This post was originally published on the blog “Cordelia Calls It Quits“, as part of a special series entitled “Cordelia’s Mom Is Still Hanging in There” (“Cordelia’s Mom Is (the) S.H.I.T.” for short.) 🙂
Sadly, it’s still as true today as it was when first published.
Everyone has been telling me what a wonderful writer I am—not just family and friends, but people I’ve never met who are now my readers! My readers tell me they look forward to each of my new stories.
Predictably, this went right to my head.
Since I’m so wonderful, I thought, maybe it’s time to find a way to get paid for writing. It would be nice to have even a little extra income so that maybe I could retire at 65 instead of 70. Or maybe I could help Cordelia through her current difficult financial times.
I began Googling “buyers of short stories.” A light bulb lit up in my head when I came across an article touting Kindle Singles and indicating that anyone could submit short stories. I found the link for the Kindle Singles site and carefully read the requirements. The site says:
“A Kindle Single can be on any topic. So far we’ve posted fiction, essays, memoirs, reporting, personal narratives, and profiles, and we’re expanding our selection every week. We’re looking for high-quality writing, fresh and original ideas, and well-executed stories in all genres and subjects.”
Hell, my writing is high-quality, fresh and original, etc. Time to go for it!
Cordelia’s Mom Goes For It
The first step was simply to send an email to Kindle Singles attaching the work in progress, or a portion of it, along with a “cover letter with a detailed summary of the submission.” After submission, the selection process seemed fairly straightforward:
“Each submission is carefully reviewed by our editors. Once your submission is received, we will read and respond within four weeks. If we are interested in your submission or pitch, we will provide you with further instructions on how to submit your title via Kindle Direct Publishing and any additional next steps.”
Easy enough. I spent an entire Sunday polishing up two brand new, unpublished “Cordelia’s Mom” stories, and late Sunday night, off they went via email to Kindle Singles. Imagine my gasp of surprise (and hope) when I received a responding email on Monday morning with the “further instructions.”
I admit I was a little suspicious that the response came back so quickly. It was also a little unsettling that the response kept referring to submission of books rather than short stories. It did occur to me that it might be a response that was automatically generated by some computer wherever Kindle has their headquarters, and that probably no one had actually even read my submission.
But, being somewhat of an optimist, I went ahead and signed up for my Kindle Direct Publishing account, providing my legal name, address, Social Security number, and bank information. (Yes, I knew that was probably somewhat stupid, but it did seem to be a secure site, and I was ready to be published!)
I then learned that short story submissions are normally a minimum of 5,000 words, and my stories are always less than that. How could I get around that? Another light bulb: “Cordelia’s Mom TwoFers”! Each TwoFer would feature one previously unpublished story, coupled with one reformatted and improved post from the blog. (Yes, improved. I know, is that even possible?) Surely that would meet the 5,000 word requirement, and would also get around the instruction that the submissions to Kindle Singles be “not published on any public website in its entirety.”
The excitement began to build…
Those of you who have gone ahead of me in this whole writing business are probably laughing your asses off right about now.
I walked around for a day or two calculating in my head how much I would charge for each story, and then tallying up how much I could expect to earn from the royalties on each one. Yes! It wouldn’t be an enormous amount, but possibly it would supplement my upcoming Social Security enough that I wouldn’t have to work until I drop.
At some point, I decided to look at the Kindle Singles already being offered.
That’s when the bubble burst.
Janet Evanovich is offering a 35-page Kindle Single for 99 cents. Steven King is offering a 47-pager for 79 cents.
But, I wasn’t dead in the water yet. Sure, I’m not anywhere near the writing ability of those two outstanding authors, but my writing is unique and is non-fiction and exceedingly entertaining. My readers are continually complimenting my awesomeness—would new readers be any less impressed? Why wouldn’t people be willing to pay 75 cents or so to entertain themselves with my wonderful stories?
Still, there was that story length issue. I began reworking my first TwoFer. No matter how much I padded it, I could only get up to just over 4,000 words (13 pages total, what with an added introduction and whatever other fluff I could throw in). As any writer knows, adding verbiage simply for the sake of making a piece longer is useless—it just bogs the story down. After all, I had already said what I wanted to say, I did it concisely, and there wasn’t anything more.
Finally, I had to realize: really short stories on Kindle Singles, and stories by unknown authors, are being offered for free. Why would I do that when I’m already giving my stories to the world for free through this blog?
At that point, the burst bubble simply evaporated.
At least for the time being, I will not be submitting anything to Kindle Singles. Maybe at some point in the future, after I’ve written many more stories, I can create an entire book compiling my work. By then, I anticipate having enough of a following that the book will sell.
For now, I am content with all the glowing support I get from my current readers.
And a little wine on a Friday night always helps.
PS: If anyone knows of a legitimate buyer of short stories, please pass that along. I haven’t given up yet!
Cordelia’s Mom always loves to hear from her readers and can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image: Bluestar Tam