Brenda Cooper

In which I become a publisher

People ask me regularly if I have books available on the Kindle.  It’s possible that happens more to me than to other authors, since I live and work in Amazon’s home town and my friends are tech geeks.   I’m pretty sure that my novels will find their way there eventually through my publisher, Tor Books, but I decided to put a few short stories on the Kindle myself after hearing that other writer’s are having success.

So I enlisted my trusty and helpful web expert, Jeremy Tolbert, in the project, and within a week or so there were three stories up there.  Here’s what I chose:

Savant Songs” which is about a brilliant autistic scientist and is my most commercially successful short story (It came out in Analog and in Year’s Best SF10)

A Lingering Scent of Bacon,” which got me my best-ever acceptance letter fron editor Kerrie Hughes, and which came out in the anthology “Maiden, Matron, Crone.”

The Licit Zone,”  which is a “Kindle Original.”

This is completely an experiment.  I don’t expect to get rich from it.  But I like the idea that it keep the first two stories available since they are otherwise pretty hard to find right now, and I like them both.   Maybe releasing one only on the Kindle will have interesting side-effects.  Who knows.

Each story is a $1.99.  From your Kindle, you can find them by searching for my name in the Kindle Store.  Just for fun, I want to encourage you to buy one of the stories, read it, and comment back here (good, bad, neutral…I’m open).  I’ll draw one to three names (depending on how many people try a story) and send each of you a free copy of “The Silver Ship and the Sea,” which is the beginning of my current series of books.

9 Responses so far

  1. 1. Jim Van Pelt

    Hi, Brenda,

    I’m planning on putting my second collection, The Last of the O-Forms and Other Stories, on Kindle as a whole book. Do you have any words of wisdom for me, like do you think it is a good idea?

  2. 2. brenda

    I don’t really know. I feel like we are living in the slow waning of the paper book (but not yet – by far – its death). Hopefully New York publishing will figure out how to profitably straddle the paper and electronic markets. In the meantime, you and I are frankly mid-listers at best so far – hopefully on our way up. I’m afraid that unless I make my work available and also market my work, I’ll get lost between new writers and the one New York knows can make them scads of money. New York publishing is more worried about survival in this market than building my career (as they should be – I’m a business exec, and I’d be slow to take risks right now, too).

    None of the three stories I put up were either making me money or available for people to read so I don’t lose much by the experiment. Your short work is excellent, and I think e-readers are really friendly to the short story, so I guess it can’t hurt for you to do that, too if you want. It could be great publicity for Radio Magician.

    And the Kindle really is a lovely device.

    Have you chatted with Patrick about it?

  3. 3. Jim Van Pelt

    Yes, he sent me the files for the finished book. All I need to do now is to upload them to Amazon and set a price.

    The Last of the O-Forms and Other Stories, sold about 1,000 copies and has now trickled down to a handful of books a month (it’s a print on demand title), so I figure I have little to lose on the print sales by offering it in this new format. My first collection, Strangers and Beggars, sold about 4 times as well (it was on the ALA list of best books for young adults, which I figure is the difference), and Summer of the Apocalypse has sold as many copies as Strangers and Beggars already, so it’s been very successful. Summer of the Apocalypse is still selling 60-90 books a month

    I haven’t been very Doctorowish about putting samples of my stories for free or making the texts of my books available either, so this is fairly new territory for me.

    I’ve also been slow to embrace podcast versions of my work. I’m not opposed to it–I just haven’t been aggressive about it.

    I’ll let you know how it goes.

  4. 4. Jim Van Pelt

    I love the look of this website, by the way, if I hadn’t mentioned it earlier.

  5. 5. brenda

    Thanks. I figure it’s better to have them here than nowhere, and I very much like the idea that when people ask, I can say, “Yes, I do have work on the Kindle.”
    In a way, we writers have more options than ever before. The hard part is figuring out the right/best ones.
    And I’m glad you like the site.

  6. 6. jim duncan

    Are you doing anything to get the stories noticed? Such as talking on the community forums about it? If you do nothing, your chances of getting notice and any sales are pretty slim from what I’ve seen. There’s a lot of free stuff up there to contend with as well. Based on what I’ve seen, if you want to attract readers, make it free.

  7. 7. brenda

    Well, I posted it here and listed it as available in my biography. I noted it on Twitter, which went to Facebook. The challenge here is that I really think the Internet is about building relationships and word of mouth more than just plain marketing. If someone says “Buy my story,” I won’t.

    So either people will read my novels or my blog and that will lead them to the Kindle, or someone besides me will say something good, which could also lead people to buy them. But I feel like flogging my own work directly is less useful than putting out more work.

    It’s an experiment. Luckily it has almost nothing to do with whether I pay the rent or eat. 🙂

    But I am always interested in what other people are succeeding with.

  8. 8. Kim Sannes

    I have to say that your name was the first I searched for after Amazon made their Kindle software available for the iPod Touch platform. It didn’t even occur to me until reading this blog entry that you and Amazon share the same vicinity.

    While the screen on the iPod is just a little small for reading, I found that I had no problems reading “Red Mars” on it, followed by “Mysterious Island”. Just having a book or two on me at all times, when waiting 15 minutes for a meeting, or waiting for friends to show up at a coffee house, made the whole experience worth while.

  9. 9. brenda

    Thanks for commenting Kim! Sorry it took me a few days. I presume that all you found from me was the three stories…but I am still expecting Tor will get the books up. It’s such a weird time in publishing for us all. Not bad — there’s a lot of opportunity –but weird.