The Fiction Reprint Market Is Dead!

The most frustrating thing about being a short story writer is that the fiction reprint market is dead. A non-fiction writer can write an article for one magazine, slant the focus of the article for other magazines, and have a back catalog of articles to sell as reprints with minor changes. (Since I rarely write non-fiction outside of my blogs, I’m assuming that the Internet hasn’t killed off the non-fiction reprint market as well.) Once a short story is published, its life cycle comes to a dead end.

Very few print magazine and anthologies will take reprints, and some e-zines will take reprints if they haven’t appeared on the Internet. Most will pay little or nothing for reprints, and aren’t worth the trouble in chasing down. A short story collection is good for entering the annual contests, but don’t expect to find a publisher unless you’re already a prize-winning literary writer and/or best-selling novelist. The fiction reprint market is dead—or is it?

Several months ago I was finishing up some maintenance work on my websites when I caught the tail end of the #blogchat conversation on Twitter, where Georganna Hancock mentioned something about publishing ebooks for the Amazon Kindle. I asked a few questions and she pointed me to Kindle Direct Publishing.

Doing some more research, I came across Smashwords and their fantastic style guide for formatting ebooks. I soon uploaded my first ebook, “The Uninvited Spook,” my first published short story that I long had the reprint rights for, to both Amazon (Kindle) and Smashwords (all other ebook readers). Since then I have published a half-dozen ebooks featuring 10 reprints and seven original flash stories to earn $12 USD on 17 copies.

The traditional fiction reprint market is dead, but publishing reprints as ebooks is alive and well. Short stories published in hard-to-find magazines can now be read by new readers in widely available electronic formats. The one question I hated to hear from my readers—okay, only one person ever asked—is where they can read my work. I used to point readers to my credit list and anthologies page. Now I can point to my ebooks page, where my work is available for reading.

Half of my ebook sales came from the reprint of a Christmas shopping essay about how far my mother went to get her granddaughter a Cabbage Patch doll. While releasing a holiday-themed essay before the holidays may explain why it may be my most popular ebook title to date, I read elsewhere that original non-fiction sells well as ebooks. I’m planning to release a dozen ebooks coming over the next two years, mostly reprints and some original essays.

The Perfect Writing Desk For Five Bucks

New Computer Desk For Five BucksI’ve wanted to get a new writing desk for six months. The nearby OfficeMax store had a computer desk that was more like a narrow table for $55 USD. (The other local OfficeMax stores carried the same desk for $80 USD.) As a member of the OfficeMax MaxPerks award program, I get coupons from time to time. The typical coupon is save $15 USD on a $75+ USD purchase. If I didn’t have $55 USD for a new desk, I certainly didn’t have $75 USD for a new desk and whatever else to save $15 USD.

OfficeMax recently sent me a coupon for $50 USD off the purchase price of ANY DESK in stock. The coupon was loosely worded. I went to the store, picked up the desk, and presented the coupon the cashier. Not surprisingly, the coupon didn’t scan. I think the coupon was for the $150+ USD desk sets that covered the showroom floor. The manager came over, read both sides of the coupon, found the word DESK on the box, shrugged his shoulders, and entered the override code. I got a new writing desk for five bucks.

My old desk was a computer desk with a sliding keyboard tray and a bottom panel to store the computer and printer. I got it ten years ago to replace a monster desk that didn’t survive moving to different apartments a few times. Back then I was still working in the video game industry, playing video games at home, and taking computer programming classes at school. For what I was doing then, that desk was perfectly suitable.

When I became serious about being a writer, I got a folding table for my typewriter. (Yes, Virginia, I’m that old.) This worked out just fine. I seldom wrote or edit on the computer desk itself. That work got done behind the steering wheel of my car during my lunch break, at the kitchen table, on the floor or in bed. After I gave my old Mac Mini to my friend for his birthday last year, I no longer needed a computer desk. I did need a new desk that was comfortable enough to write and edit on.

The desk I got for five bucks is five inches wider, five inches less deeper, and an inch lower than my old computer desk. I’m closer to my wall-mounted monitor, have free leg movement underneath with no bottom panel to block my feet, and the height is comfortable for writing and editing by hand or keyboard. The only drawback is the black finish that makes the dust too visible and I have a feather duster nearby to make the dust less visible.

The new table helped wean me away from editing on paper to editing on computer, something that I been trying to do for ages. With most of my short story submissions being sent by email, now was the time to embrace the mythical paperless office.

At five bucks, this new writing desk was a steal. Thanks, OfficeMax!