Spare Time Income: Write Short Stories (Ebook)

Spare Time Income: Write Short Stories (Ebook)

Last year, I spoke with a writer who wanted to write fiction, but he felt that he didn’t have the time to write a novel. He was working long hours, and he and his wife had just welcomed a new baby. I suggested that he write short stories. When you don’t have much time to spare, writing short stories is much easier than writing a novel.

In a novel, you need to keep a lot of material in your head. The characters, the plot, character arcs, settings, and much more. With a short story, there’s much less to keep track of. Once you’ve got the basic situation, you can spend ten minutes on the story in your lunch hour, or you can write a complete story in a weekend.

If you get into the habit of writing short stories, you benefit in many ways.

Writing short stories: a wonderful strategy to build a career as a writer of fiction

Let’s look at some of the benefits of writing short stories.

  • Writing begets writing. You’ll get more, and better, ideas when you’re writing, rather than just thinking about writing;
  • You’ll become confident writing fiction;
  • You can make money. However, be aware that you won’t make a huge amount from single stories, and the amount you make depends on your genre;
  • You’ll be able to extend some of your stories into complete novels;
  • You can collect your stories into bundles, and can sell the bundles as books;
  • If you’re already publishing fiction, short stories are a wonderful marketing tool.

Writers have been asking me about how to get started writing short stories for years. Last year I created a class on how to write short fiction.

I’ve also published an ebook, Short Fiction Secrets: How To Write And Sell Short Stories.

Short Fiction Secrets: How To Write And Sell Short Stories

Short Fiction Secrets: How To Write And Sell Short Stories is our new ebook on writing and publishing short fiction.

You may be wondering who the ebook’s for. It’s for anyone who’s interested in writing profitable short stories.

Here’s an excerpt from the ebook, on the story question.

Excerpt: The all-important story QUESTION (you must have it)

The “story question” is also known as the dramatic question. It’s the heart of your story — you must have a story question, in order to create suspense. No suspense, no readers.

Suspense is the reason people read fiction: they want to know — what happens next?

It’s easier to create suspense than you might think. Paradoxically, it can also be harder, because it forces you to make choices.

Your aim should be to answer the story question in your short story. That said, there are occasions where you might not answer the big story question in your story. As a beginning author of fiction, I suggest that you DO answer the story question.

Tip: although there is just one major story question in a short story, in novellas and fiction, there are many ongoing questions. The story question’s thread runs through your longer fiction, and won’t be resolved until the end. You need other questions which are either resolved as the story progresses, or which wind up as their sub-plot winds up.

The story question (no matter how simple) generates suspense… what’s your story about?

Getting back to Molly’s story.

Your story question can be anything you like:

  • Will Molly clear her name, and discover the murderer?
  • Will Molly discover that she’s about to lose everything, because her partner is selling her business? (And has mortgaged her home?)
  • Will Molly’s romance with the lead detective end in happily-ever-after, or heartache?

Decide on it early, and introduce your story question asap — within the first 500 words.

Write short stories which SELL

I wrote Short Fiction Secrets: How To Write And Sell Short Stories to help you to write short stories which sell.

It’s packed with tips you can use, whether you’re a new fiction writer, or are an experienced pro.

Short stories are fun to write. They can help you to build your writing career. And of course… you can write them in your spare time, even if you only have ten minutes a day.

And if you’re wondering about the writer who didn’t have time to write a novel, he’s now well on the way to establishing a fiction writing career. He wrote short stories for a couple of months, then one of his stories took off; he kept writing, and it became a novel.

I asked him where he found the time. He told me that he just did — he worked on the novel when everyone else in the house had gone to bed. At the moment, his novel is being copyedited. He’s still writing short stories, and now wants to write a serial. He’s well on his way to establishing himself as a fiction author.

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check our our ebooks for writers.

Writing For Money: 3 Magical Storytelling Tips

Writing For Money: 3 Magical Storytelling Tips

Your success as a writer depends on your storytelling ability. I include ALL writers in that, not just fiction writers. Whether you’re writing for the Web, blogging, copywriting… or of course, writing fiction… today, writing for money means telling stories.

So how do you tell stories? Since your ability to tell a story equals income, it’s worth thinking about.

Writing for money: sometimes one word is a plot

Let’s look at what a “story” might be. Google says that a story is: “an account of imaginary or real people and events told for entertainment.”

In Writing Short Fiction: What’s a Short Story?, we said:

“In a short story, someone wants something… a likable character undergoes a transformation, or learns a lesson, or solves a big problem.”

You don’t need to get fancy with your stories. Sometimes a story is just a word.

Bestselling novelist James Patterson once headed the ad agency J. Walter Thomson. He shares this story about the power of stories:

“The Amish have an excellent reputation for making top quality products… a family in a town close to an Amish community had to find homes for a litter of kittens. They put out a sign… ‘FREE KITTENS’… no one stopped. Then they changed the sign to ‘FREE AMISH KITTENS’. The litter was gone in a day.”

“Amish” — one word told a story.

Let’s look at some easy tips which will help you to weave stories into your writing… and make more money.

1. Find a story, and use it: stories resonate

Stories work because we are drawn into them. They resonate with us — or they don’t. Currently there’s an election coming up in Australia; it’s fascinating to think about the stories the politicians are spinning — and who they’re targeting, and why, with those stories.

When you choose a story for a piece of writing, it’s a way of making the writing relevant to a specific group of readers, in very few words.

If you have a blog, which basic story are you using? For years, the tagline of this blog was something like: when writing’s more than your career, it’s your life. I changed the tagline at some point to: professional writing for love and money.

