Monday, May 17, 2021

The State of the Loon • 17 May 2021

Spring returns to the North Country. I know I’ve written this line several times before, but this time it seems to be for real. At least, the weather service assures us that last week’s frost was an unseasonably late anomaly and this time it really is safe to replace all those garden plants that froze to death last week.

I suppose the uncertainty of the arrival of spring here is why I feel such a strong affinity for “Finding Spring” by Sipora Coffelt, which if you have not read it yet you will find in SHOWCASE #1. If you have not read it, please give it a look. The book is only $0.99 to buy or free for Kindle Unlimited subscribers.

If you have given SHOWCASE a look and liked it, please give it a rating. Ratings and reviews help sell books. If you like and support what we’re trying to do here, please, help us sell books.


Spring here in the North Country is the time for rebirth, renewal, rediscovery, and finding new directions. For example, that columbine in the garden. Discovering it prompted a short conversation, amounting to, “Where the heck did that come from? Did you plant it? I don’t remember planting it.” Nonetheless, the bees seem to like it, so it’s going to stay. We’re very big on bees around here.

Spring also brings cows, frolicking in the pasture. I know it’s kind of frightening to think of animals that large frolicking, but they do. Cows can be quite playful, actually. Think about that the next time you’re eating a cheeseburger. 


SHOWCASE is much on my mind this morning because I’ve been spending a lot of time researching and reevaluating how we go to market. The deeper I delve into it, the more bottomless the rabbit hole seems. There has been a tremendous amount written about how to sell books successfully on Amazon; so much so that I’m beginning to think the real secret is to write a book on how to make big money selling books on Amazon. There certainly seems to be a bigger market for those kinds of self-help books than for actual original novels, much less for short fiction.

Lately we’ve also been taking a long, hard look at Kindle Vella, which if you're not aware of it is something you should be, as Amazon will be putting a lot of promotional muscle behind it in the coming months. Vella essentially is a new platform for delivering serialized work in small chunks and collecting micropayments. At first we were hoping we could use it as a vehicle for continuing SHOWCASE in a new and preferably non-money-losing way, but the deeper we dug into it, the clearer it became that it would not serve that need. 

We will be using Vella to serialize THE HOSTAGE IN HIDING, the latest novel in Henry Vogel’s Fugitive Heir series—oh yeah, and here’s a sneak preview of the cover art—but we have some reservations. Amazon seems to be going out of their way to make it difficult to connect “the Vella experience” to any existing novels that are already available on Amazon. They will be making it very difficult to release the completed novel as a normal book once it has been serialized on Vella. And in case you were going to ask, they have absolutely forbidden serializing any novel that has already been published in any other form.

So much for my dreams of getting some value from Headcrash while I’m going through the painfully slow process of converting it to ebook.


Finally for today, a number of people have written to ask if or when we are going to reopen to submissions, or if we have already opened for submissions without announcing it.

We are not open for unsolicited submissions at this time. The confusion stems from my giving both Pete Wood and Guy Stewart permission to run contests, the winners of which are to receive token payments and publication on the Stupefying Stories web sites. We already have the first batch of winners, from a flash fiction contest that Pete ran on a writer’s site that he belongs to, and some of these people have reported their wins as sales on various submission tracking sites.

So to reiterate: we are not open to unsolicited submissions at this time. We have not decided whether we will have an open reading period this year. At the moment, my focus is mostly on taking care of the writers who have signed publication contracts with us and who have been waiting patiently for us to publish their stories, concurrent with figuring out how to do a much better job of selling what we publish.     

After all, there isn’t much point in publishing fiction if it doesn’t get into the hands of people who want to read it.

—Bruce Bethke

P.S. And check out and maybe read some of our books, wouldja?



Pete Wood said...

We closed out two contests and a third is still pending. The stories are micro-flash, less than 100 words in the first two. And the stories are GREAT! Can't wait for y'all to read them.