Free Reading -or- The Value of the Non-Seller

Earlier this week I posted a brand new short story on Smashwords.  It also has a page on my website.  It’s gotten quite a few hits.

It’s also generated some questions.  Why, some wonder, would you post a story for free when you could charge for it?

Two reasons.  First, Dorrin’s End is a short-short story.  It’s between 1000 and 1100 words–in some markets, that’s just barely over the flash fiction limit.  It’s still a good story, an interesting story, but not the kind of thing I would feel comfortable asking someone to pay for.

Second, it’s a way of getting my name out there in front of people who may never otherwise come across it.  Dorrin’s End is a fantasy short.  My hope is that someone who reads it, and likes it, might later check out The Crystal Cave.  It’s like built in sampling, by author instead of by title.

Besides, I like the story and I would like to think people might get some enjoyment out of it.  Dorrin’s End and Crystal Cave are birds of a feather, in some ways.  Both of them were shopped around to fantasy magazines.  Both of them received personal notes from editors with lots of praise–and both of them, due to financial reasons, were passed.

I think that kind of experience has value, even if the work ultimately does not sell to a magazine.  It helps you to build confidence in your own instincts; it helps you to become better at judging whether your own work is good.  And that is a skill that I think we are all going to need more of in this changing business.

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