So how hard is it to sell a short story collection in U.S.? Pretty damn hard, I will tell you that.
It’s a catch 22. No publisher will do your collection, unless you are super well-established. But if you are well-established, you probably won’t have time to write short stories. You’d be going for the kills — big 300-plus page novels and series of novels.
What about self-publishing? Well, the publishing part is super easy; especially when you have your short stories previously all published in magazines. That’s what I did with eight of my short stories that have been previously published in various magazines and of which the rights have reverted to me.
But the selling is hard. Bottom line is: very few people in this country read short stories for entertainment. When is that last time you spotted a trade paperback version of a short story collection in the racks of Walgreens?
To add insult to injury, most book promoters out there openly discriminate against the short form. BookBub, one of the tricksters that promote indie books available in Kindle store, openly rejects anything short of 50K words. It’s the portion of the meal that matters, not the meal itself.
By this Draconian “Size does matter” rule, BookBub would not even consider promoting Books like “Catcher in the Rye,” which has a word count barely at the 50K mark, let alone “The Postman Always Rings Twice,” of which the word count falls in between 20K to 30K.
So if Anton Chehkov or Guy de Maupassant were still alive today, they probably can’t sell their short stories either. They would be forced to write novels. Since they are not good with the long forms, they would just starve.
Or they could do it like me: self-publish their works. They could also be as lucky as me, and have some Amazon Top Ranking Reviewers look at the works and give them due credit.
Today, J. Chambers, who wears a “AMAZON TOP 50 REVIEWER” badge as well as a “REAL NAME” badge, gave my short story collection “Bitter Tea and Braided Hair” a 4-star! J (short for Jim) also wrote a heart-warming review, which I consider not only an encouragement for me alone, but all writers who are fond of the short form. The title of his review says: “The art of the short story is still alive!”
You can find his review here: http://amzn.to/120UVoe.
Simply put, people, it’s not the size of the burger that matter, it’s what the chef puts in it. The small ones could have truffles and Kobe’s in them; while the giant ones tend to be made from frozen patties, government cheese and industrially ripened tomatoes.
When a good story is presented in the short form, the author is respecting the readers’ intelligence. He or she has left the obvious unsaid. When the same concept is stretched, battered and deep fried and then coated with powder sugar and served with sides of mashed and Cajun fries, the author is underestimating the readers’ intelligence.