I'll say it right up front;  with the advent of epublishing I think there's been a rebirth of the short-story.  In fact I think in both volume and in quality, ebook publishers are bringing to the reading market some of the best written stories ever seen.


What's more, a number of epublishers are actively seeking out authors who want to write a series using the short-story as its main vehicle for presentation to the reading public.  I have no less than three such series going on with Trestle Press.


And I'm happy as a lark about it.  Here's one of my newest series.  Classic police-procedural detective work.


Eleven stories featuring Turner Hahn and Frank Morales.  Only the beginning for these two.  Lots more stories coming.  Here's the Amazon site for it.


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I think you would be better off self-publishing. Why go with a publisher that can't even get you a professional-looking cover? Or at least a different-looking cover. A quick look at their "website" (can't even bother to get rid of the blogger bar at the top) show that all their book covers look basically the same. Name of book on top, name of author on the bottom. Yours is different in that respect, but it still uses yellow for the title for some reason. Why yellow? Nothing else in the design is yellow. Many of them even use the same typeface with the same terrible fake metal look. Sometimes the letters from the top word overlap with the letters of the bottom word. And what kind of publisher puts its logo (a logo that always pass a white rectangle background, no attempt to blend the logo with the rest of the design) on the front cover? Even if it's just an ebook release, that's unacceptable. 


Your work deserves better than that, doesn't it? 

We'll have to disagree on this one, John.  The reason I went with this ebook company is because THEY wanted me.  They pay for the proofreading and formatting.  They do the artwork for me.  And they have some nifty ideas on how to market ebooks.

As to their cover designs I can point to thousands of self-published ebooks out there who look far, far worse.  But I can also say their artwork is improving with each passing month.  They're brand new, John.  They have growing pains to go through.  Learning how to be a publisher is a pretty steep learning-curve.


No, I'll stick with these guys and ride this train for a while.  This is one of those 'ground-floor' opportunities I think is going to pan out.

I can't speak to covers that fit a title into a specific sub-genre, as B.R.'s most likely does.  I write for a specific niche market and have had so many bad covers from the big publishers that I'm teaching myself to design the covers for the e-books.  I also don't use an e-publisher, just a formatting service.  E-publishers take too large a chunk of the royalties -- my problem with the legacy publishing houses.  However, if you get great marketing and promotion, it may be worth it.


I will say that I enjoy doing covers.  I've always enjoyed doing art work.

Undoubtedly artwork is important.  Rightly or wrongly it speaks to the quality of the written work.  There are numerous ways to design a good cover.  I happen to enjoy your newest book covers, I.J.  Simplicity of design evoking Oriental mystery is what I see in the Akitada titles.  Good work!

Wow!  That is if you're talking about the e-books.  Thanks.  I may put up the cover for the collection.  Unfortunately, Crimespace always gives me fits.  Whatever size I have seems to be wrong for it.  Anyway, if I ever finish the German police procedural, the cover would look very different. Photographs instead of art.

I think your Penguin and Severn House covers are really good. I don't know how you can look at those covers, and then look at the cover for, say, "The Water Sprite", and think that yours is better. The typography is the problem, and I feel bad typography is usually the culprit with bad book covers. 

But why pay for a formatting service? Formatting is way easier than designing a book cover (I've done both myself) when it comes to getting a clean, good-looking end result. 

Maybe I'm in the minority on this point, and of course I'm not commenting at all about the content of either your or B.R.'s work; I just know that when I'm searching for something new to read, whenever I come across a poorly-designed book cover, I just pass right on. The stigma of the self-published book is still there, at least for me. 

Either way, I still think it's unconscionable for a publisher to use the same typeface, the same fake metal look, for so many books. It shows a disregard for the content of the book and for the appropriateness of the design of the cover to the book. And when the words overlap, as they do in many of those Trestle Press covers, that just shows sloppy design. New company they may be, but there's no excuse for such sloppy design. 

John, you don't mince words, do you?  The Penguin covers were done by a manga artist.  They are fun to look at but not really fitting for the books.  Also, my name is almost illegible. That's a no-no.  The first Severn House cover is good.  The second uses very poor art work.


As for "Water Sprite", that's a short story.  Actually the background is really good on that one. The lettering could possibly be better, but when you're working for an Amazon-sized image, you cannot do a lot.


You should know that professional cover designs for the 6 big publishers are usually ripped out of Google image banks without regard to the content of the book (as were the two Severn House covers).  That's why they often publish the same cover for two different titles during the same season.  Lettering alone is insufficient, though it should be legible and the author's name should dominate.

Excellent, B.R.  I'm also getting ready to put out a collection of Akitada stories.  They're in the hands of formatters as we speak.  I have fans who prefer short stories and write me about ways of getting hold of those that once appeared in the pages of AHMM and are now gone forever.  That's the great thing about Kindle et al.  Stories no longer die when the magazine issue goes off the shelves.

Very good luck!

Back to short stories;-)...Do you folks who have been in the writing game for a while see more profit with epublishing than with the traditionals for your shorts?

In a word . . . yes.  Am I rolling in dough and swimming in a sea of greenbacks?  No.  But the short story market . . . the fiction market in general . . . has been expanded by a factor of a 100.  Far more opportunities now than ever before.

Well, I used to sell to AHMM.  Still do perhaps.  They pay about as well as anyone.  But selling stories as e-books can make good money over time, even at 35 cents a sale. 

I do think the e- market has created an opportunity for short stories and fiction of all lengths. You have to remember, story length demands were, up until now, a condition put on writers by publishers to make stories fit a particular book-size because of shelf space demands and the sales forces perception of what they thought they could or could not sell. Now, story size can be solely dictated by story content.
The e-format is the perfect platform for a resurgence of not only short stories but novelella and other story lengths.
Good topic
David DeLee
Fatal Destiny - a Grace deHaviland novel


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