I used Grammarly to grammar check this post, because I'm a writer and I'll do anything for fifteen bucks. (But more on that later.)
Three recent encounters have reinforced my sense we may be entering a new golden era for short fiction. Each conversation was innocuous enough, but together they gave me pause.
First, someone I know and trust urged me once again to compile a set of short stories for print publication. It's worth considering. A lot of novelists start out with a book of short stories, and while my agent makes the rounds with my manuscript, perhaps I'd finally have something to point to when people ask, "So, when's the book coming out, Rob?" (If you really want to know, drop your email in that field top left.)
Besides, I've placed a number of short stories and flash fiction pieces this past year. Maybe I should collect a handful, add in a little fresh meat, and see what happens.
Thing is, as much as I'd love to see a slim edition of fifteen or so pieces sitting on my coffee table, I think I'd probably reach more readers by self-publishing sets of three to five at a time on Amazon.
A week or so later, another good friend told me she'd written the next novel in her detective series and it wound up shorter than the others. Novella length. The plot worked, the character arcs were complete, but she landed around half the length of her heroine's previous outings.
In a traditional print world, that wouldn't fly. But as an ebook? Frankly, why not? Nothing says every book in a series has to be novel length. Nobody's slotting armchair time (never mind subway reads) so tightly they arrive at your story expecting a fixed number of words.
Then another friend asked me to read something he's considering releasing in serial form, a few chapters at a time. The pacing reminded me of The Adventures of Tintin. Before Hergé (Georges Remi) compiled his 24 album œuvre, Tintin was a serial strip.
It excited me that my friend could begin his story with a destination in mind and then adapt his protagonist's journey while readers are engaged. Assuming the series works, it also means an opportunity to reach people and build audience over time.
Wherever all this is headed, there's got to be goodness in the growth of markets for short stories, efficient distribution for novellas, and the rebirth of serials. For now, it's just one more piece of the puzzle as publishing goes through its strategic inflection point.
At the very least, it provides options for people who may want to read fiction but lack the time or inclination to read full-length novels. And it's a new set of channels for writers to work their craft.
So where does Grammarly fit in? Simple. This is a sponsored post. Yet another wrinkle in the paradigm. Sure, I would have written this anyway, but now I've got fifteen bucks to spend at Amazon. Think I'll go buy some shorts.