Tag Archives: short stories

Rebirth of the Short Read

How times change! By times, I really mean trends. Not two years ago, I emailed a well-known promotional site for eBooks and asked if it was possible to have my short story, Edge of the World, promoted.


The site owner’s reply was swift and to the point: he did not bother to promote shorts because no one wrote or read them any more. His opinion was based on his long-term experience in the business. He advised me to offer a full novel as a free download. It did not matter that I was willing to pay the same price as I’d pay to promote a full novel.
Fast forward to the present. Go into the Amazon site and click on Kindle Store. Scroll down on the left panel to Kindle Short Reads. In parenthesis, you will see the number 1,194,877.  That is the number of short reads being offered by Amazon at the moment.  That’s right. There are over a million shorts featured on Amazon!


Two years ago, the shorts on Amazon were mainly offered by self-published authors on non-fiction topics such as do-it-yourself soap making, organizing projects, cooking recipes, etc. I wrote my first fiction short with the idea that someone who might not be tempted to spend $3.99 on my full novel, would test the waters with a free or 99 cent story.


I have found many readers for my novels in such a way. My short story Edge of the World is an intro into my Daniel’s Fork series. My recent Vampire, Not Monster is the prequel to Angel’s Guardian. Readers who read these shorts, often become fans of the full-length novels. Others find my work not to their taste, and move on without having incurred the expense or the time investment.
It seems that since that “experienced promoter” gave me his take on shorts, the traditional authors have discovered the value of offering shorts as promotional tools. A quick scan of the Kindle Shorts menu shows that Amazon sorts them into groups by reading time and estimated by number of pages: 15 mins, 30 mins, 45 mins, 1 hour, 90 mins, and two hours or more. 

This is great because the reader might not want to invest three days on a book, but he or she might not care for a 15-minute read either. I personally like a two-hour read. If you want something to keep you busy on the commute train ride home from work, a shorter read might be your thing.
Now, go back and click on the “Two Hours or more” shorts (65-100 pages) and scroll down and over the next few pages. What do you notice? That’s right! Some of the top best-selling traditional authors are offering shorts. 

As I write this post, the #2 listing is J.K. Rowling (Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies). A few covers down is Catherine Coulter’s The Resident Evil at Blackthorn Manor. A few more scrolls down is Debbie Macomber’s The Apartment. On the next page is Diana Galbalon’s Virgins. Other authors that you will find if you keep scrolling will be JR Ward, John Grisham, Lauren K. Hamilton, Craig Johnson, and many others.



Short stories are not just for your high-school lit class any more. They are growing in popularity for many reasons. First, they do not require a large investment of time. Many of today’s readers like starting a story and finishing in the time it takes to get a suntan or ride a bus to work. 

Next, short reads normally entail a much smaller cost, anywhere from free to $2.99, with your traditional authors pricing them a few dollars higher than your self-pubbed ones and rarely offering free downloads. 

A short is also a great way to test the author’s style and quality with little investment on your part. I always know whether I like the author or not, or if the series is one I want to read, after reading only a chapter or two. 

My own short story Vampire, Not Monster introduces two important characters from the Angel’s Guardian novel, and it gives the reader an over-all feel for the series. If you don’t like the short, you will probably not care for the novel.



Finally, shorts provide extra material that often could not be worked into a complete book. Often, the story develops a side character that fascinates us; one we want very much to see again. An example of this is the short  Father Mine by JR Ward. The main characters are the vampire warrior Zadist and his mate Bella. These characters already have their own novel, but I wanted to see more of them. This story is one of my favorites because it fits seamlessly into the long series.


Now, having touted the virtues of the short, I must also touch on the commercial aspect of the Amazon lineup. The listings are peppered with a great number of erotica. It seems that anyone who can come up with a few pages of step-sister and step-father porn  (excuse me) erotica, has done so. 

This is not limited to just Amazon. The Smashwords listings and many other sellers are also crowded with short pornographic work masquerading as “erotica.” Please, do not let this be an obstacle. Scrolling down is easy and costs nothing.
Many of the short reads are non fiction, not short stories. Many are manuals. For instance, there are shorts on recipes, Temple Run secrets, wilderness survival, Twitter use, blah, blah, blah. There is even a short on how to make your own Cannabis extract. Still, this is not bad because whatever your taste, you’ll find something to suit you.

