Long time readers will probably not be surprised to hear that I have an interest in the changes underway right now in how we access written information and stories, and in how the people who write the things we read get paid. I choose to distribute most of what I write for free, but then, most of what I write is relatively quickly written and lightly edited, at best. I value the work of the professional writers who take the time to craft their words, and of the editors who help ensure it is polished and presented well. I want these people to get paid, so that they can keep doing what they are doing.
One of the interesting things about that the new electronic reading environment is the fact that it makes it easier for writers to sell short pieces of their work directly to readers, without first having to find a magazine or other publication into which it fits. Don't get me wrong- I think there is a place for magazines, too. As aggregators of interesting writing they provide me a way to judge whether or not something is worth my time, particularly if it is written by someone I haven't read before. But I also like the idea of a more direct marketplace for short works, a way for authors (and their editors and publishers) to sell things that I want to read to me directly.
So, this week, I have some short eBooks for you. They all cost money, but none of them cost very much!
First, I already mentioned Laura Vanderkam's What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfastin Tuesday's post. If you are on the fence about whether or not you want to try the "get up earlier and do something useful" routine, it might get you off the fence. But more interesting, at least to me, was the discussion of research about how mornings are a special time in terms of productivity, and why that might be. It made me rethink my morning work routine. Laura was kind enough to send me my copy for free, but I do not think I would have felt cheated if I had paid the $2.99 she and her publisher are asking for it.
Next, I downloaded The Girl Who Ruled Fairyland--For a Little While, by Catherynne Valente, before our Texas vacation, thinking that maybe I would have a little bit of time to read during naptimes. And I did! It is a delightful story, which drew me in with its almost lyrical tone. I enjoyed it far more than most things I drop a buck on. And a buck is all it will cost you.
Then, @zenmoo retweeted a tweet from the author Nick Earls, offering free downloads of his story Problems With a Girl & a Unicorn. I couldn't resist, so I grabbed it. It was an unusual story. I didn't finish it and think "wow! I loved that!" but I didn't dislike it, either. It was just... unusual. It has also stayed with me, and I've found myself thinking about it and what it means several times. This probably means that it was a better story than I initially thought. Anyway, if you're intrigued by that description, it will only cost you $0.99 to read it for yourself. If you do, come back and tell me what you think!
Finally, while I was trying to resist buying Scalzi's latest book, Redshirts, I bought an old short story of his called How I Proposed to My Wife: An Alien Sex Story. It was a really fun story to read. I recommend it wholeheartedly, particularly since it, too, will only cost you $0.99.
In fact... I later stumbled across an old blog post of his in which he tries out the shareware model with this story. So you could download it for free from there, and pay him whatever you think it is worth after the fact, if the payment mechanisms he references are still functioning. But personally, I think just paying $0.99 upfront is the way to go.
That blog post led me to do a little searching on his site, and I found another blog post talking about the financial side of short fiction. It is worth a read, as is Cat Valente's different take on the subject (linked from Scalzi's post). If you enjoy short fiction as much as I do, those two posts may make you search it out in your preferred electronic bookstore more often, as a way to encourage writers to make more of it. Anyway, I've started to do that.
Oh, and Redshirts? I caved and bought it at the hardcover price (Sci Fi ebooks usually come down in price when the paperback comes out). It is a great read, particularly if you are a fan of Sci Fi shows like Star Trek. The main book is fun, and surprisingly thought-provoking if you let it be. The codas are something special, and frankly I think it'd be worth reading the main story just to appreciate them.