Bryant & May In Shorts

Bryant and May

B&M Splash

Over the past few years whenever someone has wanted to publish a short story in the crime genre, either for a charity collection or an anthology, I’ve written a Bryant & May story for them. Now I seem to have quite a few in my files. But how to get them to the public? Short story collections really don’t sell well these days, so my idea of doing book of missing cases is still a non-starter.

I did release ‘Bryant & May’s Mystery Tour’ as a short story Kindle single and I’m told it did well. Is that the way forward with the others? My friend Joanne Harris publishes short stories on Twitter, which involves retailoring all the sentences to length. I can’t see that this would work for the old gits.

I’m loathe to just leave them in my laptop as some are quite good. Perhaps I’ll be able to convince a publisher to look at them after the twelfth novel is out next year. The tales involve circus freaks, mad musicians, period settings, whodunits and the odd locked room puzzle. It would be a pity to waste them.

Plans for a mass-market version of ‘The Casebook of Bryant & May’ graphic novel were scuppered by the original’s poor distribution, which meant people had trouble finding it anywhere. A new TV option has now been taken out on the books, but so far my attempts to reach a new audience have failed.

But these things take time. I’m happy to increase my story output if the interest is there. I’ll keep you up to date with any future developments.

28 comments on “Bryant & May In Shorts”

  1. I think I must be one of the few people who still loves and seeks out short stories so I would definitely be your market for this!. I do like Kindle Singles and have downloaded Mystery Tour.

  2. Peter Lee says:

    I’m not a fan of short stories really – just when they get going they stop, and too many seem to be based on a pun of some sorts, the punchline coming at the end of the story. Why not expand or consolidate them into novels? If the novels are selling – and the TV adaptation is still in the offing – why end them?

  3. Jo W says:

    Short stories? long stories? if the writing is good I’ll read them!

  4. Ralph Williams says:

    I would buy a short story collection, but what I haven’t seen done in publishing is to copy the music industry and include short stories as “extra tracks” on the next book.

  5. admin says:

    Kim Newman does it with ‘Aquarius’ bundled into ‘Dracula Cha Cha Cha’ – and as a bonus, his story contains a reference to a forgotten Bryant & May case.

  6. Stefan M. says:

    I think it would be a great idea to collect them into a book and publish them yourself (e-book and print-on-demand) for a reasonable price. Gives you more freedom and more money.

    You could also take one or two of them (like “On the Beat”, which is on your website anyway), publish them as stand-alones and get Amazon to make them free (through price-matching). That would be good promotion for the collection…

  7. Alan Morgan says:

    Sell them out of a suitcase. ”Ave a look, it’s a book, not too gory, nice little story. Gather round, gather round, price of a pint so triple normal ‘ere in London. In space no c*nt can ‘ear you scream? That was me, no word of a lie. It’s a steal, it’s a thrill. It’s sale of the f*cking century!’

  8. John says:

    There are many contemporary books that include “extra tracks” in the rear of novels. I see them all the time. Angry Robot, for example, does it with even their newest writers. Look at the edition of ZOO CITY by Lauren Beukes for an example.

    I think you are selling yourself short (ha!) on the idea that short story collections don’t sell. Last summer Sara Weinman published TROUBLED DAUGHTERS, TWISTED WIVES, a collection of women crime writer’s short stories (most of the writers completely forgotten or unheard of) and it did surprisingly very well. Maybe not making any bestseller list, but it sold well enough for her to contemplate a second collection. Do you really think so little of your fan base to deprive them of B&M in story form? I think you’d have plenty of sales to make it worth your while. Convincing a publisher is another tale altogether, I guess. Dare I offer this alternative… What about the self-published POD method?

  9. Helen Martin says:

    I have no idea how many lurkers there are on this site, but whatever the total is, that’s your core, count on them every time, audience. Please don’t put them just as e-books because some of us still don’t use those devices and I really want to own the books I buy. Print on demand might be an alternative for us, though. Love the suitcase idea, Alan, I can just see it!

  10. J. Folgard says:

    As Jo W wrote, I just want to enjoy the stories, whatever their length. I buy nearly as many short story collections as novels, they’re a great way to discover new writers and get nice “bonus tracks” from favorite authors. Publishers like Tachyon, Prime, Constable & Robinson and Solaris have become favorites of mine because they put out many enjoyable anthologies.

  11. stuart says:

    How about Chapbooks ? alongside an e-book offerring it would allow those who like the tangible product to have them? Nightjar press do a nice line in chapbooks with individual short stories. I would have thought a volume of the Bryant and May short stories would be a good seller – but what do I know, I’m just a keen reader …….

  12. Lee Carson says:

    Would some sort if crowd fundraising ( or reader fundraising) method that might work. Once you get enough prepayments or pledges to cover the cost them you could publish with the pledgers getting a personalised dedicated copy?

  13. Dan Terrell says:

    As a Charles Dickens fan, perhaps, you should revive “Master Humphrey’s Clock” (a weekly) which the author self-published for several years. During Its run, it published short stories and a couple of his novels, including “The Old Curiosity Shop” with Little Nell and her Gambling Gramps. Hell, some of us even might drive up to Baltimore or New York to get the latest installment of B & M straight off the ship.
    Can just see myself down on the wharf trying to stay out of the way of the hardworking Teamsters, waiting off to one side to get my copy.
    “Hey, bub, you the one waiting for this here British magazine about a couple of old men?” “Yes as a matter of fact.” “It’s five bucks; no charge for the oil stain toward the middle. That was Little Al Jambino’s contribution. He loved the story. Wants to get a subscription and back issues. You’d be wise to fix him up.”