Below are some FREE and $0.99 short reads I thought you might like. Most are Amazon links but not all. I chose stories with good reviews and some by authors whose work I like. My own Edge of the World is there too. Enjoy!

$0.99 at Amazon



FREE at Amazon. This is an anthology of shorts.




FREE at Amazon


FREE at Amazon


$0.99 at Amazon



FREE at Amazon


$0.99 Here

FREE at Amazon


FREE at Amazon


FREE at Amazon
FREE at Instafreebie


FREE at Amazon



FREE at Amazon
FREE at Instafreebie
$0.99 at Amazon

Buy the Cow!


Only a fool buys what he can get for nothing. Remember the old adage: Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? It still stands!

Recently, I tried to promote a short story that I offered as a free download. I found that most promo sites do not accept promos for short stories. In fact, most of the guidelines specify that books must be over 100 pages.

I messaged the admin of a well-known promo site. I asked if it was possible that they could offer a limited service for short stories. I believe there is a market for them, and many authors who hate to give away months of hard work, offer shorts instead.

I received a prompt answer from the site’s owner. He informed me that most readers did not read short stories. He knows that because he has been in the business for six years. He said that his customers expected free books, and that most authors had at least one free offering of a full-length novel.

Now, I had just read an article that stated that short reads are very popular right now. (See article.) The rise of the iPhone and tablet as reading tools has had a great effect on our reading habits because they are so convenient for reading short works. It also stated that the younger people love things they can finish while they ride the train or bus home, sit at Starbucks for a few minutes, or wait at a doctor’s appointment.

It seems to me that this site owner is doing what is best for his business, not mine. Of course he wants full free books. He also wants my money. He has a great business going. He gives away my product and charges me to do it! He buys nothing, stocks nothing, and pays nothing. If I am giving away my work, why does he not also give me a free ride? Why not make money out of advertisements or a minimal charge to the readers? But no, the cost must be all mine.

My opinion is that if a reader will like my writing, he or she does not need a full thirty chapters to do so. Normally, A few chapters into a book, I know whether to finish it or put it away. Everyone can download the 20% sample of my books at Amazon and Smashwords. If the reader is not hooked with that 20%, then he or she will never buy the book or the next.

A few years back, when the self-publishing craze was new, I read a free book by Monique Martin, fell in love with it, and have bought all her other books since. There were then only a few hundred authors giving away a first book as free. It was easy for me to find her.

Today, I do a search for free romance books, and I have to scroll through 100 plus pages of Amazon offerings. A quick search in Amazon using the words “Free books for Kindle” gave me 205,204 books! “Free romance books for Kindle” gave me 13,656 books.

Those are Permafree books. Those results do not include the temporarily free books on Kindle promotion. If your book is not in the first five pages of the search, it gets lost in the multitude.

I could no longer see the benefit in spending $100 dollars promoting my book in several sites to give away another $1,345.50 worth of my work, (450 copies at $2.99 each, downloaded for free) to make back $90 in residual sales. Meanwhile, the site owner makes a killing, and the readers stock piles of free offerings. Most are never opened.

Some people will quickly argue “exposure.” Exposure is the magic word that holds us all prisoners. It is the antidote to the poison. It is the word that holds the self-published author at bay, and keeps him feeding his life’s blood to the promotion sites.

My answer is that you can get a lot of exposure without giving your work away. But wait: we are already giving our work away when a reader downloads that 20% sample at Amazon or Smashwords.

When is enough, enough? When do we stop feeding the sharks, those lurking to snatch anything free with absolutely no intention of ever buying or even reading? (See this article.) When do we stop making money for others who have invested nothing in our work?

I have placed prices on everything I have on sale. Even my short stories are now priced at $1.99. I am giving away.

I now rely on my blog and author sites for that vaunted exposure. One thing I do believe is that I may have markedly fewer downloads, but because the reader paid something, he or she is more likely to open the book, to review, and to fall in love with my writing and buy the next book.