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.
I’m pleased to announce that the first issue of the historical fiction and alternate history magazine Alt Hist has now been published. See below for details. The magazine is edited by yours truly!
You can either buy a print copy via Lulu, or an ebook via Smashwords. As the ebook retailers get hold of it you will also be able to buy via the Kindle Store, iBookstore and others!
Alt Hist Issue 1, published October 2010
Alt Hist is the new magazine of Historical Fiction and Alternate History. Lovers of historical fiction for too long have been denied outlets for short pieces of fiction, as the number of print and online magazines for historical short fiction is very limited compared to the popularity of fiction set in past times. Alt Hist’s mission is to provide readers with entertaining and well-written short stories with a historical setting, whether portraying actual events or events that could have happened. If you read and enjoy historical fiction, alternate history or historical fantasy then we think you will like Alt Hist.
The first issue of Alt Hist features six short stories:
“The Silent Judge” by David W. Landrum “Easter Parade, 1930” by Rob McClure Smith “Holy Water” by Andrew Knighton “Lament for Lost Atlanta” by Arlan Andrews “The Bitterness of Apples” by Priya Sharma “Travelling by Air” by Ian Sales
Alt Hist Issue 1 also includes an interview with Brandon H. Bell, co-editor of Aether Age, and information about the alternate history anthology Columbia & Britannia.
Steven Till, a fellow blogger and writer of historical fiction, has posted a very kind review of Bisclavret (The Werewolf) over at his blog.
Steven found the story “engaging and thrilling. As an eighteen page short story, it reads quickly: his pacing is good, the dialogue is tight, and the plot is absorbing. His style is clean and precise and executed extremely well.”
Although he “did feel that some of the characters could have used more fleshing out, Bertrand for one, and on some levels Edward.”
One of the pleasures of writing and getting published is to get a reaction from readers, and I am really pleased that I have been able to get this story out to a wider audience.
Steven has a wonderful website that is a must for anyone interested in history and historical fiction, particularly set in the Middle Ages. Steven also has some of his own stories posted on his site, all of which are well worth a read.
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.
I have recently published a short story called Bisclavret (The Werewolf) on Smashwords and at the Kindle Store. My story is a retelling of Marie de France‘s Bisclavret, one of her 12 lais (a French syllabic verse form used for narrative poems) based on lais sung by Breton minstrels. Marie was writing in the late 12th and it is likely that her works were based on Breton/Celtic stories of an earlier origin.
My version of Bisclavret takes the story to the second half of the fourteenth century and makes the protagonists an English knight and his Breton wife, living in her ancestral castle in Brittany, surrounded by forests and decaying estates ravaged into poverty by the hundred years war.
I would encourage anyone interested in werewolves, fantasy and medieval literature to read all of Marie’s work. I personally find it very instructive to go back to the core myths and legends that act as the source material for today’s fantasy fiction.
If you want to read the original Bisclavret I would recommend the following sites:
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.