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I'm about to finish a short story (9000 words). But since I already have another two (7000 words and 6000 words), I was wondering whether I should publish the work as a mini collection of short stories. I thought about this because I've never seen a famous author publish a standalone short story.

I'm a new author and I'm planning to publish the ebook at Amazon via Kindle Direct Publishing.

What would be my best choice?

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5 Answers 5

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There's no need to choose. Do both. Put the individual stories up as singles, and put the collection up also. Just make sure people know what's in the collection.

Steven King has published some standalone short stories. "Ur." "Riding the Bullet." Probably some others I can't think of at the moment.

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so I should post both the collection and single stories to my Facebook fanbase? I'm afraid that would be a little too overwhelming for them. –  Alexandro Chen Oct 7 '13 at 16:32
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Maybe a single post, explaining how to buy either the individual stories or the collection. Also, I suspect that you don't have enough stories to overwhelm anybody (yet ;-). –  Dale Emery Oct 7 '13 at 19:44
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For Kindle versions, I'd agree with the other posters that doing both is the easy way out. Maybe a little more trouble, but not all that much. If you find that one or the other has only a tiny number of sales, then maybe next time you don't bother. And hey, maybe you could let us know here.

For a printed book, I think you'd want to publish the collection. People rarely buy a printed book that has just one short story because it would presumably be about 20 pages long and look awfully thin.

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Imagine that you have three potential readers, Alice, Bob, and Carol, and three stories, X, Y, and Z. Alice would pay $3 for X, $2 for Y, and $1 for Z. Bob would pay $3 for Y, $2 for Z, and $1 for X. Carol would pay $3 for Z, $2 for X, and $1 for Y.

If you offer X+Y+Z as an anthology for $6, you will get three readers for each story and $18 in gross sales. If you offer them separately for $2 each, you will get two readers for each story and $12 in gross sales.

This is why newspapers bundle up news, sports, and arts into one edition instead of selling them separately, and why cable-TV providers don’t let you subscribe to channels on an individual basis.

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From everything I've read on the subject, the collection will sell better. The stories will necessarily be cheaper, and can easily get lost in the "bargain bin." But Dale Emery has a great point -- there's no reason to choose. Make sure you link them all to each other, so people can see how buying the collection is a great deal.

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Personally, a single story that appeals to me can be much more attractive to me than an anthology with a whole bunch of content I'm not particularly interested in. A $2 story with a good hook might do better than a $5 anthology of "Stuff From An Unknown Writer." But then, both is obviously best :) –  Standback Oct 7 '13 at 18:49
    
It helps if the stories in the collection are selected so that a reader who enjoys one has a good chance of enjoying the others. It's probably better if they are all in the same genre. Bundling mystery, fantasy, erotica, and YA in the same collection would probably not work out. –  Dale Emery Oct 7 '13 at 19:48
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Note that short stories are much more difficult to sell than full-length novels. My company's just published a collection of stories in a popular genre by some pretty well-known authors, for a decently low price, distributed through mainstream channels and it's sold under 500 copies in six months. If you're after sales, write full-length fiction. If you're fairly prolific, perhaps consider giving away a short story for $0 as a sweetener for some more meaty offerings.

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