My name is Alan Shelton, and I am a newly minted publisher of online short stories. I hang my hat at a website called Fiction Arcade (www.fictionarcade.com), and - thanks to the kind indulgence of Alain - I'd like to make a shameless-but-brief plug for it.
Fiction Arcade is YouTube crossed with iTunes, but for the short story. We provide a convenient platform where anyone can upload their work for free (a la YouTube), and we allow them to sell it for less than a dollar (a la iTunes). These two elements didn't mesh well in the days before omnipresent social media and online micropayments, but now they work like gangbusters for video and music sites. So why not short fiction?
Fiction Arcade is based on two premises: 1) that traditional publishers don't price short stories correctly and 2) that great stories get recognized and rewarded through a positive word-of-mouth feedback cycle.
Regarding the first premise, even other online publishers typically won't go below 99 cents. That's fine for a novel or even a novella, but for a six page story? A lot of readers might balk at that. But what if the price was, say, 20 cents? Admittedly, that's 80 cents less per sale for the author, but it's also potentially a lot more sales.
As to the second premise, consider YouTube. Sure, 99% of its offerings are junk, but there are a lot of gems to be mined from that remaining 1%. Besides, one person's junk is another's treasure. You may not think Skifcha the dubstep cat (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMnasxSxfl8) is all that entertaining, but I find it to be the pinnacle of human achievement. And people share what they like. A few downloads become a few dozen become a few hundred and so on.
But just like with any publisher, Fiction Arcade can only succeed if it attracts quality stories which in turn attract readers. So in order to entice authors to 'invest' their stories in Fiction Arcade, we're running a series of monthly competitions between May and December with a total cash prize pool of $9,000.
Each month from May to November, the most popular author in that month's genre will receive $250 as will the most popular author on the site overall. In December, the most popular author in each genre will receive $250, while the three most popular authors on the site overall (from May to December) will receive $1,750, $1,250 and $750, respectively.
Popularity in this case means story downloads and ratings. This turns readers into judges who vote with their pocketbooks. Thus, regardless of whether an author wins any prize money, all story downloads translate directly into royalties for the authors. Furthermore, stories remain available for download as long as the author wishes. The idea is to ensure that all good stories provide a return to their authors.
We've already awarded our first $500 in prize money for May to an up-and-coming sci-fi writer named Jacob Aldrich. The June contest is now underway, and there are still six months more after that. Come and help us grow Fiction Arcade so that Fiction Arcade can help grow the market for short story authors!
In addition to our main site (www.fictionarcade.com), you can connect with us through our Facebook writers' group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/fictionarcade/), Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/fictionarcade) and on Twitter (https://twitter.com/FictionArcade).