Friday, May 20, 2011

The Dangers of Field Work / William Vitka

Reviewed by: BigAl

Genre: Short Story/Horror/Science Fiction

Approximate word count: 1-2,000 words

Availability Kindle: YES    Nook: YES    Paper: NO
Click on a YES above to go to appropriate page in Amazon or B&N store


A fan of the over-the-top pulp horror and science fiction of days gone by, William Vitka aims for the same in his fiction. An author and journalist he lives in New York City. Vitka has written another short story, Bodily Harm, and The Boneyard: A Novelette, both available for your Kindle. His debut novel, Infected, will be published in June 2012.


A communist worker on a strange planet questions why the colony must work so hard for food. Then monsters arrive, killing her coworkers with shooting flames.


At just under 2,000 words, this quick read rapidly pulls you into the protagonist’s world. She’s hungry and frustrated at first. Hunger turns to terror and a fight for survival when monsters attack.

As I was reading Vitka’s tight, descriptive prose I was continually cycling from disoriented to thinking I had a handle on his story world. Then something major would happen, disorienting me again. The final twist turned my perceptions upside down, as the world came into focus in a way I never imagined.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant errors

Rating: **** Four stars


Bradley Convissar said...

I'm intrigued, but I can't rationalize spending $.99 on 2,000 words. If Mr. Vitka would combine and sell some of his shorter works for $.99, like many other authors do, I would definitely pick it up

Jacklyn Cornwell said...

Bradley, have you ever considered what you spend for a magazine and how much of that is devoted to advertising and not the stories? You pay more than 99 cents for that, so why not 99 cents for a short story?

I've been told it's all about perceived value and with the ebook catalog filled with novels for free and for 99 cents, it may be hard to justify the same for a short story. Sometimes combining short stories into an anthology without a central theme is difficult at best and problematic at worst. I'd be interested in your views.

DM Gembala said...

Though horror is not my usual genre of choice as I tend to read just before bed, I love well-crafted story regardless of length and genre. I will happily spend 99 cents on something that will bring me more long-term enjoyment than the overpriced caffeine hit Starbucks serves me.

BooksAndPals said...

I find the subject of appropriate cost for an ebook interesting and a bit problematic. Everyone has their own way of deciding what is reasonable and different factors they use to come to that. Length of the book/story is one factor some people use which is why we include it in our reviews. I could write an entire post on the subject of ebook pricing. Maybe I will some day. :)

I'm going to (hopefully) not express an opinion - or not much of one. I think each person ultimately has to decide what is right for them.

I think the two comments from J.M. Cornwell and DM Gembala hit on several good arguments for either direction. It comes down to perceived value and also what you compare it to. Compared to a full length novel it is hard to justify. Compared to a Starbucks coffee or a typical magazine it is. Compared to going to your local library it would be hard to justify buying a book at all.

Yeti said...

for 71p I'd buy a short story for the kindle...if I bought a short story each time I fancied a king size twix (74p!) I'd probably drop a few pounds too...but that's a whole other tale!

William Vitka said...

BigAl; I just wanted to thank you very much for the review. I appreciate it greatly.

Regarding the price concerns mentioned, I do understand them, and I've spent a lot of time thinking about them. With 'Dangers,' $.99 was simply the lowest I could price it on Amazon.

Combining some super-shorts (as well as some flash) into a collection is a very attractive idea, though.

Thank you for all the comments and food-for-thought, guys.

Bradley Convissar said...

Being a writer of short stories myself, I have never felt write asking someone to pay $1 for a single story, even one that is 10,000 words. I just feel uncomfortable. Not that I don't feel that my stories are worth it, considering that other people do the same, but I want people to feel that they get value for their money. $1 is only $1, but it is real money, and it adds up if you read a lot. Personally, I bundle my stuff together so people feel that they are getting some value. Just a personal opinion.

