I'm thinking of putting together a collection of my short stories, plus some poetry and maybe an essay or two, on Kindle.

I was inspired by Mike Allen publishing his SteamPowered, Steampunk Lesbian Stories story Sleepless, Burning Life as a stand-alone Kindle novellette.

I do not expect to become a millionaire (step one: obscure author best known for memoir self-publishes publishes obscure fantasy stories; step two: ???, step three: PROFIT), but I think it might be fun, and there are a handful of people out there who would probably enjoy such a thing.

I have two question:

1. Whether or not you would actually purchase such a thing, is there anything in particular or in general that you'd want to have in it?

Already decided upon: all three of my published short stories, plus all poems nominated for the Rhysling.

Most fanfic is out due to copyright issues, but I do have one story which was inspired by a Carter & Grammar song, and works as original fantasy. I have a couple other stories which I like but couldn't sell, plus poems ditto.

2. O Kindle self-publishers, please advise and tell tales from the trenches! How did you get your cover art? Was it profitable (at all?) What price points worked best for you? Did you advertise?
daedala: line drawing of a picture of a bicycle by the awesome Vom Marlowe (Default)

From: [personal profile] daedala

A few years ago, [livejournal.com profile] naomikritzer had some extensive posts on doing ebooks. Jim Hines has also talked about making his, more recently.

It would depend somewhat on price, but I'd almost certainly buy one.

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From: [personal profile] daedala - Date: 2012-06-27 06:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
zvi: self-portrait: short, fat, black dyke in bunny slippers (Default)

From: [personal profile] zvi

Please don't just do a Kindle version.

If you get it into any other store that sells ePUB (like B&N or Kobo or Google Play or Omnilit or Smashwords), then people who use ePUB can buy your book and put it on your device. Kindle-only cuts you off from half the ebook market.

Furthermore, an ePub converts painlessly to Kindle mobi, and mobi converts only slightly less painlessly to ePub, so you aren't in for a giant technical headache to do both.
lnhammer: lo-fi photo of a tall, thin man - caption: "some guy" (Default)

From: [personal profile] lnhammer

Well, I'd say the conversion is almost painless in both directions, based on my experience anyway. Depends on the formatting.

But aside from that, YES -- THIS.


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From: [personal profile] torrilin

I can't swear I'd buy it... I mean, I read the memoir, and I read some of the fanfic you commit. But I'm not hugely fond of buying poetry to read instead of buying poetry set to music. I buy lots and lots of poetry, but mostly it's on rock albums.

At this point I'm reading more books in electronic form than paper, and over the next 6 months, it's probably going to be 100% electronic. I'm having hand surgery in a month... So here's what I've observed from reading a lot of ebooks.

Emma Bull did an ebook edition of Finder, which is one of my favorite books. She made it available through Barnes and Noble (only, and so far). (I haven't reread it yet, saving it for an after surgery treat) So I had to jump through about 6 hoops to buy it from Barnes and Noble, strip their DRM off it, and stuff it onto my iThing so I would actually be able to find it again later. I have a very feeble brain, and if my electronic books are not in iBooks on my iThing, I'll forget they're there. That was a lot of hassle, and I would not bother for an untried author. (and yes, I am positive having stuff up for sale in multiple places and formats is at least as much of a hassle)

$2.99 to me is a "sale" price. I will sometimes try a new author out at that price, or grab something where I like the author but am not sure about the book (I tried Shades of Milk and Honey that way, and ended up preordering the sequel as soon as I finished). $3.99 is also cheap, but I am less dubious about it. $0.99 it's either not a novel or it's slush. I do not buy slush, and while I love short stories and novellas, I'm basically never going to buy 'em as a standalone. $7.99-$14.99 is regular price in my head. I expect New! Exciting! releases to be like $9.99 and up. $7.99 to me screams backlist. I will gleefully pay $7.99 on up for an anthology of short stories, and I won't go trying to work out whether it's a good deal. That said, if it's a multi-author anthology, I do need to be able to work out who is in it (not an issue for you, but a lot of publishers muck this up) and whether there are at least 3 stories I want to read. I grew up with a subscription to Analog, and a good issue had 3 stories I liked... and that metric has stuck with me ever since.

