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I'm really curious about this.

Shorts seem perfectly suited for Kindle, but what are the criteria that sell you on a short? Do you need to know the author from longer-form works? Word-of-mouth? Would an intriguing name and cover be enough to sell you on someone you hadn't heard of before?

Would you buy a one-off short, or would you only be interested in an anthology? And if it's the latter, would you be more likely to download an anthology of works by multiple writers, or a collection by a single author (assuming you didn't know the author very well)?

I do have a vested interest in the answers to these questions, but I'm actually just very curious about how people find and build relationships with authors. I'm new to the Kindle world, and trying to learn as much as I can, both as a writer and a reader.
 

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I like reading short stories and have "bought" many of them from Amazon. I put "bought" in quotes because most of the ones I've downloaded have been free.  I will download them as long as the description sounds interesting.

I've also bought some short stories for 99 cents, but they tend to be from authors that I'm already familiar with or recommended by someone I know.
 

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I usually buy short stories by authors who I've read before, collections that have gotten good word-of-mouth from blogs I read that generally have the same taste, or themed multi-author anthologies.  For example, I have many of the anthologies that the Private Eye Writers of America (PWA) has put out, because I know in general terms what they'll be like.

I have found lots of new authors on various fiction sites on the web.  I would never have heard of Scott Wolven, an excellent writer of crime stories, if I hadn't read his work at Plots With Guns and other sites.
 

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I buy shorts the same way I buy novels. The cover has to grab me and so does the blurb, and then the writing in the sample has to hold up to the promise of the cover and blub. I do find it's harder to part with $.99 for a very short story than it is to part with $9.99 for a doorstopper of a book, because short stories have a hard time competing in the hours-of-entertainment-versus-money-spent arena.
 

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I like short stories, but I prefer to buy collections, whether a collection by one author or a collection of related stories by various authors. I'm not sure why I prefer collections over individual stories: maybe I feel like I'm getting a better deal, or maybe I like the idea of being able to read through a book of stories before I have to decide what to read next -- or maybe there is no rational reason. :)
 

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NogDog said:
I like short stories, but I prefer to buy collections, whether a collection by one author or a collection of related stories by various authors. I'm not sure why I prefer collections over individual stories: maybe I feel like I'm getting a better deal, or maybe I like the idea of being able to read through a book of stories before I have to decide what to read next -- or maybe there is no rational reason. :)
I'm with you on this. I prefer anthologies. That usually means that some stories in the collection are stronger than others, but I don't really mind that. But when I'm reading short stories, I want to read a group of them over a short period - a single, stand-alone short story usually just wets my whistle for more.
 

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I also usually buy collections or anthologies. Buying a single short story would be a bigger risk, but in a collection, I expect to find a few that are really memorable and others that are just time killers. I might buy a single short if it is one that I had read before and I wanted my own copy of it.

When I buy collections, I usually buy a collection of a specific genre - usually horror as I like horror in short fiction better than in novels. I will buy collections of a single author if it is an author I like (eg, Richard Matheson), but rarely will I buy a collection where all the stories are by an author I never heard of.

I also buy collections of literary short fiction by assorted authors - although these I have in paper format. My favorite is a book I kept from college, some 20 plus years ago, called the Art of the Tale. Collections like this have introduced me to authors of literary fiction I may not have tried otherwise. I then go on to buy their longer works. This book introduced me to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and I am impatiently waiting for his English translations to become available for the Kindle.
 

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I buy both - collections and standalones.

As to how I pick, I'm not sure - from various blogs (such as Alain Gomez's Book Brouhaha) or other sites I guess. If I want to check out a new author, I'll often see if they have a short story collection available and try that before any novels.

 

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I generally will buy a short story if I like the first paragraph....maybe a lame reason, but I feel like if you can't sell me then, you've lost me.

Kate
 

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I think that's a perfectly valid way of checking out a short story; I do it too sometimes.

Pre-Kindle, when I couldn't decide which of two books to buy in a bookshop, I based the decision purely on which had the best first line. (Although it the one I picked turned out to be dire, so maybe not so clever!)
 

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kateharp said:
I generally will buy a short story if I like the first paragraph....maybe a lame reason, but I feel like if you can't sell me then, you've lost me.

Kate
It's a fair statement. An author wants you to look, so if you come to that party, I think it's fair to say the author has to make sure it was worth your while.
 

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I never even look at short stories....you would think I would like them since I'm probably adult ADD,  but nope...If I could I would read the same book forever...I just lose myself in my reading.....hate it when a book ends. (well, if it's a good one that is)....
 

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kateharp said:
I generally will buy a short story if I like the first paragraph....maybe a lame reason, but I feel like if you can't sell me then, you've lost me.

Kate
Not lame, Kate.

If I don't care for the first paragraph of a book, I'll set it down and find something else. With so many good books available, there's not enough time in the day to read one that's bad or even so-so.
 

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I never read a short story until I got a kindle. Now I think it's a nice change. I always read 2 or 3 books at once so throwing in some short stories is a very good balance. My first set was "Feathers" by Kristina Jackson. They were very sweet stories, some with insprirational messages. It inspired me to write a short story and I had a lot fun doing it.

Lia
 

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I will read/buy both singles and collections.  I'll buy ebooks or physical copies (like the Penguin mini modern classics).  As others have said, the story has to grab me.  This is especially important for the short story because there are not 400 pages to make up for a slow start. 

As for how I choose them... I will occasionally make a pointed search online.  But most of my book shopping is done from either browsing around a bookstore or going through Amazon's customers also bought list.
 

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As a writer, I like to read shorts in publications like Glimmertrain, Minnetonka Reveiw and other short story compilations. I like to read what's new and fresh and then I'll also pick up shorts by Mark Twain and Falkner. It's all good, just depends on my mood, what I'm looking for, what grabs me or what I'm currently writing myself. Good luck.
 
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