Shorts: They’re Not Just for Warm Weather Anymore

The humorous story may be spun out to great length, and may wander around as much as it pleases, and arrive nowhere in particular; but the comic and witty stories must be brief and end with a point. The humorous story bubbles gently along, the others burst. –Mark Twain

I once asked a Southern gothic luminary (who is no longer among the living but shall yet remain nameless) about the publishing process. It was the early 90s. I was barely an adult. I naively intimated that I had a burgeoning collection of short stories that I wanted to submit for publication somewhere. I wanted his advice on how to go about it.

The tall fellow at first smiled, then laughed out loud. He was not laughing with me.

"Write a novel," he said. "Sorry."

I was also sorry. Because he was right.

Collections of fictional shorts have been traditionally frowned upon as a means of breaking into the business of represented, renowned, and respectable book authorship. If your work was first published and critically raved about in the world of magazines, you might have a shot at publishing a collection. Otherwise, you’d better get cranking on your 100,000-word Great American Novel and leave the shorts to the side until people are willing to plunk down cash for anything that has your name on it.

Now comes the eBook. It has no physical heft, for it is comprised of data bits. It requires no name recognition to publish, although such recognition does help sales. It is typically low cost to produce and, depending on the author/publisher, can be low cost for a reader to obtain. So why should a story published as an eBook require a word count greater than 75,000 to be a popular, enjoyable read?

It shouldn’t. More, I don’t think it does.

The most wonderful thing I’ve discovered about eBooks is the diversity of style and length. I can escape for a short time from the daily grind by downloading and reading a satisfying work of short fiction. Or, I can completely engross myself in a long-haul novel. There’s no reason to choose a novel over a shorter work–novella, novelette, or short story–other than my own interest in the story that unfolds within.

If you’ve followed this blog for any amount of time, you know that I am currently working on the second draft of my own novel. Therefore, I am not going to claim that the novel has no place in the eBook revolution. It most certainly does. I have no evidence, but I would venture a guess that the majority of indie author literature being released in eBook form is of novel length.

Still, I can’t help but wonder if the eBook revolution might also bring about a resurgence of interest in shorter literary forms. Why not? Some of the greatest works of literature have been less than novel length. For example, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is approximately 26,000 words long, a third of what is considered modern novel length. Likewise, Edgar Allan Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue clocks in around 120 pages.

The fact that the eBook format is less restrictive about the length of a work is one of the reasons I decided to go ahead and put my time travel novelette, Timecast, out there. I’m glad I did. The feedback so far has been encouraging, and that gives me further incentive to finish the novel. I also plan to release other shorter works in the coming months.

Maybe I’ll even do a collection.

And not be sorry.

Social Networking to Land a Paying Gig: It’s Not Just for Writers Selling Manuscripts

Marian Schembari at Publishing Trends details how she landed a job in publishing, but not by sending out resumes and cover letters.

Of course, advertising yourself to get a job is a little weird, I have to admit. It’s one of those stories you hear about people wearing their resume on a T-shirt or taking cookies to an interview. No one wants to be that person.

Open Book Alliance: Digitization of Books Must be Open and Transparent

Victory for the Public Interest – New Process Must Be Open + Transparent

“We hope that Google and its partners learn the right lessons from this fiasco and start over in an open and transparent manner.  They must create a robust process that includes input from all stakeholders, including authors, libraries, independent publishers, consumer advocates, state Attorneys General, the Justice Department, and Congress.  This opportunity cannot turn into another negotiation behind closed doors.  

“The promise of the mass digitization of books is too important to be left to another round of secret negotiations, and that promise must be realized through an open and transparent process.”

[Open Book Alliance]

Google Book Settlement Hearing Postponed

Breaking: Google Book Settlement Hearing Is Postponed

News is spreading fast that Google and its partners have filed a motion and a memo asking the Court to postpone the October 7 fairness hearing.

This is a huge victory for the many people and organizations who raised significant concerns that this settlement did not serve the public interest, stifled innovation, and restricted competition. It’s also an enormous loss for Google, which had been saying for months that no changes were necessary to the settlement. Now, that settlement, as we know it, is dead. [Open Book Alliance]

OBA Optimistic that Google Books Settlement in Current Form Won’t Go Through

“One thing is for certain – the proposed Google Book Settlement, as it’s currently written, will not go through.”

Now that we’ve had a chance to review the Justice Department’s filing in more detail, we recognize that one thing is certain – the proposed Google Book Settlement, as it’s currently written, will not go through. Even Google seems to agree with this — after months of fighting against any change to the settlement, they acknowledge that the settlement must be profoundly altered. That’s good news for anyone who wants to protect innovation, competition, and the public interest as we evolve the world of books to the digital age. [Open Book Alliance]

Google CEO Weights in on the Online Paid Content Debate

He also utters one of the two latest media business model buzzwords, the other being "local."

Google CEO: Publishers will have a hard time charging for general newsReuters
There’s too much free content online, says Eric Schmidt. "My guess is for niche and specialist markets … it will be possible to [charge], but I think it is unlikely that you will be able to do it for all news."
[Poynter Romenesko]

US Justice Dept Advises Court to Reject Google Books Settlement

US Justice Dept wants changes to Google book deal (AFP)

AFP – The US Justice Department has advised a court to reject a legal settlement between Google and authors and publishers that would allow the Internet giant to scan and sell millions of books online [Yahoo! Books and Publishing News]

New York Library Association on How to Fix the Google Book Settlement

New York Library Association on How to Fix the Google Book Settlement

The Open Book Alliance is made up of a wide coalition of librarians, legal scholars, authors, publishers, and technology companies dedicated to countering the proposed Google Book Settlement. From time to time, we will publish posts from members of our group. This one comes from Michael Borges, Executive Director of the New York Library Association. [Open Book Alliance]