You can now download a free copy of my short story The Easy River to Success for free from either Feedbooks or Smashwords.
Set in a fantasy world of dark magic, Benetus, the King’s chancellor, fears the return of a rival he had thought banished from court. Benetus turns to the help of demons to rid himself of his enemy. But things are not always as they seem in the spirit world.
I have posted a number of times previously about this story since it was originally published in Planet Magazine. See below for some additional links to more information about the story. Let me know what you think.
Weird and unlikely things happen when you distribute your work for free over the internet. And it seems that my story The Human Factor has been downloaded from Feedbooks and uploaded to Scribd.
I’m not sure how I feel about this. I guess the guy who did just liked the story, which is good and isn’t gaining commercially from it – although Scribd are of course through advertising – whereas there is no advertising on Feedbooks.
Writers – what do you think? Are you happy to see your work distributed for free by others if you have already made it free?
I guess getting higher up the most popular list for certain tags has probably increased the popularity. I’ve certainly seen downloads actually increase the longer this story has been on the site!
However, I’m not sure if I have much of a chance of progressing much further up the chart in the short term. The story above mine, Wires, has over 3,000 downloads, while the top story, After the Singularity, has over 11,000.
So far in my Smashwords and Feedbooks adventures I have published three stories on Feedbooks and two on Smaswords. I found it quite interesting to compare the two. Of the two stories on Smashwords, one I am charging for, Bisclavret (The Werewolf), and one, The Human Factor, I have made free. On Feedbooks I have three stories (all free as that is the nature of Feedbooks), which are: The Human Factor (again), The Honor of Rome and Tale of Tiel.
You can’t compare these figures exactly, but what I think is clear is that Feedbooks gets a lot more downloads. I suspect that’s because people know it only has free material, whereas as you have to pay for a fair amount of the content on Smashwords. What’s great for me as far as Feedbooks is concerned is that the downloads for The Human Factor aren’t dying down – it seems to have some legs yet! And for Smashwords, I think it’s more of a platform for trying to sell novel length material rather than short stories.
One of my reasons for publishing some short stories on Feedbooks and Smashwords was to get them out to a wider audience and hopefully to elicit some feedback. As a writer I want to write for an audience and not just myself. I confess that it gives me a real buzz when someone says they like something I’ve written.
And finally I’ve had some feedback! My most downloaded story, The Human Factor, with over 800 downloads on Feedbooks and 47 on Smashwords, has now had a comment left. Diana Trees gave it three stars on Smashwords and commented: “Nice twist on an old subject. Good dialog speeds this along and makes it a decent read. I look forward to more.”
While on Feedbooks Jaydenwoods commented: “Nice twist ending!” for my story The Honor of Rome.
Only a couple of comments, but it’s really good to have them. If anyone else has read the stories and would like to leave feedback, negative or positive, then please do.
After some positive experiences distributing free short stories with Feedbooks, I thought I should take a look at the other widely used option for self-publishing ebooks: Smashwords.
Smashwords is much more orientated to authors who want to get paid for their work. Therefore it seems to attract longer pieces as well – I guess it’s hard to convince readers to pay for individual short stories. It also seems to be a place where one might be able to distribute short story anthologies or even individual issues of magazines, something I think Beneath Ceaseless Skies do.
As with Feedbooks I decided to publish one of my older short stories with Smashwords. The experience is interesting – it’s a lot more complicated in some ways – you really are asked to make sure the formatting is spot on and to include things like copyright statements if you want your work published on Amazon or the Apple iBookstore. I think this is good in a way as it encourages you to be more professional about your work, but it does take longer than Feedbooks. Also for Apple and Sony you require an ISBN, which you can ask Smashwords to provide for you. Now I think if you were deadly serious about self-publishing being your future, you would be better off getting your own batch, as presumably you would also be organizing your own printed books then this would be a good idea. But for the purposes of my experiment I just went with Smashwords’ free ISBN option. After all I want to get my story distributed as widely as possible with as little fuss as possible.
What I found quite good was the author support provided by Smashwords. For instance they make revenue per sale quite clear for each distribution method, they also show you exactly how your book appears on search engines, and provide lots of Social Media buttons too. You can also submit your blog url and Twitter username to provide updates in your profile. All in all they seem committed to providing authors with a professional and positive experience.
The story I have published with them is called Bisclavert and you can buy it for $0.99 or sample the first 6 or so pages free.
I am really enjoying using Feedbooks over the last couple of days. My first story, The Human Factor, has now had over 80 downloads, which I think is fairly awesome really. It does seem that Science Fiction seems to do quite well. My other stories, The Honor of Rome and Tale of Tiel, which are historical and fantasy respectively, haven’t done as well, but still have quite a few downloads.
I am really hoping that some of the readers provide some comments as well. I would really love to see what people think.
I also started reading another writer’s work on there, a chap called Ian Sales. I found his work to be of really high quality, which is reassuring as it seems that decent writers are posting their work on the site. I would encourage you to go and read his Amber Room if you have the chance.
Had some fun yesterday publishing two of my older short stories on Feedbooks. Both The Human Factor and The Honor of Rome never found publishing homes, so I decided there was no harm in publishing them via Feedbooks.
It’s quite interesting as you immediately get to see how many people have downloaded your titles, and if they are logged in, you even see who has them on their bookshelves. There is also an easy to use feature for providing comments. One of the things that is slightly frustrating about being published in online or print magazines is that you don’t really get an idea of how many people have read your piece or what they think. Feedbooks seems to offer this immediacy of feedback that many authors crave.
The site seems to be mainly geared towards short stories and therefore I think it can be a good platform for authors to get some initial reactions to their work from readers rather than other writers at critique groups. But for the moment I think I will continue to send my newer work out for publication by relevant fantasy and science fiction magazines.