So there are two kinds of short stories around here. There are the ones I write for my own amusement/based on the most recent tip jar, which are posted, for free, either here (as in the case of "Velveteen vs.") or on my website (as in the case of the majority of the Johnny and Fran stories). And then there are the ones I write because someone offers to give me money. I like money. It lets me eat; it keeps my lights on. I know it's considered crass for me to say, flat-out, that I enjoy money, but it's true. I grew up incredibly poor. I know what it's like not to be able to keep the lights on. This is much more fun for me, and hence for everyone who has to deal with me ever.
When someone offers to give me money for a story, it's generally because of the assumption that my presence in a publication will help them sell copies of the publication. I have a good relationship with many of the editors who buy my stuff, which means they think of me early in the process, and I am incredibly grateful for that, but it's not all altruism. They keep buying things from me because I continue to help them sell things. That matters. Which is not to say that y'all have a responsibility to buy everything I am published in! That would be...a lot of things. I have copies of everything I've been published in, and at this point, we're talking about five shelves, between the novels and the anthologies and the collections. Sometimes, you're going to have to make choices about your money that do not include supporting my career, and that is more than okay, that is the correct way to do it. Pay your bills before you pay mine.
That being said, because of that initial "Seanan will help us sell things" assumption, I am not comfortable posting stories from paid anthologies for free until those anthologies have become completely unobtainable. The limited edition of A Fantasy Medley 2 is still available from the publisher. Looking at the ordering system, it appears that twenty-five copies remain.
Basically, until those twenty-five copies are gone, I won't post the story anywhere, no matter how often I'm asked.
I have been reluctant to say this, both because a) I don't want people who have already bought the collection to feel cheated; it's a beautiful book, and if you have the money, it's absolutely worth the price, and b) I don't want anyone to say I'm holding "Rat-Catcher" somehow "hostage" to extort people into buying things. I'm not. I don't make any money from sales of the collection at this point; I've already been paid. Yeah, I'd like to be asked to contribute to books in the future, which does sort of inform my position, but more than that, it feels unethical to take money in exchange for helping to sell a book and then turn around and give the goodies away for free. But the question keeps coming up, so it feels like I need to say something.
For those of you who want to read "Rat-Catcher" and can't afford AFM2: please, be patient. Someday, the book will sell out, and I will be able to consider posting the story on my website. In the meantime, it's not essential to understanding or enjoying the series; it's an extra, it's deep background, and while I love it, it's not going to suddenly change everything. I promise.
For those of you who have already purchased AFM2: thank you so much. Isn't it a beautiful book? It's a beautiful book. All the stories are awesome. I treasure my copy.
For those of you with room in your budgets for AFM2, who have been considering a copy: it's a beautiful book. I highly endorse it.
And that is that.