Before You Were Born

So I finished formatting my small collection of five short stories and have now uploaded it to the kindle store. Here’s a link to its page on Amazon and here’s a link to my page on this blog about it.

I can remember when I first started pursuing writing seriously and saying that I would never self-publish. At the time the division between self-publishing and vanity publishing was blurrier and harder to distinguish. I intended to walk the established path of submitting short stories to magazines and then, ultimately, novels to agencies. At the time there wasn’t a lot else to do with short stories. I submitted almost everything I finished to either decent print magazines or to online ones, with varying levels of success. From the print magazines I tended to get polite rejections with occasional hand written messages of encouragement, online I had a fair number accepted. Once I started working on my novel my output of short stories slowed down and so I hadn’t submitted anything to anyone for a long time. The last one I submitted was the only one ever to earn me any money and that was, I think, in 2007.

During a break from trying to repair a horribly mutilated first chapter of my novel I decided to write shorts again for fun, and wrote the five that ended up being in this collection. I started to wonder what to do with them. My instinct was to send them to online magazines again, but in the intervening years digital publishing has exploded, as you probably know, and I had new option open to me. Where in the past the options were to submit them to magazines and quietly collect rejection slips or use them to stuff pillows, now I could get them out into the world very easily and completely free of charge.

I’m not saying that uploading them to Amazon is better than submitting them to magazines.  I see the pro’s and con’s in both. The process of uploading a book to Amazon and seeing it online in a very short space of time is quite exciting, but all that has happened is it is now on the bottom of a very deep pile. It’s available, sure. But it’s pretty hard to notice it too. Equally getting a story in a magazine looks great on a submission to an agency, but it is no guarantee of success, and the density of failures to get that one success makes it a tough ride. Which is actually better? I have no idea.

It’s not about the money, by the way. Before You Were Born costs £0.86 to purchase, of which my cut is about £0.25. Plus the fact another book on the bottom of the Amazon pile isn’t going to be very visible, and so not sell many copies, coupled with the generally held belief that short story collections don’t sell well unless you are already an established author means I stand to make an insignificant sum of money. I desperately wanted it to be free, but Amazon won’t allow it. £0.86 was the cheapest I was able to post it for. I’m honestly not sure how other people have posted their books for free download.

I tried to make the digital file as attractive as I could. I spent some time on design and am pleased with how the final book looks. I have tested it on my kindle and on an iPhone and it’s looks pretty swish. I figured one way to stand out a little bit was to pay attention to the quality of the finished product. I have seen many an ebook that has not had a lot of time spent on formatting and design. Hopefully mine stands out a little for that reason.

Of course though, it is all about the writing. If you do decide to take a look at it then I hope you like it. I am happy with how it turned out. Hopefully you will be too. If not, sorry about that.

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