Monday, November 9, 2009


At Bouchercon I saw convincing evidence that the paper book was not dead, as hundreds of fans hauled away rolling cases filled with new acquisitions. But there was also much talk of the popularity of e-books, which got a dramatic boost from the Kindle.

A completely separate ongoing conversation had to do with the threatened death of the short mystery story. The most vocal proponents of this form belong to the Short Mystery Fiction Society which gives out the Derringer Award for the best short mystery of the year.

The challenge with short stories is that there are precious few places to get them published. Alfred Hitchcock and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazines have little competition these days. The Strand is a larger, slick magazine that also publishes some fiction among other things.

So the question arises, will people buy short stories the way they buy novels in e-book format? Perhaps the short story form will gain even more popularity if the stories can be purchased individually.

If short fiction sold individually is the leading edge of the new wave of reading options, then Echelon Press is standing at that edge. Their new line of Echelon Shorts allows readers to download quick reads for small money – much like downloading the songs you like to make your own IPod mix instead of buying whole CDs.

I loved the idea I decided to submit a story myself and was pleased to be accepted. So now, for a couple of bucks, new readers can get the flavor of a Hannibal Jones novel in a few thousand words. My short story, “A Little Wildness” has all the basic elements of a Hannibal Jones novel in a bite-sized package.

Naturally, I hope you’ll give the story a try. But more to the point, I hope you and others will step further into the 21st century and sample other short stories on the site. This could be the reading plan of the future and we get to be there today.


Rob Walker said...

Austin - yeah shorts have been leading the way in ebooks as in where I put up an eleven installment running horror novel in short bites, and JA Konrath put up enumberable shorts but we don't want to get into those odors that come along with Joe's shorts, any rate, first rate blog and thanks for sharing. I had not heard that Echelong had gotten into doing its own electronic ebook store, but I know Tony Burton has a paperless bookstore on the web now at where I have put up my Dead On Writing, a how to....and my opus Children of Salem.
Thanks for coming by and sharing. I just did my own blog Friday on using electronic publishing to breathe life into a book editors and agents declared DEAD!!! Scroll down and leave a comment there, man!

Terry Odell said...

E-short stories are definitely out there. My first sale was a short-short to The Wild Rose Press. They've discontinued their ultra-short reads because readers wanted a bit more length for the money, but they still have all their other lengths. I have five short romances available. Check them out.

They're inexpensive, and short enough so it's not a strain to read them on a computer if you don't have an e-reading device.

Morgan Mandel said...

Ebook shorts like your new one are a great enticement to readers to go out and buy another, much longer book in a series.

Also, for authors who only do stand alones, shorts are great. Readers can get a taste of what the writing is like and hopefully come back for more. Plus - there are no dreaded returns to worry about.

Morgan Mandel

Charlotte Phillips said...

Thanks for sharing, Austin. We've been fortunate to have some of our short stories published in anthologies, which sell pretty well, but are generally themed. In other words, your story has to fit the books overall theme.

It's nice to know other markets exist for shorts.

Mark and Charlotte Phillips
A Box of Texas Chocolates (2009)
A Death in Texas (2008)

Charlotte Phillips said...

PS - your new Hannibal Jones novel looks intriguing.

Deb Larson said...

Hey Austin!
Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us. Good to see you at Acme again. :)
DL Larson