Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Thinking About Kindle Singles

I've been thinking about the "Kindle Singles" subsection of Amazon's Kindle shop, and whether it's a reputable platform through which to publish short stories and novellas. I happen to have a 10,000 word short story that needs a home, and I'm seriously considering whether Kindle Singles might be it.

I'm trying to let Second Second Draft of my novel, "Soci of Metro", drain from my brain so I can read over said draft, as well as reader feedback, with a fresher pair of eyes. I'd originally hoped for a couple of months free from the 130,000 monster I'd created, except one of my readers finished the thing in two weeks. What can I say, my mum's a quick reader. Yet in those two weeks I managed to go over one of my fondest short stories, a tale I call "Red Therapy".

Looking back at the short stories I wrote in the year before rewriting Soci of Metro, it's clear that some of them, while personally ambitious at the time, aren't worth shouting about. In fact, I'm a tad embarrassed that I'd tried to sell some of them at all.

Red Therapy always had potential, and I did the best I could with the tools I had at the time. But it deserved better. So I wrestled with it and polished it and cut bits here and added bits there and made the gritty parts grittier and the shiny parts shinier and… well I managed to turn a a 6,000 word story I was never truly happy with, into a 10,000 word story I'm proud of.

The problem is, 10,000 words is a lot for a modern short story. It's a conformable length for a reader looking for a a moderately meaty story to read in a sitting or two, but not a conformable length for the majority of paying markets out there. Most of the publications on my super-mega publication spreadsheet are looking for stories in the 3,000-6,000 word range, with only the likes of Analog, Black Static, and Fantasy & Science Fiction accepting stories at 10,000 words and beyond. And good luck to anyone trying to get published in those.

It's a conundrum: Red Therapy feels right at 10,000 words in a way it didn't before. Likewise, it doesn't need to be any longer. Red Therapy isn't a novel, and couldn't be a novel; not even a novella. But assuming the publications mentioned send rejection slips my way (sheer probability suggests they will) then where else can Red Therapy to go?

As far as I'm concerned, the world of self-publishing via Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing isn't a glamorous one. There's good fiction on there, but there's a hell of a lot of garbage too. It's a similar situation with Steam, Valve's digital videogame shop. There's so much low quality content available to purchase, that genuinely good games get lost amongst the junk, and only those with decent publicity have a chance of making it. It's not a ring I want to throw my hat into. At least for now.

But to become published via Kindle Singles actually requires sending a pitch to Amazon's in-house editors. Those who pass the test have the opportunity to sell short pieces of fiction or non-fiction at a low price with a decent profit percentage. Even so, the charts are still filled by the likes of Lee Child, Lee Child, and Lee Child. Not bad fiction, but popular fiction. So would Red Therapy, a 10,000 word story by an unknown author make a splash? Once again, probability says no.

But it's on my mind. If Red Therapy isn't accepted by AnalogBlack Static, or Fantasy & Science Fiction, then it's not necessarily due to the story's quality—although it might be—and therefore its worth shoving under the noses of the Kindle Singles editors. Right? Right…?


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