(commenting here because apparently LJ comments hate me today)

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From: [personal profile] torrilin - Date: 2012-06-28 07:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
dorothean: detail of painting of Gandalf, Frodo, and Gimli at the Gates of Moria, trying to figure out how to open them (Default)

From: [personal profile] dorothean

I would definitely buy and read a collection of your short stories. I love it when writers make their short stories easy to find all together.
kore: (Default)

From: [personal profile] kore

I would totally buy it!

Yeah, probably the cover seems the biggest issue with ebooks, which is....weird, considering they don't actually have 'covers.' But I've seen a lot of people put off by crappy art, or no art. I think for me a good price point would be between $3.99 and $7.99 - anything higher and people balk, anything lower and yeah, "slush pile." I'm usually willing to pay much more than people I know for ebooks, though. And definitely don't do just Kindle formatting.

re poetry - sometimes the e-formatting I have seen on that is _atrocious._ I'd be careful to double-check it, or test it somehow. I rarely buy poetry or drama for my Kindle because on the few occasions I have, the line breaks are totally screwed up and they also tend to just break up on the very small format, and there's no way to rotate the viewing like on a tablet (at least as far as I can make out) to fix that. It might not bug other people but I grew up reading poetry in the format where each line has just one line to itself, so it tends to annoy me.
lnhammer: lo-fi photo of a tall, thin man - caption: "some guy" (Default)

From: [personal profile] lnhammer

Yes, about getting the proper formatting on poetry. Rachel, I've been doing a lot of that in eBooks, and am more than happy to share some of the tricks for making line-breaks work out (including how to make things wrap at the margin with a hanging indent -- absolutely essential given many readers will use larger font sizes for readability).


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From: [personal profile] holyschist - Date: 2012-07-04 06:30 am (UTC) - Expand
holyschist: Image of a medieval crocodile from Herodotus, eating a person, with the caption "om nom nom" (Default)

From: [personal profile] holyschist

[personal profile] qian posted recently about selfpublishing her novella (?) as an ebook!

From: [identity profile] dancinghorse.livejournal.com

Moi aussi.

For cover art, I've used public-domain images from Wikimedia Commons, then traded services for design via Book View Cafe. There are people who design ebook cover art. Prices in the low three-figure range mostly.

Ebook sales are a real crap shoot. If yours hits a nerve or a list, it will soar. No way to tell without doing it. Having a prior readership helps. So does having friends with different networks that might be interested in an ebook.

Golden point for pricing would be $1.99-4.99. 99 cents has become the province of the electronic slushpile. Over $5 tends to discourage casual browsers.

A free sample can help sell the book.

From: [identity profile] desperance.livejournal.com

My own covers so far were put together for me by friends. Friends are good. If you're willing and able to pay a couple of hundred bucks for a cover, the best I know come from Patrick Samphire's design service, 50 Seconds North. Whether a really good cover helps sales I cannot actually say, except to quote the mantra "You can't judge a book by its cover - but everybody does."

Profit? Eventual, I guess. So far I've put a couple of backlist novels up at BVC and Kindle, and they bring in a constant dribble. It is only a dribble, but it is constant. Note to self: I must get more work up! In more places! I have much!

I am sticking to $4.99 as a price point, because long ago someone said to me "Books aren't expensive, they're undervalued," and I cling to that. Stories I'm happy to go with $0.99 each (when I get 'em up there), but I'm not joining the incredibly-cheap-book bonanza.

I give the books an occasional mention in my blog, just a reminder that they're available. Otherwise, advertising? Not. I'm no good at the promotion game, and doubly so when it is so entirely self-promotion.

From: [identity profile] desperance.livejournal.com

(As witness, I linked to Patrick's service, and totally failed to link to my own books, which I should've been plugging. Hey-ho.)

