My Christmas story from the December, 2006 edition of Analog is available for free now on Smashwords, and for 99 cents on Kindle if you, say, have a credit card balance of $99.01 and want to make it an even $100. Note that Smashwords has .mobi formatted files for viewing on Kindle, and I’m told there’s a way to get that file from your computer to your Kindle, so if that kind of manipulation is easy for you, there’s no reason to pay for it from the Kindle site.
I am working on getting it up at Barnes and Noble. The Pubit system seems to work slowly on the weekend. Again, properly formatted .epub files are available on Smashwords, and it is pretty easy to sideload those onto the nook straight from your computer (no helper application or emailing required), so the only reason you might want to pay $1 for the story there is if you wanted me to have the 30 cents. Which, if you do, is very kind.
I’ve also posted Improving Slay Times in the Common Dragon on Smashwords for free, so if you haven’t read that yet and are inclined for something silly and cynical, check it out. (People who have been to grad school seem to appreciate it quite a lot.)
I’m finding the self-publishing process to be interesting and fun. For me, at this point, it’s not going to be my primary publishing path, particularly not for longer works, but I can definitely see how it can complement traditional publishing. I also don’t think it would be that hard to launch an original novel using self-publishing outlets. I’ve spent some time “slush reading” at Smashwords, and I’m convinced that well-written, well-produced works would stand out like a sore thumb.
You can filter quite a bit just by reading the descriptions of the stories. They typically start with some kind of genuinely interesting McGuffin, and then deteriorate to uninteresting vagueness.
“Bob Smith is a bounty hunter for fairies gone bad in a futuristic New Orleans. When he falls in love with one of his targets, he is faced with the greatest challenge of his life, and must do a hard thing in order to prevail against evil. Please check out my book you will love it.”
And there are actual readers at Smashwords and in the Kindle community, so books that stand out get discovered, and get read.
That said, I’m still looking for a traditional publisher for my novel, and am still marketing my short stories to pro magazines, because the exposure I can get through those outlets is still much greater than the 100-200 word footprint I currently have in the self-publishing channels. That may change in the future.