When I finished writing, re-writing, editing, and publishing Critical Failures, I was a little bit exhausted. I was happy with what I had done, excited about sending it out into the world, and eager to continue the story.
But damn, a full-length novel is a dark and lonely journey. Especially one that's part of a series. There I have the added challenge of leaving the reader satisfied with the conclusion of a story arc, but still keeping them hungry for more. At that point in my career, I didn't even have the fan-support I enjoy today, or the financial incentive (I was completely unknown, and sales were slow going). I needed a break before tackling Book 2. But I didn't want to waste what precious little writing time I had.
So I thought I'd take a couple of the guys on a little side adventure. Something that wouldn't have any major consequence on the events of the novel. Maybe I'd be able to give it away for free or something, to generate interest in the novel.
That effort became Cave of the Kobolds. It was refreshingly fun to write, and editing was easy because I didn't really care too much about this story. It was just a bit of goofing off for me. I had my brother in law throw a cover together real quick, and put it up on Amazon.
I hadn't yet gone exclusive to Amazon at this point, so I put it up on Smashwords as well, and set the price there to free. After a few days, Amazon price matched it, and Cave of the Kobolds was free.
That was a while ago, and I don't really remember if that strategy helped me sell novels or not. But I knew I wanted to have another go at writing a short story.
I took ZOMBIE ATTACK!!! a little more seriously, and it was around this time that I decided (due to the negligible sales I was getting through other channels) to pull my first two titles from Smashwords and grant Amazon the required exclusivity to qualify for KDP Select.
It was also during this time that a marketing strategy started brewing in the back of my mind. I cut myself off at six short stories and bundled them together in a collection called d6. Then I went to work on Critical Failures II. That started the pattern you see me continuing to follow today.
Some have speculated that I flood the market with shorts to take advantage of Amazon's Kindle Unlimited program. Sadly, I cannot claim such brilliant marketing savvy. It was a happy coincidence that Amazon decided to release a program perfectly suited to the strategy I had already been using for quite some time.
Ever since I started writing the shorts, I've been constantly asked the same three questions, which I will answer now.
1. What order am I supposed to read the short stories in?
Read them in any order you like. They're all self-contained mini-adventures. You can even read them before you read the novels (that's kind of what their initial purpose was, after all). I try to keep in mind that any of these might be the first work of mine a new reader reads.
If you want to read them in the order they were written, you can follow the order they're listed on my ebooks page (left to right), or read them in the orders they're listed in the d6 collections.
2. Where do the short stories fit in to the ongoing plot of the novels?
Easy answer. They don't. Early on, I thought I might try to work them in, and you might notice a few comments certain characters make in regard to the plot of the books, but when I wrote Shipfaced, I knew it was time to let go of that idea. You can think of the shorts as non-canonical. They're ways for me to get more titles out, take a break between novels, and do some fun and experimental things that I might deem too silly to try to shoehorn into one of the main books.
3. Why are these short stories so goddamn expensive?
Thank you, valued reviewer, for leaving such an insightful, well-thought-out 1-star review of a book you didn't read. Allow me to do you a different favor, and present you with a simple lesson in economics.
You might have wondered at some point why a McDonald's hamburger doesn't cost $1,000. And judging by the logic demonstrated above, you probably came to the conclusion that Ronald McDonald is just a selfless clown who cares deeply for the economic well-being of his customers, and who is constantly renovating his enormous house.
But I would posit a different hypothesis. It could be that Ronald McDonald, crafty clown that he is, considered the possibility that, if he were to charge $1,000 for a hamburger, no one would buy any hamburgers. He might have even factored in some supply-and-demand logic, and priced his hamburgers according to what he thought was the highest price he could get the most people to pay, thereby maximizing his profits. Or maybe that's just me and my tinfoil hat conspiracy theories.
Condescension aside, there are reasons I price my short stories the way I do. I am in complete agreement with Captain Fucktardo up there in that $2.99 is way too expensive for a 37 (37!!!) page short story, which is why I don't expect anyone to buy them at their listed price.
Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read any of my books for free (not including, of course, the cost of said subscription). Anyone else can read the short stories as part of the d6 collections.
Alternatively, one can wait for one of my Kindle Countdown sales. $2.99 is the minimum base price a book has to be in order to qualify for the Countdown. The week-long burst of sales I get during that time gets my books to more readers than if I were to have a lower list price all the time.
You see, I am in this for the money. And readers should appreciate that. Because these goofy stories are what puts a roof over my kids' heads and food on the table, I hold my work to a higher standard than I would if this were just some hobby. I respect my readers, and aim to provide only the highest quality dick jokes in exchange for their hard-earned fistfuls of gold pieces.