Why I Self-Published My Short Story
Until two weeks ago, I didn’t know self-publishing short stories was a thing. I found out that you can publish your work (of any length) in eBook form via Kindle Direct Publishing. In fact, there is even a special unit within Kindle for selectively-published and curated works of fiction, nonfiction, commentary—anything, really—called “Kindle Singles: Compelling Ideas Expressed at Their Natural Length.” The idea is that works should be published in the length that suits them. They shouldn’t be chopped down into a 1500-word short story or fluffed up into a 300-page novel just to suit the market.
Anything other than book-length works are traditionally difficult to sell and market. The novel is king. Even volumes of short stories and essays are a tough sell in a bookstore. But in this digital age when everyone is in a hurry and expects information on demand—anything and everything with the click of a button—it makes sense that digital short stories might be the wave of the future. Most people have less time to read, have shorter attention spans, and are accessing their reading material on their devices.
Instead of submitting to literary magazines, I decided to publish my most recent short story with Kindle Direct Publishing, Amazon’s eBook publishing unit, out of curiosity. I’m always looking to expand my knowledge of the writing and publishing world and I took on this project as an experiment to learn how it’s done; to see if more people will be exposed to my work; and if, by chance, I might make some money to compensate for the time and effort I expended researching and writing the story. I don’t want to go the self-publishing route with my novel-in-progress, but I might consider self-publishing something one day.
The main concern I had in doing this was getting involved with Amazon, which is wonderful for readers, but not so friendly to writers and publishers. I debated whether or not it would be like selling my soul to the Devil. As a Seattle-area native and a writer, I have strong feelings about Amazon.
As much as I love two-day shipping and the convenience of buying anything I could possibly want while in my pajamas, the Amazon Empire has invaded the city that I have known and loved and completely changed the landscape of entire neighborhoods to the point of unrecognizability. It has led to rampant development and “revitalization” that has destroyed hundreds of historically significant architectural gems. It has driven up housing prices so that nobody but Amazonians can afford to live here. It has made traffic and parking a constant nightmare. And I won’t even get started with what the company has done to bookstores and the publishing industry! Amazon is a company that I love to hate.
So, we’ll see how this works out. It’s too early to tell what the outcome will be. I haven’t yet developed a marketing strategy, but you can help!
If you’re inclined, I’d appreciate it if you’d give it a read. You needn’t own an e-reader. You can download the free Kindle app to your Mac, PC, iPhone, or Android device. Then, find “Taking the Waters: A Ghost Story.” If you’re a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, you can access the story for free. Otherwise, it’s a mere 99 cents—less than the price of a candy bar! If you like the story, please rate it. Ratings are really important to tell readers whether or not a thing is worth their time, and can make or break a book (or story).
“Taking the Waters” is based on true occurrences and delves into the fascinating and tragic history of Pacific Northwest pioneers. It isn’t high literature, but I had a lot of fun writing it, and I hope you’ll have fun reading it!