Of My Own Stories…
I have 51 Issues of Smith’s Monthly published and #52 turned in. Those are, in a way, collections, since it is all my work. Novels, nonfiction, short stories, and so on.
But I have also been maintaining a spread sheet of all the short stories I have published in Smith’s Monthly. The spread sheet is so I don’t duplicate any story and I have about 240 stories on that spread sheet. (Found a Poker Boy story tonight not published in there, but in one of my two Poker Boy collections.)
Yes, I have two Poker Boy collections. They are called PLAYING A HUNCH and LUCK BE LADIES. You can find them both at https://www.wmgpublishinginc.com/poker-boy/
That’s ten Poker Boy stories, but I bet I got another twenty or more. Not collected.
And I have sixty or seventy Bryant Street stories that have been in Smith’s Monthly. But not collected.
A couple months ago I did a collection for the few short stories in my Seeder’s Universe. That collection is called A BILLION EARTHS.
So in case you were wondering, I have published more than three hundred short stories, written a ton more than that, and have 240 plus of them on a spread sheet for Smith’s Monthly, and yet I only have three collections.
I teach collection workshops, for heaven’s sake, and yet I only have three.
So decided it is time to get going.
Looking at back issues of my magazine, I spent almost an hour trying to decide if I wanted to do another Poker Boy collection or start a series of Bryant Street collections, or maybe do a Thunder Mountain collection.
So after an hour, I went another way and it took me exactly 20 minutes to put a six story collection together of alien stories and write the introduction. Title: A Case for Aliens. And I have at least six more alien stories easily.
Now I will do the cover and get it to WMG next week. (Just spent ten minutes on a rough cover below.)
But my problem wasn’t the stories, it was having far, far too many stories to pick from.
I talk all the time about writers needing to use the cash streams they have. I think I need to follow my own advice here.
I ended up with some of my favorite alien stories in this one. “My Socks Rolled Down,” “Squatters on the Street of Broken Men,” and “If Sex is All a Dream, Then Who Cleans Up the Mess?” Plus three more.
Here is a rough cover. Fun, huh?
Dean, any interest in expanding on “writers using the cash streams they have?”
I think I know what you mean, but would love to hear more here or in another post.
Greg, that comes from me asking writers at times “Are you doing this?” Answer is usually, “Uhhhh, no, no time.” If I had been asked that question about collections, my answer would have been the same. “Uhhh, no.”
Each of us have a lot of areas that are fairly easy, yet we don’t take advantage of, or haven’t gotten to yet, and so on and so on. When a writer has as many short stories as I have, I am leaving a ton of money and discoverability on the table by not doing simple collections. That is all I meant.
I vote for a Bryant Street collection. That’s my personal favorite of yours.
I’m going to do an entire collection series of Bryant Street stories. So thanks. I love writing those as well and I got a lot of them.
I really like the cover and title Dean.
When I started doing story collections, I was doing a “once a year of my Patreon stories” collections. They were nice for my Patreon people and didn’t sell at all. Once I started doing 5 story collections a couple of years ago (as per your suggestion) with themes that I turned into different series with branded covers (ie “science fiction short stories” or “LGBTQ short stories”) they started selling.
It’s pretty cool. And I have a tiny fraction of your story numbers.
Yeah, themes or branding to series or some such help readers grab on to the content. I never expect collections to sell many copies, but they do tend to sell regular copies and that trickle of cash streams is nice.
So speaking of series and collections,I have a bit of a newbie dilemma and I could use some advice.
I wrote a story in a new series that I’m very excited about. I already had another story written in the same series already,so I have two. Now the frame works very well for short stories,episodes. Sort of like your Poker Boy series. I know that for a fact. Easy as pie.
But there’s a voice in the back of my head that says that if I merge these two stories I can have a very nice start of a novel and turn it into an origin story for my hero. What should I do? Keep with the short stories or try for the novel?
Anything you want to do. Your story, there is no right or wrong way. Just do what you want to do, what feels right to you.
One of the fun things I’m learning this year, otherwise known as The Year of Short Stories and Collections, is putting my stories together shows me a lot about my own writing I wouldn’t have noticed before. I hadn’t been giving much thought to themes and areas of interest that were scattered out over the last several years. Because, yes, too busy!
But when I look at collecting five of them, that brings what I love to write about into sharp focus. Writing the introductions is SO much more fun than I thought it would be as well, to the point that I’ve gone back and written intros for older collections that didn’t have them.
What fun to figure out what this lump between my ears gets up to when I’m not paying attention!
I took one of the early collection classes to learn the process, and it was absolutely worthwhile, because now I’m working on getting all my Great Challenge stories into collections. I have two out so far, one about to go up, and two more ready for formatting. I’m also going with specific themes–one reason is to make marketing easier (I figure it’s easier to convince readers of why *this* collection of science fiction stories is different from any other collection of science fiction stories if it’s actually a collection of, say, near-future science fiction about how technology affects identity). But it’s also because it just makes it more fun for me–I like finding the connections between stories I’ve already written, and I like tossing my subconscious the challenge of, “Okay, I need one more story about technology and identity, what can you do with that?” and seeing what it comes back with a few weeks later.