readers find my novels instead of settling for the shorter stories, which are cheaper (and thus more likely to be bought first). The novels are better in terms of characterization, story-telling, world-building, etc. etc. etc. The short stories are quickies and samples of my writing, whereas the novels are a much more immersive experience.

So the question is what to do when the short stories come out of Kindle jail? Should I republish them widely and settle for a few people here and there complaining about the length and wishing I wrote longer stories (when I do, just look a little DEEPER into the backlist, folks!), or should I pull them from sale altogether?

I’m not sure. I’ve already decided to make some of the super short stories free (those under 3,500 words). But the others … I may just release them as box sets or ebook anthologies and leave it at that.

What do you think?

2 thoughts on “Short stories, love ’em or hate ’em”

  1. Put a number of them together to make anthologies of your work. You can choose a theme (season, place etc.) or the year published to decide which ones go together. That way people who want a long read can read a lot of them in one go but people who want a quick read can read them one a day or whatever.

  2. Thanks, Ilona! I’m thinking the same thing. Many are in print anthologies already, but some of those aren’t really “themed” — rather, it was whatever number of stories worked together to make a book large enough to comprise a paperback. I’m going to see if I can’t reorganize them into better themed anthologies. It will also eliminate the need to redo a lot of my older covers, which are a bit crappy compared to my current covers, which have improved over time.

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