Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Singles: Not Just for Kraft or eHarmony

In case you haven't heard, mes auteurs, Amazon is introducing Amazon Singles, a new variety of content aimed at providing Ye (We?) Unwashed Masses with 30- to 90-page chapbooks, novellas, pamphlets, and so on. From the article:

Ideas and the words to deliver them should be crafted to their natural length, not to an artificial marketing length that justifies a particular price or a certain format.

— Russ Grandinetti, Vice President for Kindle Content, Amazon

First of all, bravo, Amazon. Second of all, IT'S ABOUT TIME, I TOTALLY HAD THIS IDEA ALREADY. Like, over a year ago. It's a good thing we have the Internet these days for keeping track of things like this.

I believe the sale of e-chapbooks, e-novellas, and even (gasp!) e-short stories via Amazon will help revitalize two flagging genres of American writing: poetry and literary fiction. Don't want to take a chance on a d├ębut poetry collection? Try the shorter, cheaper chapbook. Not sure you want to buy that up-and-coming author's novel? Buy a short story or two. Only have a two-hour train ride and don't want to start a whole new book? Try an essay or a novella! Don't even get me started on the potential literary magazine renaissance.

The literary world is changing, bros and she-bros, and it's doing so very quickly. Smaller publishers have more opportunities now than ever before to showcase their (read: your) work electronically, so if you're not signed with one of the Big Six, don't despair—your publisher may be much nimbler and more savvy than a larger, more traditional house, and though you might not become the next J.K. Rowling, you certainly stand to gain a lot by having your work available to an ever-growing and (omni)voracious audience.

Again, however, I feel I should caution you: this does not mean an Internet free-for-all, and this does not mean that self-publishing is the way to go. I'm not saying you're stupid or impulsive, mes auteurs (far from it!), but simply because one can flood the Internet with work that hasn't been edited, marketed, or even reviewed by professionals—who, let's face it, sort of know what they're doing—doesn't mean one should.


  1. It's about time. You'd think with our short attention spans, this idea would have taken hold long ago.

    You made my day.

  2. But if I really am stupid and impulsive, does that change anything?

  3. I'm totally impulsive. This is a perfect way for me to flood the Internet with my crap. I'm kidding. Really. (My stuff isn't crap).

  4. I'm curious as to how authors and publishers will promote all these shorter works. I'm assuming both will sink less time and money into them because they'll sell for a lower price point than novels. It'll be interesting to see what strategies are used.

  5. I too wonder how these are promoted as I presume one buys before reading - or are samples offered?
    Does the author with the best elevator pitch make the most money?
    Not the way I'd want to buy for sure.

  6. The day draws closer when a person will be able to go online and build their own personalised anthology of favourite short stories and poems - either as an eBook or a POD - with micropayments to each author included in the antho. What better present for a Mother on Mother's day than a book of 'singles' by their favourite authors, as selected by their kids?

  7. I was at The Brooklyn Book Festival a few weeks ago and I came across these guys - http://www.one-story.com/ One dollar for a short story or five bucks for six. I bought three of them and they were as good as anything I've read in the New Yorker.