I had this idea, back in 2000?  2001?  Somewhere around there.  Back then, I had self-published a couple of poetry and short fiction chapbooks, modeled after my friend and mentor Mike Swope, and I loved the process and the finished product.  In a world where you can submit a story to a magazine, by physical mail, and MAYBE get a response within the next 6 months, if you’re lucky, in the days before widespread internet access, this was a viable route to get your work seen.  You print off a hundred or so chapbooks and sell em to co-workers or something, and while it’s frowned upon by the writing community at large, a hundred cheap little chapbooks aren’t going to be the end of the world.
And, like I said, I loved the process.  I had ideas for chapbooks I never got around to producing, but if time and money hadn’t been an issue back then (covers weren’t cheap), I would have.
And then one day I had this idea and it was very underground and punk rock and antiestablishment of me.  I thought why go through editors and agents and publishers and booksellers?  If people want to read my stories, why shouldn’t they be able to do so without the hassle?  I’m a smart man, for the most part, I should just be able to sell directly to fans.  As if I had any in 2000 (I didn’t.  I think that year saw my FIRST publication in a small press magazine that probably wasn’t around much longer).  The internet is becoming a thing now.  I have the ability to design, print, and assemble chapbooks.  Let’s say I get a webpage where I can have the covers to my short stories and I can print these short stories and publish them as standalone little chapbooks.  At the time, I had maybe 20-25 short stories written, not a lot considering I’d been writing since 1991.  But I thought, I could make covers for each short story with my very limited knowledge, ability, and access to clipart via the internet of 2000.  I could put these covers online and charge a very minimal amount.  My thought was 10 cents a printed page.  So if a short story came to 10 pages in chapbook form, that’s $1.  A 5-page story, $0.50.
And technically I still think this is a viable idea, but thank God for Amazon and Kindle Publishing because this is MUCH easier.  Putting chapbooks together, with all the folding and stapling, it SUCKS.
The only downside is that Amazon, Smashwords, Draft2Digital, Nook, Kobo, and whoever else is out there, won’t let you charge less than $0.99.  So if I wanted to release a short story that was only 4 pages on a Kindle, I wouldn’t be able to charge only $0.40, which sort of, for me, defeats the purpose of $0.10 per published page.
Now I give all of this backstory to say I took all of my short stories off Amazon years ago, in an attempt to clean up my pages and my dashboard and make the books that remained online look more legit.
I had visions of swastikas in my head, plans for everyone. Also, I had visions of potential readers coming across my work on Amazon and not being to sort the novels from the short stories, many of which were already published in the full-length collections, of which I also have several.  I thought of growing up reading King and he published novels and short story collections.  Sometimes he’d release a small collection of novellas, but for the most part it was novels and short story collections.  But he never released single short stories on their own.
Sure, he published those in magazines that paid a lot of money, so in a sense, most of those short stories WERE available in a standalone format.  If you knew where to look.  But he wasn’t writing a short story and then selling it to his fans.  It just wasn’t the way things were done.
So I took down most of the shorts, anything that had already been collected.  Things like the Angel Hill shorts or the Holiday Horrors stayed up, but eventually those too would be collected and the standalone versions, most likely, removed from Amazon.
A while later, I put a few of the shorts back up, just the ones that had reviews already.  “Coming Down the Mountain”, “Son of Man”, and “Renovation”.  Mostly that one, I made a lot of money on “Renovation” back in the 2013, probably because it had a house on the cover and, when everyone was buying THE THIRD FLOOR, they probably assumed it was another ghost story.
I put these stories back on Amazon under the banner “Horror Singles”, like songs.  Each story was short, so each story had a bonus story after, and I called these the A-Side (main story), and B-Side (bonus story).  I thought it was a clever idea and I stand by it.
But I don’t think anyone else caught on to what I was doing and anyway, short stories don’t sell.  Typically.  Every writer knows it, but we keep on writing short stories.  They’re easier, faster, and oftentimes a lot more fun to do.  But we do it on our own dime because no one buys them.
And if Amazon charged us for the space, or like $1 each time we wanted to hit publish on a new title, you’d see a LOT fewer single short stories and a lot more short story collections.  But they don’t, so whatever.
Back to my point.  I still, after 10 years self-publishing (I do NOT miss submitting AT ALL AT ALL), remain unable to fully reconcile the idea of publishing short stories as standalone titles.  I think they are legitimate works with just as much write to exist as any other form or art.  However, unlike novels, short stories have other avenues of release, like the short story collection.  You don’t see many novel collections, novels typically stand on their own as an individual entity.  Whereas the short story gets so little love.
And I don’t think EVERY short story I’ve ever written needs or deserves to be out there on its own, but I have a few here and there that I really like and want to draw specific attention to.  Stories like “Revenge of the Roach King” or “Working for the Fat Man” or “The Caterpillar”.  These are really good stories, and they would get lost in a collection.  Or worse, never even seen, because collections don’t exactly fly off the “shelves”, either.
Christ, I’m rambling.  All of this is a VERY long way of saying I’m putting those short stories back on Amazon.  New, BETTER covers, given another once-over for typos, with my updated bio mentioning Kara, and the calls to action are cleaned up, too.  Will any of this make a difference?  I would like to think so.
I am probably going to take those collections off the other platforms, Smashwords and Draft2Digital, because I’d like to have the shorts on KDP Unlimited, just to see what happens, but since those stories also appear in those collections, that violates Amazon’s exclusivity rule for Unlimited.  I mean, they call it Unlimited, but it is in fact VERY limited.  Like all the way limited.
And all of this led me to another thought yesterday at work.
When ebook and Kindle publishing was first becoming a topic of conversation on the message boards, one of my main problems was the idea of collectability.  I’m a BIG collector of all things I love, but it you’re talking print-on-demand physical copies and worldwide web e-copies, where does the collectors market stand?  You can’t print a limited run and make them more valuable because of their scarcity.
And I had this idea yesterday, what if you released an ebook and you paid close attention to the sales and, once a book hit 50 or 100 sales, you took it back down.  I know it’s not the same thing, but it IS an idea I kept coming back to a few times over the course of the day.
Yeah, I know, nothing is really LIMITED or UNAVAILABLE in a digital world, but I still thought it was a neat idea, so shut up.
Oh, and back to those 10 cent/page chapbooks.  So I mentioned the idea to another friend of mine, Dave Barnett, the founder and publisher of Necro Publications, and he shot it down without hesitation, citing the disdain for “vanity” publishing to the writing community at large—at that time.  He suggested instead I get on some horror message boards and just talk to people.
So I did.  And I made friends I had for a while and then they faded, and I made friends I’ll have forever.  What’s up, Dave?  Bain, that is.  We met back in the message board days and have been friends ever since.  It was Bain who told me about Smashwords and introduced me to the then-brand new world of acceptable self-publishing and the world has been a very different place for me ever since.
So while Barnett hated my idea, he did lead me to a place where, ten years down the line, that same idea was going to be just the way things were done.  Self-publishing is the norm now.  I don’t know a lot of writers, personally, who even care anymore about a traditional deal, considering how terrible those deals actually are for the authors, especially for “first-time authors”.  Self-publishing is the route most authors take and it’s the route I’ve been wanting to take since 2001 and it’s 20 years later and I’m 10 years in and dammit I’m putting my short stories back into the world as standalone titles.  All of which says, to me, that I was right all along.  So eat it, nerd!
At the end of the day, this is what writers have been doing since stories were first memorialized in print.  We write a story, then hand it out to a bunch of people, friends and family, and hope they like it.  Same principle, but now we can charge a few cents for it.

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