A couple of months ago, I did a post called Novellas and Short Stories–Ebooks Not Just for Novels. It turned out to be pretty popular with authors, and why not? It takes a long time to write a novel, so there’s a definite appeal to writing and publishing short works…if they sell.
I hope other authors will chime in below, but based on my experience I’m going to say…
Yes. Not as well as full-length novels, but you can find plenty of examples of shorter works doing well in the Kindle Store (and other places as well).
I haven’t tried selling a short story (less than 10,000 words) yet, though my Ice Cracker II is available for free at Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. The minimum price you can list an ebook for is $0.99, and that always seemed a little steep to me for such a short piece of fiction.
However, I did release Flash Gold, an 18,000-word steampunk novella (if you want to be picky, you might call it a novelette) at the beginning of April. It’s my third best seller, after The Emperor’s Edge and Encrypted, and it’s already covered its production costs, thanks to a good deal on cover art and the fact that editors charge by the word (it costs a lot less to have someone proofread a 20,000-word story than a 100,000-word one). That said, some of the reviews do say they wish it was longer (demanding folks, hah!).
In addition to turning novellas and short stories into ebooks, you can also do collections of short stories. I have two of those, and they’re my weakest sellers (especially the children’s one). Of course, I haven’t marketed that one in months, and I haven’t marketed the three-story fantasy collection at all, so that may affect sales.
I think, though, that short story collections or anthologies just aren’t that popular. I have to admit I’m unlikely to buy them. The exception would be if I already knew and liked the characters from a book series and the same characters were in the short stories. (That’s how my fantasy short story bundle works–it features the heroes from The Emperor’s Edge.)
That said, if you have a bunch of short stories collecting dust on your hard drive (maybe you wrote them to submit to magazines and anthologies at one point), you can certainly put them together and turn them into an ebook. I do make some sales with my short story bundles, even if it’s not a lot, and 25 or 50 sales a month can certainly add up over the life an ebook.
I thought I’d poke through Amazon and find a few examples of shorter fiction that’s selling well at the time of this post. To the best of my knowledge, I only picked indie and non-free stories. Check them out for ideas or if you’re just curious to see what’s selling:
- Matchmakers 2.0 (A Novel Nibbles title) >> Based on the sales ranking, Debora Geary is doing tremendously well with her “Novel Nibbles.” This is the more popular of the two she has out now.
- Desperate Desires (A Sweet and Spicy Novella) >> Terri Wolffe’s story is selling well, especially considering this is the only ebook she has in the Kindle Store and it’s priced at $3.50 (pretty expensive for a “novella”)
- To Dream with the Dragons (Hyborean Dragons) >> This 25,000-word novella is by BV Larson, a science fiction and fantasy indie who’s doing extremely well for himself.
- Flash Gold (a steampunk novella set in the Yukon) >> My own success is modest compared to these other authors, but you’re welcome to take a peep at my novella as well. It’s looking like it’ll sell about 150 copies in May.
There you go: some folks doing well with short fiction!
What are your thoughts on short story, novelette, or novella ebooks? If you’re a reader, do you like buying these shorter works? If you’re an author, are they selling well for you?