I am in the editing stage of a book of short stories. This will be different from my other two books of short fiction in a number of ways. The other two were both pretty eclectic, while this is all science fiction. Seasons of Imagination had 36 stories and totaled about 71K words. Embers had 22 stories and totaled about 90K words. This book will only have 11 stories and be close to 75K words, so the average story length, having jumped for Embers, has jumped again.
I like short stories. I like to read them, and I like to write them. Although I like the novels and longer novellas I put out, I think my short stories (and short novellas) as given in these three collections are my best works of fiction. I know this format is not the best if trying to sell books, but… Both Seasons of Imagination and Embers have sold better than The Old Mill or The Haley Branch and much, much better than my two fantasy novellas, so… They also each have almost as many reviews (or at least stars) as those three put together.
Thinking stars, until a week ago, Embers had one review but 4 people gave it stars. So, on average, it was four four star ratings. Last week someone gave it one star but without a review. With a book of short stories I wonder. What was so awful that the entire election was one star? There wasn’t one story they liked? Of course, I’m not sure I really want to see a review (The Fireborn’s one star review was a paragraph of saying it was the worst book ever written in the history of writing, etc. – not easy reading…), yet I am curious about it. Oh well.
Which brings up a point – why bother? I had more people read the short story I posted yesterday than read all of my books combined. Yes, that is right, I get more “likes” on any given short story I post in WP than the sales of all 6 of my books combined over the last four years since I published Seasons of Imagination. Some of my stories have had five or six times the number of views as the total number of sales. I’m obviously not putting the books out to make money! If I’m doing it to have people read my stories, then I should work on pushing to get more blog readers instead of publishing, right? One of the reasons The Old Mill was delayed for almost a year was that as I was working on the final draft I decided that all of the work to make the book presentable wasn’t worth it, so I gave up… well, I put it on hold for almost a year, then did finish the editing and publish it. As to future books, I’ll still try keep publishing them, worth it or not.
So I will continue to put out books and hopefully have my next one ready in a couple of months – I am shooting for an early October release.
But I have also thought about taking my two existing short story books off line and creating new editions.
A new version of Seasons of Imagination would take the stories from that cycle (the hyper-imaginative 10 year old) and base the entire book around them. I have written over a dozen stories about this character. Besides the original four, there were three in Embers. I might need to write a few more to make it worth it.
The new version of Embers would take the handful of stories from Seasons that I really like that aren’t part of the cycle (6 or 7, which would mean almost 30 stories would be pulled from publication), besides taking out the three Season’s stories, I’d remove some of the worst stories from the existing Embers (remove 4 or 5 plus 3 Seasons) and add in the handful of stories that I have written post-Embers but don’t fit in with the sci-fi collection I am currently getting ready. I think this would be a much stronger book than the existing one. And perhaps I could pull one or two of the sci-fi works out of the revised Ember’s collection and add them to my new book, making them both about the same length.
Part of me looks at it and thinks it would be a great idea to make the change – I think I’d have two stronger books (maybe all three including the WIP). But part of me goes back to that “why bother” attitude. There are a lot of moving parts to make that change. Is it worth it?
For now I am going to go back to editing my current collection as is. Having far fewer stories I think it is a stronger book. I do like the eclectic nature of the others, but I think having these all being sci-fi helps from a reader’s POV. So…
And I will continue to write and post an eclectic mix of short stories on the blog. (Quick comment about posting – in hindsight, some of my posted short stories are awful! Someday I may go back and remove about 80% of them… but then, most likely I won’t.)
Anyway, hope you didn’t mind this mindless rambling… I often think about these types of things, but never post them. First, I do not want to seem like I am feeling sorry for myself when I complain about reviews or sales! Quite the contrary! (OK, I am human, I do on occasion). For the most part I see it as an exciting adventure.
And as to exciting adventures, it is time to write a new short story, one about an exciting adventure….