Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Short Story America: the future of short fiction?

A cool thing happened today.
I got a call from Tim Johnston, publisher and co-editor of Short Story America. I had submitted a short story to his site less than a month ago and he wanted to publish it.
Even cooler is the site itself.
Short Story America is a start-up with a unique business model. My story, "Balance," will appear as the Story of the Week beginning Friday. When its run is over, it will be moved to the Contemporary Library with all the other formerly featured stories. At the end of the year, Tim and his co-editor, Sarah Turocy, will compile those stories into an anthology, which will be sold in book format. At some later point, all the short stories will be available as audio downloads.
I get $100 for the story plus 15 percent of royalties on all audio downloads. I will share 15 percent royalties with the other authors in the anthology. All royalties will be calculated after publication and marketing expenses. A little different, but I'm okay with that since all the start-up money is coming out of Tim's pocket.
That's not a lot money as far as royalties are concerned, but I can't think of many other short stories publishers who offer royalties at all. In fact, I can't think of any.
Short Story America keeps permanent nonexclusive rights, which might be a dilemma for career short story writers who plan to publish collections on down the line. But not for me.
I am primarily a novelist. If publishers so desperately want to compile my short stories into a collection, they are still welcome to use "Balance." If they don't like the deal with Tim, I'll write another one to fill the slot.
Coolest yet is the look and feel of the site.
Short Story America uses flash technology to make the stories look like real books with illustrated covers, bios and all. Readers click and drag, or just click on the page corners to turn them and it makes a sound like a real page flipping.
My kids had a blast tonight just playing with the pages.
Readers must be members to access the stories, but membership is free.
Personally, I'm thrilled just to be part of this new venture. Some folks are critical, of course, but the short story market must evolve somehow and this seems to me a different and interesting way to do it.
I wish Tim, a short story author himself, and Sarah the greatest of success, not just for my sake, but for the art of short stories and its the survival in this ever-evolving technological world.
They might just have something here.


  1. Lovely story. I just read it at the site as I have a subscription. I don't often contact authors when I'm impressed with their work. I try to step out more since I would want the same done for me. So here I am, your audience, raising her hand, taking a stand. (sorry, that sounded cheesy :-))

  2. Thanks so much, Tricia! I just checked out your blog and I have been greatly enjoying it!