  14. snowy says:

    Short stories are a bit hard to place, even selling them as ‘Singles’ is not without problems, from reading various comments/reviews left.

    Mostly disgruntled people who buy ‘books’ for pennies without reading the not-that-small-print about No-of-pages and then whinge and moan that they feel short-changed by the deal. I doubt that any of them is reading this, but if they are: You were a twit for not checking the number of pages before you bought the thing, and having a grizzle about it on-line just makes you look like an even bigger fool.

    Ahem… where was I? Oh short stories! it’s hard to avoid the ‘selection box effect’, not enough of the ones you like, and too many toffees slipped in to fill out the box.

    All the [mostly] sensible replies have already been made above, Lee raised an interesting point viz: ‘crowd-funding’ which is an idea that in book publishing goes back at over 400 years, initially books would be sponsored by a single wealthy individual, a patron who would receive effusive praise in the preface, [the most obvious example being King Jimmys Book]. This widened out later to multiple patrons under the ‘subscription model’, ante up the dosh, get a free book, signed by the author and you name in lights at the back of the book with about 200 others.

    So with all the best ideas gone, err…

    Four novellas in a single volume, might be more warmly greated by both publishers and public, [if the existing stock of stories could be blended/stretched to suit. Be nice if they linked in more than characters, but such things are not always possible.]

    Or, and this would require a little bit of extra work, but a Fowler/Newman collaboration would be quite a thing to read.

    [I’m assuming all authors have lots of short stories kicking about without anyplace to use them.]

    I can imagine a book that starts with alternating stories that initailly don’t appear to have any connection to each other. The stories then appear to slowly gel into two distinct but parallel narratives, only too fully merge in the last four stories/chapters, and resolve, [with an ending that involves a twist to avoid any canonical problems.]

    Well I’d buy it!

  15. Helen Martin says:

    So would I, Snowy, and I can’t help but feel that Admin is looking into some of the possibilities even as we speak. Oh, and Dan, it’s not the Teamsters on the dock it’s the ILWU.

  16. snowy says:

    Hopefully if such a tome were published, it would not be riven with as many spealing mistooks, foults of granmma, and the signal inability to putspacesbetweenwordz, as my comment!

    I hang my hed in shane.

  17. Wayne says:

    Myself and the other ‘Lurkers’ who do not always use their voice are here you can be sure of that.

    Now. As for a short story collection what more can I add to the already impressive list of comments already made.

    Get them into print one way or another I prefer paper as I am a little bit of a collector where your words are concerened and e-print doesn’t really do it for me.

  18. Some terrific feedback here today. Watch for an announcement based on your comments in the coming days. I always say if an author needs to find out whether an idea will fly, ask the readers.

  19. Dan Terrell says:

    Now, Admin has our attention!
    And, Helen, the instant I hit “Leave A Comment” I knew I’d erred and was open to a Gotcha. The ILWU it was, not the Teamsters, and I should have remembered it. It was not beyond my ken at all.

  20. Kit says:

    I tried to look up ‘Bryant & May’s Mystery Tour’ on, and it seems to be only available in the UK. I would love to get a book of Bryant & May short stories, but can you please be sure however you do it that it’s available in the US as well? Thanks!

  21. Normandy Helmer says:

    Dan, Alan, Snowy, thank you for the pleasure of your company and the gift of your twisted little minds. I like short-story collections, just as I like boxes of chocolates. Sometimes they can force you to reconsider the merits of something you had dismissed too quickly. Any format, as long as you can still buy them west of Ireland.

  22. Helen Martin says:

    I wanted to say, “Nor beyond my Ken” but that one I knew myself since I was a teenager living near a port during the fifties and my father was a Teamster member – in fact one of the reasons he was glad to move out of the city was that he would be unable to attend union meetings. The Teamsters were that bad then and don’t get me started on The De-Stuffing Clause.

  23. , says:

    I would love a collection of Bryant and May short stories.

    Please let us know if Mystery Tour become available to purchase outside the UK.

  24. snowy says:

    For anybody struggling to get ‘Mystery Tour’ as a Knidle Single download or simply prefer the old fashioned way it was collected into ‘The Mammoth Book of British Mysteries’ ISBN 1845297113

    [Don’t tell anybody I told you! because I’ll get into trouble, esp. when people realise that the above 500 page ebook is upto a $1 cheaper than buying the single story.]

  25. m says:

    Thanks snowy! Off to see if I already have that book.

  26. Reuben says:

    I always thought it a shame that Titan Books didn’t publish the B&M comic, they would of done a good job of getting it into shops where people might actually see it & they’re usually good at getting publicity too.

  27. gsl24fps says:

    A book of Bryant and May short stories? Lord, yes! I have no desire to read it as an ebook, however. I’m firmly on the side of printed material. As is, I’m sure, Arthur.

  28. Kathy Keenan says:

    I bought the graphic novel of the Casebook of Bryant and May and would love a short story collection. I’m in the US so I can’t buy British Kindle shorts (dammit!). I would love more graphic novels or a collection!

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