The Great Short Story Ebook Experiment

I finally did it — I took several of my previously published short stories and made them available as e-books. They’re currently up on Amazon and over the next few days I’ll be making them available on B&N, Kobo, and Smashwords.
I made the plunge for several reasons:

* New readers. There are tons and tons of people out there who enjoy and buy e-books (including short stories) on places like Amazon, but aren’t an active part of SF/F fandom and aren’t even aware of some of the fine magazines and anthologies these stories appeared in originally. An optimal scenario for me is to have someone who’s never heard of me before buy an e-book, love it, pick up the other ones, and then come over to this page to see what else I’m up to.

* The skills. After working on this project, on and off, for the last month I have learned several things. I have a very rudimentary understanding of how to create a book cover and how GiMP works. I learned how to create a digital book from scratch. I learned how to format it properly for various e-readers and platforms. These are all skills that will likely come in handy as I work on future UFO Publishing projects (though I’d still much rather let professional cover artists and book designers create THOSE books, at least I can understand some of what they’re doing better).

* The data. I want to know as much as possible about the business. What sort of sales can I, as an author, generate on each platform? Which promotions and advertising works, and which doesn’t? Posting a few short stories is a low-budget way to tip the toe in the self-publishing waters and see what’s up.

* The money. Seriously, I don’t expect much. Each of these stories is priced at $0.99 and when one sells, Amazon will give me $0.35 of it. So I won’t be putting my kid through college off these short story sales. Probably. But… who knows, right? What is one of these goes viral? Once the e-book has been created and uploaded, there is no more cost to keeping it online indefinitely — in either time or money. Even before I had the chance to write this post and “officially” announce the existence of these particular e-books, several people bought “The Dragon Ships of Tycho.” At this rate I’m getting dangerously close to earning enough for a medium coffee from Dunkin Donuts.

I’m no expert on self-publishing, but I did have several ideas in mind that I hope will help make these e-books successful (besides writing the best possible stories I can, of course):

* Offer a well-edited, well-formatted, easy to read book. You’ll be surprised at how many self-published books (novels, even) are poorly edited and poorly formatted. I spent a fair amount of time making sure this wasn’t the case with my stories.

* Offer more to read. I intentionally waited until I could publish several stories at once that stand a good chance of appealing to similar readers. This way, should a reader happen to enjoy the story, there’s something else they can pick up right away. Each of these stories features a little ad for the other two at the end of the book.

* Great cover art. I can’t stress how important this is. There are so many self-published and small publisher books out there with mediocre covers. I really wanted my stories to stand out and spent a lot of time looking for perfect pieces for each story. I was fortunate enough to team up with several amazing artists from around the globe. The art is theirs. The layout (in 2 of 3 cases) is mine — so don’t blame them for it!

Without further ado, here are the three stories:

The Dragon Ships of Tycho

Human diplomats race against the clock to forge an alliance with a one-time adversary who possesses a fleet of dragon warships.

Originally from the Galactic Creatures anthology edited by Elektra Hammond (Sparkito Press/Dark Quest Books)

Cover art is “Space One” by the British artist Andy Fairhurst.

Price of Allegiance

Earth’s ambassador to the Galactic Union wants his superiors to choose loyalty over technological advancement. But, when it comes to the interstellar politics, the choices are never what they seem.

Originally from Penumbra magazine (Musa Publishing)

Cover art is by the French artist Benoit Dromby

A Better Tomorrow

On a crippled spaceship, as the air is running out, one man must fight to protect the cryogenically frozen colonists, even at the cost of his own life.

Originally published in Interstellar Ficiton magazine.

Cover art and cover design by American artist Aimee Cozza

Unlike the other two stories, A Better Tomorrow is available online for free. You can read it here. So why publish an e-book, you ask? It’s all part of the experiment. As I wrote above, there are many people browsing and buying on the Kinde, Nook, and other devices who are not familiar with web zines, and I’m curious to see how the sales of this book will compare to the sales of the other two, which are not available online for free.

So there you have it. Let the experiment officially begin!

If you want to pick up one of these e-books or if you already read these stories and would like to do me a kindness of posting a brief review, please follow the links below:

The Dragon Ships of Tycho

Price of Allegiance

A Better Tomorrow

I will post the links to other sites once these books become available on there.


3 Responses to The Great Short Story Ebook Experiment

  1. […] thinking of publishing online (and who isn’t these days) might find this post by Alex Shvartsman useful. Hop to it before the computers get […]

  2. simonkewin says:

    Great stuff, Alex. I think it’s good to experiment with these things. And I love the covers, especially the way they look like they belong together.

  3. This is excellent.

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