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Improbability is in the Details
Abra Staffin-Wiebe's Journal
Ebook Publication Experiment - The Chirping of the Crickets 
4th-Sep-2013 10:38 pm
I'm running an ebook experiment with one of my previously published stories, "Salvaging Scottwell." It was first published in Jim Baen's Universe. It's about 12,000 words, so the non-exclusive reprint markets were limited. I've sent it around to all of them. I had no expectations for how "Salvaging Scottwell" would do. It's a novelette, not a novel. I'm a relatively unknown science fiction author. Despite this, it does have good reviews posted on Amazon and Goodreads, so that may help.

I priced it at $.99 since that sounded about right for something less than a novel. In the first two weeks, I sold 18 copies. Call it the initial sales bump.

Then the crickets began to chirp.

The bulk of the sales took place in the last couple of days of December (I put it up December 30) and the month of January. There were two outlier sales in May (Apple--distributed via Smashwords) and June (Amazon), but basically the initial bump was all she wrote.

To date, I've sold 25 copies combined through Amazon and Smashwords, for a theoretical profit of...drumroll...$11.39. Guess I won't be getting rich on this anytime soon. Interestingly, although I've sold 15 copies through Amazon and only 10 copies through Smashwords, income from Smashwords is $1.07 higher.

Most of the Smashwords sales were directly from Smashwords.com, but two were distributed through Apple and Barnes & Noble.

The Plan

In a couple of days, I'll pull "Salvaging Scottwell" down from Smashwords (and the places it distributes to) and enroll it in Amazon's KDP Select program. KDP Select adds options like an increased royalty rate, the ability to offer stories for free during a promotional period, loaning stories for free to customers for a percentage of the pot, and better visibility. Time to play around with those options.

In this feel-good, near-future science fiction novelette, Max is an obsolete, broken-down robot cop dog in charge of a poor neighborhood. When a local streetwalker is murdered, Max takes it more seriously than the human cops. Then an unscheduled upgrade gives him abilities that the powers-that-be never planned for him to have.
Buy on Smashwords
Buy on Amazon

Posts in This Series
Ebooks - The Afterlife of Short Stories?
Ebooks - The First Bump
Ebooks - The Chirping of the Crickets

5th-Sep-2013 01:10 pm (UTC)
*raises hand* I bought it! From Smashwords, back in January. And very much enjoyed it, though I think I cried a little bit at the end.
5th-Sep-2013 08:11 pm (UTC)
5th-Sep-2013 04:35 pm (UTC)
I like that story a lot, but it doesn't surprise me that few bought it as a standalone ebook. I don't think that there's much of a market for short fiction. Maybe in a future more dominated by ebooks that will change...?

How do people that read a lot of short stories find good stuff? Other than picking up "Year's Best SF ##" occasionally, I don't see how I can expose myself to more stuff without investing a lot of time searching.
5th-Sep-2013 08:13 pm (UTC)
People who read a lot of short stories often do so by reading various magazines, online or in print. And sometimes by following the authors, I suppose. Short stories, novellas, etc. are doing well enough in ebook format for some people to hail them as a "rebirth" of the genre short story. ...They come up (on Amazon, etc.) in the same way that novel suggestions or search results do.
5th-Sep-2013 09:52 pm (UTC)
I bought it through Amazon and rather enjoyed it. Thanks for writing it and putting it out there.

...and I think short fiction is really saleable as ebooks.
6th-Sep-2013 01:40 am (UTC)
Glad you liked it! And thanks for the perspective on selling shorts.
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