My Next Crazy Idea

A number of thoughts came together for me this morning, which was rather unexpected given how tired I have felt this week. Anyway, buckle up—we’re in for a bumpy ride today.

First, the internet revolutionized (killed and then resurrected) the music industry. Now there need be no corporate middleman between an artist and the fans. Artists can distribute their own music however they wish, for however much or however little they wish. Also, as much as movie piracy has become a problem, people are making their own videos and actually making money from them.

Now, our society as a whole moves at unbelievable speed when compared to a few decades ago. Everything has to be done now, and we cram as much into our lives as possible. So I’m wondering if this will ever carry over to the stodgy and steeped-in-tradition publishing industry. Some people have already broken out in new ways, with blogging and web comics, and some have found commercial success. I’m wondering if the medium of the short story is about to come into its own, as people continue to stretch themselves thin. That way you might go days or weeks without sitting down to read, and you won’t have forgotten what’s going on in a novel. (Yes, I know that short story collections are sold, but they’re not exactly top sellers for the most part.)

Next, I really enjoy writing, but I don’t have the patience (or, at this point, the skill) to write a complete novel, much as I would love to see my work at a bookstore. So here’s my idea: distributing short stories via the internet. Now, I know that some of you were invited to my private writing blog, which I obviously haven’t maintained very well. What I want to know is, hypothetically, if an author bundled a set of short stories so people could download it for a very small charge, could such a process work?

Think about it. A very few people download the book, then spread the word to family and friends, and eventually the process snowballs. Other writers join in, and we all have the potential to be successful, without an admissions editor at a publishing company to decide what people will and will not like.

I know that people already write and read for free via blogging (duh, look at where we are now), but this is a way to combine fiction writing (which is far less common online) with the convenience of the internet. And there are plenty of hurdles that would have to be overcome, such as people just passing along the stories to others rather than sending them to buy another copy, not to mention word of mouth actually spreading. But what I’m really wondering is a) if such a system could work, b) if my writing is actually enjoyable enough that someone somewhere might someday hypothetically pay for it in some way, and c) if anyone else would be interested in participating.

Hmm, I guess I’m more long-winded than I thought.


Anonymous said…
actually there are several authors well known and not so well known that sell their 'e-novels' and short-stories online.
Jen said…
It sounds fun. I think you'd have to make sure there's an interest/desire for more before you start charging people. I might sign up except i can't write fiction worth a lick. Maybe i'm more of an essayist.

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