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Improbability is in the Details
Abra Staffin-Wiebe's Journal
Ebooks - The Afterlife of Short Stories? 
1st-Jan-2013 01:01 pm
I'm running an ebook experiment with one of my previously published stories. It was first published in Jim Baen's Universe and the issue it was published in is still available to buy through their website. It's about 12,000 words, so the non-exclusive reprint markets were limited. I've sent it around to all of them.

So now I'm pondering the afterlife of short(ish) stories. What do you do with the darn things, aside from keeping an eye on themed anthologies that take reprints? I feel like they should be kept working...somehow.

My experiment:

Step 1. I've put "Salvaging Scottwell" up on Smashwords and Amazon (via the regular KDP program). Smashwords can take up to 3 weeks before the ebook appears in all the different venues they distribute to (B&N, Apple's ibookstore, etc.). My plan is to wait a statistically significant time to see how sales go once the initial bump (caused by me telling fans, friends, and family) subsides. Probably at least a couple of months.

Step 2. Then I'll withdraw it from Smashwords (which is really easy) and put it into the KDP Select program, which requires exclusivity but may increase visibility in the Amazon Kindle store, which is the largest market for ebooks. I'll also opt into the Kindle library loan program. Again, I will wait a statistically significant time.

Step 3. I'll give the freebie promotion a shot for a couple of days, point it out on the Kindle free boards, etc., and see if there's a resultant bump in sales afterward and, if so, how long it lasts. By this time I may also have another ebook up for purchase, so it would be interesting to see the effects on that, too.

I think this is an interesting experiment for two reasons in particular. First, I'm a relatively unknown writer--I've sold a dozen or so short stories, but that's it. Second, this is a 12,000 word novelette, not a novel. I've heard rumors that shorter works might have a revival through the ebook market, and I'm interested to see how accurate that might be.

I'll be reporting as I go along, hard numbers and comparisons and all that fun stuff. In the last couple of days, I've sold 4 copies through Amazon and 3 through Smashwords. We'll see how it goes!

Any other suggestions for how to put a previously printed story to work? I would have also put this on AnthologyBuilder, but they are not currently accepting submissions.

Posts in This Series
Ebooks - The Afterlife of Short Stories?
Ebooks - The First Bump
Ebooks - The Chirping of the Crickets
1st-Jan-2013 10:40 pm (UTC)
Hi! This is very much what I did when, after writing a handful of related short stories, one of them sold to a good market, but the others did not, and I couldn't find alternate markets for stories of that particular cross-genre type and length. I compiled three stories into a collection titled 'Three Wishes.' I put it up on Smashwords and Amazon (and made a POD version available via Lulu). In a year or two it made about $30 - with minimal promotion on my part.

Earlier this year I enrolled it in the Kindle Select program. I offered a free download day and about 300 copies were downloaded for free, putting the book in the top ten of the best-seller list for its category. In the following days about 20 copies sold.

Joan Verba was kind enough to share her list of Twitter and Facebook sites for promoting such free download days and I timed my most recent free download day to coincide with the release of my novella ('Sweet Mercy') via Champagne Books.

I included a sneak preview of the novella in 'Three Wishes,' promoted the heck out of the download day and got 3,315 downloads, a boost to the top 10 of the best-seller list in its category, and over thirty actual sales in the following days. So, not only a boost in sales, but free promotion for 'Sweet Mercy,' by putting the sneak preview into the hands of over three thousand readers.
2nd-Jan-2013 03:13 pm (UTC)

Did you notice a higher level in sales in KDP Select once the initial spike had gone down?

Um...could I get that list?

And yeah, sounds like a lot of the benefit to the free is that then there are other things to buy. Though I like that there's actually a bump in sales afterward.
2nd-Jan-2013 10:41 pm (UTC)
Sales before and after the promotional spike are pretty rare, given how unknown a writer I am.

The sales spike lasted about a week this last time and earned me nearly seventy dollars. I don't know if that's likely to be matched on subsequent promotions, if those who are interested all act on the first offer, there may be fewer interested parties next time.

Sure! These are the sites Joan referred me to for promoting the Kindle Select free download days:

First of all, use the short form of the link when promoting your book, i.e.:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B003YMMJDW (you don't need the word salad that may show up after the book's identifying number in the URL bar)

A lot of these places ask 1-2 weeks advance notice, but Snickslist wants the reviews on the day of the promotion:
Collection of promotion sites:

On Facebook: be sure to list your ebook promotion at:


For Kindle Korner, direct mail them, and for Free Books for Kindle, Nook, and More
be sure to sign up in advance of the promotion

On Twitter, make sure to use the hashtags
#FreeKindleBooks #FreeKindleEbooks Announcement: Free download Today: {content}+ http://www.amazon.com/dp/

@AuthorKarma Announcement: Free download
@4FreeKindleBook Announcement: Free download
@WorldLitCafe - just use hashtag #WLC Announcement: Free download
@IndieKindle - just use hashtag #IndieKindle Announcement: Free download
3rd-Jan-2013 04:25 am (UTC)
Gotcha--and thanks for all the links!
3rd-Jan-2013 03:08 pm (UTC)
You betcha.
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