You know, this may not be fair, but I look at the guy who writes an 80,000 word novel. He spends half a year on it. Pays $1000 for professional editing. And then he asks for $1-2 dollars for it. Maybe even $3. And then I look at the guy who sells a single short story for $1. Its 2,000 words. The author spent a week, if even that, on it. And asks for basically the same price (maybe a little less) as the author who spent half a year on his book. Everything is relative, but I feel a little, well... ripped off spending $1 on 2,000 words. And I think to myself, he should be offering me more for a dollar when so many authors are.

This is not an indictment of William. He may be a wonderful author. And hundreds, even thousands of people, may feel that a single short story is worth $1. But I just can not do it. Even if one of my favorite authors, like King or Barker, started selling 2000 word short stories for $1, I probably wouldn't buy it either. Because, to me, its just not worth it. And I wonder if the author respects his audience enough. Give me 10,000 words and I'd probably buy it.

Is it fair to correlate price and word amount? It's an individual thing. I just feel that if so many others are offering more for the same price, why should I spend the same money on less? I can get three short stories from author A for a $1, and if I like them, I can get 3 more for another $1, because they are sold as short collections. But if author B sells each short story for $1, and I like the first one, well then, I'm out $5 instead of $1 to read more.

I can't look at it like... "well, a coffee is 2 or 3 dollars, and you drink that in five minutes. Can't you spend $1 on a book that will give you ten minutes of enjoyment?" Its an erroneous comparison. Coffee and books fulfill different needs. I may fall in love with a coffee that no one else can match, so i need to get it to satisfy that need. But unless you REALLY love an author, you can get better value elsewhere, even for $1

Well,that's it. Let the abuse begin!

Naomi said...

The beautiful thing (in my opinion) about electronic publishing is that it makes all the options available, and leaves the choice up to the consumer. Happy to drop a buck on a quick read? Gotcha covered. More comfortable paying $10 for a book from an established author? Can do. Want cheap, long reads from new authors? Easy peasy. The key is ensuring that the customer knows what she or he would be getting.

Some people find shorts a far more satisfying experience than novels... short attention span, difficulty multi-tasking (so that picking up a book after a few hours away is difficult), slow reading pace. They may well be backbone of a new single-short-story market.

Greg E said...

I'm honestly surprised by that mentality. I'm not rich or anything, but a dollar seems like such a small and insignificant amount that to say someone's work isn't worth it borders on an insult.

Personally I wouldn't pay anything for a book or short story I don't expect to like, but if it's a matter of word count, a dollar is the price of a candy bar, it's absolutely disposable.

Anonymous said...

From my perspective, the only thing that makes 99 cents seem like "a lot" for a short story is that so many people are selling their novels for the same price - but they're doing that for an obvious reason. Personally, I feel like I'm stealing when I buy an eBook for 99 cents.

I look at the whole eBook marketplace as a sort of literary flea market. There's something for everybody. The only time I've felt ripped off is when I bought something for two bucks on the basis of a few decent reviews and it turned out to be horrid dreck. But even then, what the heck. It's like buying wine in Portugal. You pay a buck, you open it, if it's drinkable, you drink it. If it's not, you dump it and buy another.


Marion said...

Just putting in my two cents. Sure, I know that e-book pricing is a complex issues, but I've got to say 2,000 words is exceptionally short. I wouldn't pay 99 cents for it especially as there is just so much free stuff in the world. I know that Kindle is exploring promoting and publishing long essays, short stories, etc even by well-known authors at for a low price and I welcome this, but 2,000 words! I've written longer comments! Now if the author bundled five of those stories together, that would get me to spend my $1.00.

Julia Walker said...

Hopefully you're paying for quality - not quantity. I worked for estate agents who insisted on charging 2.5% & 3% when all other agents were at 2% or less. Our 'For Sale' boards dominated that town - we were offering great value for money - a good agent makes sure you get market prices and a rock solid buyer.
You want something to read for free - there's always Yellow Pages.

It is hard though putting a value on your own work & its interesting to see what others think.