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From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com - Date: 2012-06-27 06:06 pm (UTC) - Expand

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From: [identity profile] telophase.livejournal.com

...o dear lord i would make you a cover for free if it would save the world from another awful ebook cover...

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From: [identity profile] tool-of-satan.livejournal.com

1. I don't remember which of your poems were nominated for the Rhysling. I would like to see the golem poem and the nine oracles poem, among others.

The only other thing I would say is to, if possible, make it available in a format which does not require a dedicated e-reader. This is because I do not have one (yet - I am sure I will get one eventually).

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com

I think I can do that. I am going to get help on the technical side, because I have no idea how to do any of it.

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From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com - Date: 2013-04-17 11:23 pm (UTC) - Expand

From: [identity profile] qian.livejournal.com

From the trenches! Though I've only published the one ebook.

1. In replying to your comment about the ebook cover, I should've mentioned that the stock photo cost about £40 (it didn't have to cost £40 -- I could've got a free stock image somewhere else, but non-skeezy retro images of Asian ladies are HARD when you're searching in English, and I liked the image so much I had to have it). I just looked at some ebook covers I liked, stuck on some text onto the picture and blurred the edges in Gimp.

2./3. Not profitable! I'd say "so far" but that seems a bit optimistic. I think I've earned about 10 bucks, most of it from Smashwords, though the book's also on Amazon. My aim was to try to get more readers rather than earn money, though, which I think has worked, so I'm counting it as a win. I priced at $0.99 because my aim was to try to reach more readers.

4. I've obviously been cross-posting the story on DW and LJ; I've also been tweeting a lot, which seems to've worked better. I keep meaning to email ebook reviewers and ask them to review the book but haven't got around to it yet.

From: [identity profile] mroctober.livejournal.com

Well, there are a number of people who will design a cover for you for an ebook - which is different than a regular book because you need to focus on having it easily legible at a thumb-nail size. I can recommend a few.

As far as money, well, you need to have A LOT of product to make any significant income. I sell hundreds and hundreds of books to earn several thou a month. And that's as a publisher. Authors with only a few tales or books? Gosh, I don't know when they would reach a thou unless it's part of some genre craze.

Why not just sell someone like Lethe a short collection and be in print as well?

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com

You know, it didn't even occur to me that any actual publisher would want to pick up a collection of short stories from a virtual unknown. I will query Lethe, though. Several of the stories have lesbian protagonists.
ext_27060: Sumer is icomen in; llude sing cucu! (Daughter of Eve)

From: [identity profile] rymenhild.livejournal.com

I don't have a Kindle but would buy it as an ePub (Nook, etc) file.

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com

By "Kindle," I actually meant "e-book." I typed in my specific reader when I meant e-books in general.

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From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com - Date: 2013-04-17 11:24 pm (UTC) - Expand

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com

By "Kindle," I actually meant "e-book." I typed in my specific reader when I meant e-books in general.

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From: [identity profile] isabelknight.livejournal.com - Date: 2012-06-28 07:26 pm (UTC) - Expand

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From: [identity profile] fearlesstemp.livejournal.com

I don't have advice to offer, but I would love to buy such a book! Keep us posted!

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com

My e-book collection, A Cup of Smoke has finally come out! Thank you for your patience. ;)

From: [identity profile] ancientone.livejournal.com


I think this would be an interestin read. go for it!

From: [identity profile] oracne.livejournal.com

There's nothing to stop you from having a collection and also having each story available individually, in case some people only want the one story.

I earn a small trickle from my short stories - they're up mainly so people can get them, as I don't think individual short stories are a huge market. I do not advertise, except on my website. I paid around $50, including design plus image, for a cover for the collection, but just stuck free images on the covers of the shorts, which I wouldn't have done if I was trying for profit. Ought to do something better with those one day.

This is the cover I paid for - very simple.

Interesting factoid: story available for free on website in PDF format also gets regularly bought for Nook & Kindle - people who don't want to bother formatting it?

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