Author interview: Chuck Heintzelman

How did you become interested in short stories? 
As a reader, I fell in love with short stories as a kid.  Especially Edgar Allen Poe.  Then Lovecraft and anything bizarre and weird I could get my hands on.  I plowed through magazines like Ripley's Believe It or Not, but really I became an indiscriminant reader, consuming anything and everything.

Unlike most authors, I wasn't pounding away at a typewriter in the womb.  I didn't start writing until my mid-30's.  Wow, that's ten years ago now.  After writing several deservedly unpublishable novels I started on short stories and began having lots of fun.  My goal this year is to create 50 new short stories.  I'm currently writing my seventh and having a blast doing it.

As an author, do you think writing short stories is worthwhile? Why? 
Absolutely.  The problem many authors I've talked to have is they have too many ideas.  Writing short stories allows you to explore more ideas in a shorter amount of time.  As far as learning the craft, short stories are great.  You can write 4 or 5 thousand words, polish them the best you can, and get feedback quickly. From start to finish it only takes a week or two instead of three months writing a novel and several weeks getting feedback.

But, above all, the most worthwhile aspect of writing a short story is entertainment.  Both for the author and the reader.

What types of short story promotion have worked for you? 
I'm new to the promotion game.  Heh, I only discovered KindleBoards a week ago.  Having a website is a must.  I get decent traffic on mine.  Recently I've had over a hundred visitors in a single day.  That may not sound like much, but to me it's exciting.

I've put some stories up at SmashWords and for the last week have been allowing people to download them for free.  In the last two days I've had 75 people download stories of mine.  I know these aren't JA Konrath or Amanda Hocking numbers, but keep in mind that three months ago I didn't have any stories out anywhere except my web site.

What types of short story promotion have not worked for you? 
I haven't been adept at using Twitter to promote my stories.  I only have a couple hundred followers, but have had only a handful of visits to my website from Twitter.

Do you consider 99 cents to be a fair price for a standalone short story?  Why or why  not? 
Without a doubt 99 cents is a fair price.  Look at the price of a single cup of coffee.  And I'm not even talking fancy Starbuck's coffee.  If you figure people read prose at a rate of between 250 to 300 words per minute.  That's 16 - 20 minutes of enjoyment for a 5,000 word story.

Check out Chuck's site


  1. Personally, I'm not convinced either that Twitter is worth it =)

  2. Me neither - Twitter just appears to be yet *another* way for me and my mates to talk rubbish with each other, which I'm not sure we needed... (that said, if anyone does want to follow me I'm @JHEverington !)

    At the risk of being repetitive, another good interview Alain - I think you need to find someone who hates short stories, just to mix it up a bit!

    Off to check out Chuck's site now.

  3. I thought about that, actually. I just haven't figured out a way to put a request on Kindleboards. "Hey, I run a short story blog and I would like some guest posts from people who dislike the genre."

    I don't even have a Twitter account. It seems to me like you (royal you) end up getting a couple hundred followers but most of them couldn't not care less about what you put. Is that a wrong assessment?

  4. Thanks for this Chuck and Alain!

    As for Twitter...I dunno. I'm on there, but most of the time I wonder why.

    And frankly all the trends can get annoying, especially follow friday. Don't see the point.

    Shana Hammaker
    Twelve Terrifying Tales for 2011

  5. Eesh... trends... that's almost as bad as school spirit *shudder*.


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