Mark Edward Hall

The Official Website of Author Mark Edward Hall

My surprise best seller. Don’t ever give up on a story.

I have three legacy published books. The Lost Village, The Haunting of Sam Cabot, and The Holocaust Opera. Those who read my blog and keep up with my writing activities know by now that I’m sorry I ever went with a publisher. That’s not news but it is truer now and more relevant than ever. There is a post on this blog about how to make money publishing short stories on Amazon. If you haven’t read it you should. Here’s the link. There are other posts relevant to the independent author as well. And if you are an independent writer and you’re not familiar with Joe Konrath’s blog you need to be.

What I want to talk about today is a little novelette I wrote nearly fifteen years ago entitled The Hero of Elm Street. Now I’m primarily a horror writer. The Hero of Elm Street is not a horror story. It’s a light-hearted little ghost story about love, loss and the power of hope. Not generally my style, but because of my grandmother Luella, who meant a lot to me and was my greatest influence, the story has always been dear to my heart.

Back in the dark ages before kindle and nook and self-publishing (now known as independent publishing.) I sent that little story out to nearly every literary magazine in the country. I didn’t hear back from most of them. I did hear from Yankee. They said they liked it but felt it wasn’t right for them at the time. Yeah, we’ve all heard that before. So I buried the story and pretty much forgot about it.

Well, a year ago I decided to include The Hero of Elm Street in my collection, Servants of Darkness. I knew that it might get lost or overlooked in a collection of primarily dark tales. And I was right. Even though the collection has been selling reasonably well, I haven’t heard many people comment on that individual story.

So, on a whim I decided to put it out as a stand-alone story. I commissioned a cover and a little trailer and published it on Amazon. It sold some copies but nothing to write home about. So then I got the bright idea to include it as part of Amazon’s KDP Select Project and offer it for free for five days. KDP Select allows Prime members to borrow books, but the books also remain for sale. The only caveat: authors who sign up must agree to go exclusive with Amazon for a period of ninety days. I didn’t care. The story wasn’t doing much anyway. What did I have to lose?

250 copies were downloaded in the first three days of the promo and I thought, well, good try but that’s that. Then something amazing happened. Within the next twenty-four hours the story exploded as more than ten thousand copies were downloaded. I was stunned. I started receiving messages and mail and reviews, most saying how much they were moved by the story and thanking me for publishing it. I couldn’t believe it.

It was all very nice but I figured after the free promo ended that would be it. I was wrong. It continued to sell at an alarming rate. And some of my other titles started taking off. I don’t know what happened. I didn’t do anything different with this story. It’s a mystery to me, but a good mystery.

I see now, a week later that it’s slowing down some but still selling briskly. I couldn’t be happier. The point of this post is to encourage writers to never give up on a story. You don’t know what’s going to turn the reading audience on. And when you’re faced with an opportunity to put your work in front of a bigger audience, do it.

Don’t ever give up on a story.


The blog you just read was published on Jan 22nd of this year. As of this date, April 3rd,  my little story has sold nearly nine thousand copies. That’s quite a feat for a short story and at $1.99 a pop that’s a a considerable chunk of change. Some of my other short stories are doing good as well and I’m hoping my new novel Apocalypse Island will find readers.

Publishing short stories in magazines and anthologies is good for the writer’s spirit, but there isn’t much money in it. There hasn’t been in a very long time. Now with the advent of devices like kindle and nook it seems that readers are rediscovering short stories and this has got to be good for both writers and readers.

Mark Edward Hall

13 Comments to “My surprise best seller. Don’t ever give up on a story.”

  1. Todd Thorne Says:

    Have to agree wholeheartedly with your assessment of KDP Select. It provides a fast track right to the heart of the mighty Amazon awareness and publicity machine. I’ve been wondering what price that kind of access might be worth and have pretty much concluded the cost of 90 days exclusivity is rational, provided your track record and fan base isn’t significantly off-Amazon.

    I’m in month #2 of having my dark sci-fi short story collection available via KDP Select. One of the stories has already been spun off as a standalone offering. I’m seriously looking at doing the same for the other longer ones.

  2. William Collins Says:

    Great post Mark. I’m glad your story found it’s way into the hands of readers after all that time. I enrolled my book in KDP Select yesterday, after a lengthy debate with myself, thanks to authors like you who share their success and failures online.

  3. Mark Says:

    Good for you, Todd. I wish you every success. And William, in my opinion you have nothing to lose. Good luck to you both.
    I plan on blogging regularly as to my success and failures in hopes that other independent writers can learn from my experiences.

  4. Laurie Says:

    Wow! You have some totally awesome covers!! Wishing you great success! I would also love to host you on my blog if you are interested. There’s an easy request form on the right sidebar near the top. What an amazing journey for The Hero of Elm Street!!

  5. Blaze McRob Says:

    Needless to say, Stacey decided to try the kindle KDP Select for one of Angelic Knight Press’ books. While it will take a little time to assess the results, from everything I see, we will be happy with the results. Thanks for this great post and the others you write.


  6. Winslow Eliot Says:

    This was so interesting to read: I had resisted KDP Select because of the exclusivity thing, so this is a fascinating glimpse. And I want to reiterate, having been published traditionally (mainstream) and independently, that I agree with your experience of being much happier going the independent route.

  7. Mark Says:

    Thank you, Winslow. And thanks for visiting my site and recommending my novels. I absolutely love being an independent author. It seems so strange to me when I read about authors who are still hoping that one day a “real” publisher will feel benevolent enough to give them a second glance. They’re so busy looking at the trees they can’t see the forest. We are blessed to be living in a time when we have total control over our own success.

  8. Mary Metcalfe Says:

    What an inspiring post! I’ve been dithering over what route to take and leaning towards indie… this just pushed me right off the ledge! Thank you Mark! Would you like to do an author interview on my blog? I’m looking for authors for the month of May. I have a very “neat” interview guide… not the usual approach.

  9. James W. Lewis Says:

    Thanks for posting this! I just included my first short story Premature Eradication in KDP Select and will have the promotion next week. The March promotion for my non-fiction ebook was a great success: I went from averaging 1 sale a month (with no promotion or advertising) to 100 copies sold after I had a two-day free promotion (5955 free copies were downloaded). I’ve scheduled both books in April, with April 11th being a free day for both books at the same time. I’m curious to see what happens.

    You can read about my first experience with KDP Select here:

  10. Mary C. Moore Says:

    That’s an inspiring story! I tried the same thing with one of my stories on KDP select. Lots of downloads on the free days, but nothing after that. Win some, lose some. Keep on truckin’ right?

  11. Mark Says:

    Hi, Mary,

    I want to thank you for checking out my blog. Since that post sales have steadily fallen to sane levels. I’ve tried other titles with mixed results. I think the success of The Hero of Elm Street was partly because I got in on the ground floor when Amazon first announced free titles, and the competition wasn’t yet frantic. Like everything else, as soon as a few have success thousands try to emulate it. Now there are so many free titles on a weekly basis it’s no longer a novelty. Actually I’ve pulled most of my titles out of Amazon’s select program simply so that I can offer them on other sites like smashwords. I’m actually doing better with Barnes and Noble than I am with Amazon. Not sure why that is.
    So anyway, keep up the good work, and I wish you much success. I’m going over to your site right now to check out your books.


  12. PlanetWildflower Says:

    Hi mark,

    Havent stopped over in awhile, glad to see your doing well.

  13. Mark Says:

    Thanks for stopping by, Ms. Wildflower. I’ve missed you. How’s the little one doing? Hope all is well in your world.


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