3 S.R. Johannes: The Magic of E-Books: Rediscovering the Short Story!

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Magic of E-Books: Rediscovering the Short Story!

Today, Rebecca Knight, self published author of over 40 short storie, writes out under various pen names and has seen so much success, she is now a full time writer.

Since I've known her a long time in the blogosphere (she was one of my first followers/blogger buddies back in the day :) - I asked her to stop by to discuss the rise of the short story in self pubbing.

Here she is :)


Hi Shelli,

One of the most exciting things about the indie publishing movement is that it's brought one of my favorite genres back into the mainstream: short fiction.

I've always loved short stories, and some of my favorite books growing up were collections of tales by Ray Bradbury, and more recently Neil Gaiman's "Smoke and Mirrors." When I first met my husband, we'd snuggle up on the couch, and he'd read me a short, delightfully weird story from that book, and I remember loving that we could experience an entire tale together in the space of a cup of tea after dinner. 

I've always been a fan of brevity, and it shows in my own writing. I like a tale boiled down to its very bones, raw and uncluttered, taking me through the action with no fluff to distract me from the beauty or horror of what I'm reading.

In the time of Dickens, people read serial stories published weekly or monthly. Several of the great novels from those English writers were actually small installments, short stories, in their original forms.

Since then, people have never stopped wanting short fiction, but for a long time, it wasn't cost effective to sell it to them in anything other than hardbound collections. But why buy a collection of several stories when you really want just one? It's like people having to buy a whole CD for that one song that really interested them.

That is, until iTunes changed the game.

Indie publishing and the rise of e-books gives authors the freedom to sell short stories just like they would novels, and now the artform is on the rise again.

The fun of a short story to me is that I can tell a story in the length it requires, instead of trying to jerry-rig it into a longer plot to make it publishable. 

For example, most ghost stories were meant to be short and either read under the covers with a flashlight, or read aloud to a group around a campfire. The "Ghosts" section of the kindle store only has about 3000 titles in it, compared to the 22,000 in the horror genre, and I think it's because certain tales are virtually impossible to tell in long form.

Those kinds of stories, the weird ones, or the ones that have a punchy, action-packed plot and a funny ending, are the ones I love to write :). I'm so grateful that I don't have to do them the injustice of trying to elongate them into something they weren't meant to be, but can instead sell them as stand-alones for .99 cents.

Check out, NO REST FOR THE WICKED, available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iTunes, for an example of one of my favorite short stories. It's two shorts bundled together about a Fairytale Assassin named Veronica Grim. 

Thank you so much, Shelli, for having me on your blog, and happy reading, everyone!


You can follow her blog and Twitter.


Rebecca said...

Thanks for this! Definitely something I will look into.

Jemi Fraser said...

SHort stories can be such fun! Off to check these out... :)

Linda Jackson said...

First of all, I'm jealous...

"When I first met my husband, we'd snuggle up on the couch, and he'd read me a short, delightfully weird story from that book, and I remember loving that we could experience an entire tale together in the space of a cup of tea after dinner."

No fair. My husband never reads to me. :(

Second, thanks for this post. As I was finalizing the last scenes in my current WIP, I told myself, "Don't make this story longer than it needs to be. Kids get tired of all those long books."

So, there. I got my confirmation. :)

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I've never been a fan of short stories, but I've definitely noticed the increase in popularity of them online. In fact, I think it's very good for the genre! Thanks for the great post!

Kate said...

I love short stories! I never felt that they went away. I have almost ever collection of Best American Short Stories on my bookshelf. Plus, I love literary magazines like the Sun and Tin House, which have SUCH amazing stuff in them. Inspiring!

Rebecca Knight said...

@Rebecca Awesome! Good luck with it!

@Jemi Thanks, lady! :D

@Linda I think you nailed it. You have the choice now to keep a story to whatever length is Right. Doesn't it feel good?

@Shannon Me, too! I love it when options open up for writers and readers.

@Kate Rock on! And now you can pick-and-choose your shorts from Amazon or B&N like buying a single song. Gotta love it :).

Thanks so much for having me, Shelli!!