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Discussion Starter #1
I've written a 4600-word science fiction story, and am trying to figure out what to do with it. I plan to write more stories in this world, which should each be around 30-60,000 words.

Since the story is almost certainly too short to sell for 99 cents, I want to set it perma-free - to get people on my e-mail list and get them interested in my future books. However, it will probably be at least two months until the first longer book is ready to publish.

Do you think I'd be better off publishing the short story around the same time as the first novella, or should I put it out now? Or, do you have other ideas?
 

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Amazon's advice is to aim above 5,000 words for a "good reader experience," though I've seen some that are far shorter than that.

I'm thinking... it's all kind of a crap shoot.  You could try putting it in Select so that readers could borrow it at no real cost.  Are you confident in its quality, that you're giving people a good, solid read?  If you're iffy about it -- thinking that readers will come out of it thinking, "This wasn't worth 99 cents," you might want to wait until the other story is ready and then go the permafree route.

I take it you don't have any mailing list members at the moment?  Is this your first publication?
 

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Scott,

I like the idea of putting the story up as a freebie before releasing your longer books. In my opinion it can't hurt to put it up now and build interest in the series. If you have a blog/twitter following/other forum for communicating with your readers then releasing this short could be a great way of marketing your longer books before they're even up.

I'm sure there are plenty of other authors who've had similar experiences willing to share their wisdom.

Adam,

I tend to prefer short stories to longer novels since I can finish them in the time it takes me to ride a bus into town. Still, I almost always buy collections rather than single shorts. Even if it is clearly marked as a short, my minimum purchase is about 10,000 words. I would save them until you have a few and publish them as a collection.

Again, though, I am sure others who've been in the same situation will have some advice for you.

 

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You could also submit it to magazines etc. Takes a long time and may not yield any results, but it's a thing to do with short stories.
 

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I have plenty of standalone short stories in the 4000 to 5000 word range. Some are even shorter than that, though I won't go below 2500 words and I always include word and approximate page count in the blurb. In my experience, genre and subject actually play a bigger role for sales than wordcount or price.

If a story is too short to publish as a standalone, I usually bundle it with another story in a similar genre.
 

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I'd bulk it up a bit to hit a little over 5k words... and then put it out there.
Set to perma-free and build your mailing list to use when book 1 is ready.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Carol Davis said:
You could try putting it in Select so that readers could borrow it at no real cost. Are you confident in its quality, that you're giving people a good, solid read?

I take it you don't have any mailing list members at the moment? Is this your first publication?
I think the story is good. But, of course, I always think my baby is beautiful. ;D A beta reader gave me some critical (and valid) feedback on the first draft, and really liked the second draft. When another beta reader read the second draft, they found a few minor things to tweak, but seemed very enthusiastic about the story and the universe it takes place in.

You are correct. This is my first fiction story, and my blog visitors/mailing list members/Twitter followers are zero, right now.

From some of the feedback here, it looks like my assumption that 4600 words is automatically "too short" to sell, may not be accurate - although it also might be correct. There's only one way to find out for sure.

Now I'm thinking of using this strategy: Publish the short story in Select for 99 cents. Be very explicit that it's a short story and include the word/page count in the description. Maybe use one or two Select free days now, but save the rest for when the longer book comes out, and use them with promos on freebie sites/lists.

At the end of the 90 days:
• If there are lots of "too short" reviews, either make it permafree, unpublish it as a standalone and include it in a collection of shorts, or give it away as a freebie from my site.
• If the reviews are good, and it gets lots of borrows, renew it in Select.
• If the reviews are good, it has good sales, but few borrows, keep it out of Select and try publishing it in other stores.
• If the reviews are horrible, go back to making cheese.

I'm reluctant to add to the story, just to increase the word count past an arbitrary number. And there isn't anything I think the story is really missing. So it will probably stay the length it is.
 

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I hear there is good money in cheese  ;)

But it sounds like a solid plan to me. Best of luck!
 
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