Case Studies/James Patrick Kelly

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James Patrick Kelly is an acclaimed Hugo and Nebula award-winning science fiction author. He also is a well-known podcaster.

If a story gets published in a magazine and two years later nobody can put their hands on the magazine, is the story still published? I would argue that it is not. So get it reprinted, yes? No. The problem is that traditional publishing isn’t be all that interested in yesterday’s stories. So, I tell my students, if you want your published stories to become slowly unpublished, go ahead and leave them in the dark of your desk drawer. Me, I’m going to use the CC license and get my stuff under the light of reader’s eyes. And … um … in their ears. Jim Kelly


Jim Kelly is an acclaimed author that while known for his work in science-fiction, has written in a variety of genres, including mainstream or literary fiction, slipstream, fantasy and mystery. He has written five novels, about eighty short stories as well as poems, plays, essays and even a planetarium show. He has won two Hugos, a Nebula and a Locus Award. In the fall of 2005 he started Free Reads, a CC-licensed podcast. For more info, visit his website at

License Usage

Kelly has released two novels as Podcasts under CC-licenses as well as a variety of his short fiction and articles.


Kelly looks to CC licensing as a way to keep his works 'in print' without worrying about whether or not a publisher actually continues to print them indefinitely. Similarly, Kelly cites CC-licensing as key to "two highlights of [his carear". From Jim Kelly:

In 2005 I published a novella called BURN with Tachyon Publications, a small press that gave me a small press print run of about three thousand. I was able to convince my editor to let me podcast the book, a chapter a week for sixteen weeks, beginning right around the pub date. Many, many, many more thousands listened to the CC licensed BURN than read it. I was astonished when it was a finalist for the Hugo and won the Nebula. It’s funny, but on the announcement from the Science Fiction Writers of America for the award, it was listed as a podcast rather than a book. Some have claimed it was the first podcast to win a Nebula, and I suppose that’s so. It certainly is the first CC licensed work to win a Neb. Would my little novel have gotten this kind of recognition had I not given it away for free? I don’t think so.
About a year into Free Reads I got an email out of the blue from, the largest online seller of audiobooks. They said that they had been tracking Free Reads and were interested in working with me on a for-pay podcast project. This gave me a huge kick, because I was one of the earliest adopters of Audible. I love listening to audiobooks when I jog and garden and drive and potter around the house. We eventually closed a deal for me to record fifty-two stories for them for what came to be called StoryPod. Some of the stories they were interested in were already posted on Free Reads and part of our negotiations centered around how we could keep them available for free and at the same sell them on Audible. The folks at Audible proved to be flexible on this point; I think they recognized that satisfied listeners of Free Reads would be tempted to sample StoryPod, so all the stories stayed up.