I happened upon a three star Amazon review for "The French Have a Word for It" wherein the reviewer stated:
I know it only cost $1.49, but it's only 631 locations (translation for the rest of us: 8,362 words -- or 20 pages) there are free sample downloads that length. So while Lanyon is a skilled writer, this is really just a snippet and I'm not going to buy anymore stories this length because they are too short to satisfy me. Colin is a young artist, Thomas is significantly older and used to be his body guard, and they bump into each other in
There is nothing wrong with the writing or the ideas here, it's just too short to build any meaning for me.
Now, not everyone loves short stories. I do get that. But where did the idea that all short fiction should be free come from?
You don’t get this attitude from those readers still buying print books. But maybe that’s because they’re under the (false) impression that the bulk of a book’s price has to do with the physical end product?
I have to admit that review -- those comments -- floored me. Are a lot of ebook readers this far out of touch with publishing reality? Are they honestly this spoiled? Or is it simply that because so many readers in this genre come from a fan fiction background where all the stories are free, they don’t grasp the fact that writing is a skill and a trade like any other, and the practitioners of that trade need to earn a living?
If skilled writers can’t earn a living, then you won’t have skilled writers penning your stories. You’ll have fiction from people who have trouble giving their stuff away. Oh yes! On another Amazon forum they’re debating that very thing. Debating whether Amazon ought to charge authors upload fees (one person suggested $500 - 1000. ) as means of weeding out all the dreck that is currently showing up at low, low prices and apparently making it too hard to find good stories.
Come to think of it, maybe the bigger concern here is we might have a generation growing up that can’t tell the difference between a snippet and a short story. There is a difference. It has to do with plot and point. I think most readers get that, right? Please tell me this woman is the exception and not the rule of our new book buying paradigm because there are writers who specialize in short fiction. They make a living at short fiction. The short story is a perfectly valid art form, and while print markets for individual stories are dwindling, the market for anthologies is growing. Magazines like Alfred Hitchcock and Ellery Queen still pay around 5 - 8 cents a word.
I happen to love writing short stories, but not so much that I would write them for free.