It’s been pretty widely reported that Amazon.com have started up their new Amazon Shorts program, which allows you to buy and read previously unpublished short stories and essays for just $US 0.49 each. They have some really fine writers involved, including people like Terry Bisson, Lucius Shepard, Jack Dann, James Morrow, Robert Silverberg and others.
A few people have suggested that, if successful, the program could grow into something to rival Ellen Datlow’s SciFiction. While I hope the program is a huge success, I’m not entirely sure how it will go. Why? Well, first, I’ve not heard much about who’s editing the program. Something like SciFiction has an editor like Ellen Datlow, who has both the skills and the smarts to do a great job. There are cool people running Strange Horizons and other fiction sites, but there’s no information on who’s actually editing for Amazon.com. This is supported by the information that Amazon has released about the program. It seems that once Amazon have okayed you, you can pretty much add anything you want. Hmmm.
There is another thing that I’m not sure about. If you sell a story to SciFiction you get paid (something like twenty cents per word I think). If you place a story on Amazon.com you get no payment up front at all, and split the 49 cents with the big A. Now, I think that could work fine for a Stephen King or someone like that, but I’m not sure how it will work for writers with smaller followings. I hope it works for them, but…. Oh, and for those interested, there’s a discussion about this over at Asimov’s.