Thanks for having me, Alain! I suppose I'm just this normal guy who just wrote a little story called Wool. It's about a group of people who live underground. When their society turns on itself, it threatens all of mankind. In a way, it poses the conundrum of every revolution: How do you destroy an unjust social structure without the collateral damage being worse than the injustices were?
I suppose the most interesting thing about me, personally, is that I lived on a sailboat while I was in college. This led to a career as a yacht captain, which sent me all over the Caribbean and the East Coast. I didn't start writing in earnest until my wife dragged me away from the sea and into the mountains. I've always loved the short form. I've been told that it isn't as marketable, even though science fiction has a long and glorious history of celebrating shorter works. It's strange, then, that my fame is growing on the backs of one of my smaller pieces.
Your novelette, Wool, really seems to be taking off! Just the other day you had mentioned on Kindleboards the possibility of a movie contract. Very exciting! Do you think that some of the success of the story is due in part to the word count (a "mere" 12,000 words) of the story or in spite of it?
I think if I'd stopped with the first Wool story, I wouldn't be quite where I am today. Ridley Scott wouldn't have optioned the work for film. It was following it up with more novellas and sating reader demand that really pushed me over the edge. The Wool series ended up being a serialized story, with releases coming more quickly than traditional sequels. I think early readers enjoyed this process as much as I did. And luckily, the end result hangs together nicely as a novel. It's a publishing method I hope to employ again some day.
Despite the fact that you have clearly written a well-crafted tale, I see you've still acquired a few of the reviews all short story authors fear: "Well written BUT too short..." Do you think this is an attitude that will eventually change as more and more short fiction becomes published?
I hope so. E-readers are a natural fit for works of all length, as there's no publication costs to satisfy. As for the bad reviews, I don't understand giving something a 1-star mark because you loved it but you think the length is incorrect. I charge the minimum allowed for the first Wool story (and way under-price all my other works as well), so it is a bit baffling. Still, I've learned to take these comments as a compliment. I've set aside many books as a reader that I couldn't get into enough to want to finish. The works I really loved were the ones I hated to see end. Also: if readers hadn't clamored for more, there's probably would be any more!
On Amazon you have a little disclaimer about how you are charging the absolute minimum for your ebook and that you make far less on standalones than you do on your collection. Why do you feel that this explanation is necessary?
Because some people who came late to the party and saw the individual entries thought I was trying to maximize my earnings. As you probably know, the opposite is true. Authors make half the royalty rate on less expensive works, which means you need to sell quite a few short stories before you can buy yourself a cup of coffee. To head these comments off at the pass, I finally decided to include something in the product description. It isn't the reader's responsibility to know and understand Amazon's royalty rates. It's my duty to inform them.
Despite the rich history behind science fiction short stories, they can be a tough sell these days. Any promotional tips for authors trying to work in niche markets?
Give your work away until you can afford to charge for it. I've been posting my shorts for free on my website for ages. I gave Wool to anyone who would even express a slight interest in reading it (and many others who did nothing more than glance my direction!). Most of all, write because you love it. Do it for the joy, and you can't go wrong. I don't have a single bad memory of the years I spent writing while working a day job. In fact, those were some of the happiest writing moments of my life!