December 6th, 2009

gold shells

To market, to market

I have a friend who writes mainstream fiction. Most of her work is short stories. She has had several published in small literary journals, but she has never been paid in anything but copies because small literary journals do not make any money. In mainstream, the paying market for short fiction is almost completely The New Yorker and in selling a whole collection of short stories to a book publisher— even more limited than the genre short fiction market, which is smaller than it was but vibrant when compared to mainstream.

That just changed. In the past, The Atlantic published fiction in every issue. They pretty much stopped printing it, but now they are selling it again! They have announced they will sell two short stories a month on the Kindle. This is an exciting development (although one not yet mentioned on The Atlantic's submission guidelines). The Times article in the link above refers to the "iTunes-ization of short fiction." I think the iTunes model is far better than the "for copies only" small literary journal model, but I think the price is too steep. Fictionwise has been selling short fiction for ages and they rarely charge more than $2.00 for a short story. Maybe The Atlantic thinks Chris Buckeley's 15,000 word short story is worth $4, but I don't know that every story they offer will be the same length or have the same author-name recognition.

The Times article also says the story will be accessible only to those with Kindles and iPhones, which is not true, now that Kindle for PC is out. If you have an Internet-connected PC, you can download the app and buy Kindle "books" (even the free ones).

Time will tell, but in the meantime, I put in a poll (my first LJ poll!). Tell me how you feel about paying for short fiction.

ADDENDUM: Shovel Kings, by Edna O'Brien and Cynara, by Christopher Buckley, do both offer free samples, just like a regular Kindle ebook.

Poll #1495307 WOuld you pay $4 for a short story in ebook form?

Would you pay $3.99 for a short story in electronic format?

Sure! I love reading short fiction.
Maybe, if I liked the author enough.
Well, yes, but only if the author was a friend.
Only if the story was longer than 10,000 words.
I doubt it.
No way!

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