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Selling Short Stories

I felt a little weird about offering “Maria Lucas” (formerly “Maria’s Romance”) for sale on I had planned to give it away, but as an indie, I cannot offer it for free on Amazon; it’s the company’s policy. The lowest price I was allowed to ask was $0.99. With some people selling full-length novels at that price, I felt bad for having to ask so much for a short story.

I was talking about this with my husband, who–I must warn you–is an engineer. Things happen in his head involving numbers that I cannot fathom. Take for example the following conversation held during a road trip:

Me: You’re quiet. What are you thinking about?
Him: I was calculating the number of RPMs the engine is doing based on our speed since the truck doesn’t have a tachometer.
Me: Oh.
Him: What were you thinking about?
Me: I was thinking the trees are pretty.

Or this conversation, also on road trip:

Me: How much farther until we get there?
Him: [very long pause for calculation]
Me: Just estimate.
Him: [Pause continues.]
Me: *eye roll*
Him: 17.63 miles
Me: Seriously?
Him: That’s just an estimate.

That’s how he thinks. In binary.

So I asked his opinion on selling a short story for $.99. His response was interesting. It basically boiled down to this. At 5,000 words, that’s about 20 pages. Let’s say it takes a person 1 minute to read a page. That’s 20 minutes of entertainment. That’s $.05 per minute. (Ok, it’s $.0495; I had to say that. See previous conversations.) So if you translate that to hourly figures, you’d be spending $2.97 an hour for entertainment.

Then, factor in the fact that the story can be reread AND it can be shared with a friend via Amazon’s Kindle sharing program. But for the sake of argument, let’s say you never read it again or share it. So we’d have to compare it with something fleeting, like going to a movie or concert. Something you do once. Can you get into a movie or concert for $2.97 an hour?

“Maria Lucas” has been live on Amazon for 24 hours, and a few copies have already sold (THANK YOU!), so I assume the price isn’t too off-putting. It’s a bit early to predict how it will go long term, but I’m cautiously optimistic.

6 thoughts on “Selling Short Stories

  1. Kate, it really is scary what goes on in DH’s head. He’s doing math and I’m vegging out. Math calms him. He ain’t right.

    JJ, thank you for buying Maria! I really hope you enjoy it.

  2. In my opinion, $0.99, if anything, is too little, definitely not too much. I’m looking forward to reading your book. But (forgive my ignorance of the world of eBooks) but can I read the Kindle version on my computer?

  3. Hi Stephanie! You can actually read a Kindle book on the computer. You can download a free reading app here:

    This will turn your PC, Mac, or phone into a reader. Even if you end up still getting paperbacks, the app is still useful because it allows you to sample much more of the book than the traditional “preview” feature. That way you can really try before you buy.

    I hope you enjoy the book and the story!

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