Author interview: Mary Anna Evans

How did you become interested in short stories?
When I was a graduate student in chemical engineering, I found myself feeling stifled.  I scribbled numbers and greek letters on my papers all day, but I couldn't remember the last time I'd written a complete sentence.  To keep the right side of my brain from shriveling, I audited a course on short story writing, and I found the art form so rewarding that I wrote short stories almost exclusively for the next decade.  They weren't universally trashed--I won a campuswide award and I received complimentary rejections from people like Marion Zimmer Bradley, Algis Budrys, and Kristyne Kathryn Rusch--but none of those stories ever saw publication.

Eventually, I got past my nervousness over the daunting prospect of writing a novel and I eventually wrote one that was published.  Six more have followed.  Shortly after ARTIFACTS came out, I had an otherworldly experience for a never-published short story writer--an editor *asked* me for a story.  It happened again...and again, until I had several published short stories.  When I realized what was happening in e-publishing, I published three of them as stand-alone stories, and I also published them together in a mini-collection called OFFERINGS.  When Red Adept named OFFERINGS the best short story collection of 2010, the oft-rejected story writer inside me felt like it had all been worth the wait.

As an author, do you think writing short stories is worthwhile?  Why?
Actually, as an artist, I'd say that any art form that expresses the things the artist is trying to communicate is worthwhile.  Short stories, in particular, give the fiction writer a chance to thoroughly explore an idea that is tiny and exquisite, but would be weighed down by the development and complexity required to support an entire book.  Stories give me a chance to get every detail the way I want it to be.  To me, a good short story is like a finely honed jewel.

What types of short story promotion have worked for you?
I submitted OFFERINGS to Red Adept, who gave it a five-star review that gave quite a nice bump in sales.  When she put it on her Best of 2010 list, I saw another bump.  Since I felt that $1.49 was a fair price for three stories, OFFERINGS was low-priced enough for the folks at  Its best day for sales so far was the day it appeared on DailyCheapReads.

What types of short story promotion have not worked for you?
That's hard to say.  I see a steady stream of sales that don't seem attributable to any one promotion, so even the things that don't pay off immediately may be helping in the long run.  Promoting an ebook is a long-term endeavor, but that's a good thing.  It's far better to know that you can promote a book long-term, rather than racing against the day when your publisher lets it go out of print.

Do you consider 99 cents to be a fair price for a standalone short story?  Why or why not?
I'm charging 99 cents for my individual stories--"Starch," "Mouse House," and "A Singularly Unsuitable Word," but only $1.49 for OFFERINGS, which contains all three stories.  This gives buyers who take all three a once a quantity discount, which seems fair.  Later this year, I intend to compile a book-length collection, which I expect to include ten to twelve stories.  I plan to price it at $2.99, because I think novel prices are going to settle out there, and I think it's a fair price for a full-length book.  This will mean that buyers who choose to purchase a large number of stories at once will get a still-bigger discount, and I think they should.

Check out Mary Anna's work on Amazon
Or on Smashwords


  1. I know I already mentioned this to you, but it's really nice to have a viewpoint from an established short story writer. Very encouraging. Thanks for participating.

  2. I appreciate the opportunity, Alain. There were many years when I couldn't even imagine being referred to as "an established short story writer." :) I think the short story is an art form that deserves more attention. Thanks for featuring it on your blog.

  3. Wow--a rejection from Marion Zimmer Bradley?!? I think that would make my YEAR!

    Thanks for sharing this Mary Anna!

    Shana Hammaker
    Twelve Terrifying Tales for 2011

  4. No kidding. :) It goes without saying that I kept that rejection. Well, I kept them all, but I kept that one for its autograph value. LOL.


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