Taglines are important. They’re a reminder to me that I keep the blog relevant for a specific group of writers. Does your tagline tell a story?

2. Images tell a story and evoke emotion

Images are becoming more and more important to all writers, because we’re competing for audience attention.

Some companies use images brilliantly. Consider Greenpeace, and the images they use to tell a story — tiny boats going up against huge ships. That’s the story of David and Goliath, and it resonates with their audience.

When we discuss fiction, I tend to natter on about emotion. Telling stories, whether you do it with words or images, is a shortcut to emotion.

3. Become your reader, and tell that story

“You” is one of the most powerful words in the language. (“Free” is another one.)

However, when you use “you” you’re still at a distance from the reader. Ideally, when you’re telling a story, you want to get so close to the reader that you become him. This can be challenging to do, even in copywriting.

It means paying attention to voice. If you were the reader you’re targeting with a piece of writing, who would you be? What would you sound like? What would be important to you? What would you pay attention to?

Start by telling yourself the story of who you imagine the typical reader of a piece of writing to be. Then experiment with writing as that person. And tell more stories. 🙂

Telling stories is fun, and it’s profitable too. So go ahead — tell stories — do it any way at all. You can’t make a mistake. Use the power of “once upon a time.”

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check our our ebooks for writers.

Successful Freelance Writing: 3 Essential Tips

Successful Freelance Writing: 3 Essential Tips

Quitting your day job is scary. Whether you quit on purpose, or were let go, it means big changes. Do you have what it takes to create your own job via freelance writing?

I’ve been a freelance writer for MANY more years than I care to think about. These days, I don’t hunt for new clients. I’m more focused on my own writing, and on the clients who’ve been with me for many years. But I know what it’s like to be a new freelancer, and scared.

Chin up. Make up your mind that you WILL succeed.

Freelance writing: hello independence

Before we get into the tips, keep this in mind: you cannot fail.

Today, anyone (and I do mean anyone) can be a successful freelance writer. There are more markets for writers globally than there have ever been. Companies are making huge profits in the freelance marketplace: thousands of jobs for writers are posted on the job marketplaces every day, and these companies take their cuts from what writers earn.

Which brings us to (just to repeat): you cannot fail.

Decide that you’ll be a successful freelance writer making six figures annually, and you will be. Onward to the essential tips. 🙂

1. Charge more! (Please)

From Lessons From Year One Of Freelancing:

Don’t Underestimate Your Worth

“When you’re first starting out it’s way too easy to fall into the trap of underestimating how much your work is worth. In my opinion I think this largely has to do with what people think about the hierarchical system that’s present in every, “regular” job. As a result people get stuck in this belief that they have to start with low rates and work hard until they have enough seniority to earn more money.”

Make a list of the topics you’re comfortable covering, and the forms of writing you know that you can write.

If you’re a complete beginner, realize that you’re embarking on a journey which means that you’ll spend your entire life learning. You’ll need to learn about your clients’ businesses so that you can write for them. You’ll need to learn about the topics you cover in nonfiction. You’ll even need to learn story structure, psychology and copywriting when you write fiction

Writing means endless learning. Learn to love it.

And once you love it, for goodness sake — CHARGE for your skills. What’s inside your head is valuable — but only if you know it is.

In addition, remember too that the clients who pay the most don’t advertise: they’re not looking for generic “writers”, but they have communication needs. If you can spot what your high-paying prospective clients need, and can show them you can help them to get what they need, there’s no ceiling on your income.

2. Be helpful, be kind, be professional… It’s who you know, and who knows you

Yep, as in many other professions and industries, it’s who you know. This means that you need to spend a few minutes daily on contact development.

Take this to heart: people know people. Often very surprising people. Every large commission I’ve received over the years was offered to me because someone I knew knew someone else. From that, I’ve learned that every single genuine contact you make is valuable.

Our first tip was “charge more”. This tip is just as important — be helpful, be kind, and most of all be professional.

If you’re shy, that’s excellent. You don’t need to be an extrovert to make contacts. You can comment on a blog post in ten minutes. Provide sufficient useful content in blog post comments, and in forums, and people will contact you and hire you.

Remember the people in your daily life. Your hairdresser, accountant, and other small business people. They know people too. Write a short ad for your hairdresser, for free. I’ve created names for products, taglines, and small ads for people I’ve got to know, just to be helpful. I wasn’t expecting anything in exchange… but karma works. You will benefit, in some way, always, when you’re helpful.

Proviso: please realize that I’m not suggesting that you allow yourself to be exploited. Avoid spec work.

3. Invest in your business: get the tools you need. Pay for promotions

Free this, free that… Yes, it’s tempting to look for the free option, especially online, where many tools are free.

Writers need few tools. Once you start earning, invest some of your profits in top tools. It pays off.

In addition, spend a portion of your profits on advertising.

Take an ad in your local paper, or nearest big-city paper, and run it for three months. Just let the ad run. You will benefit. While you’re running your ad, write a press release or two and send it to the paper. Point out that you’re an advertiser. You may be surprised when a reporter and photographer show up to do a story on you.

When you do get a story in your local media, parlay that to more exposure. (In other newspapers, magazines, radio, and even TV, if you’re comfortable in front of a camera.)

By the time you’re getting media exposure, look to our first tip… charge more.

Write anywhere, and write what you like… have fun 🙂

The freelance writing life may have its challenges, but it’s also huge fun. No commute, for a start. No office politics — you get to decide whether or not you’ll work with someone who wants to hire you.

If you’re considering freelancing, give it a try. It’s not for everyone, but it may just be for you. 😉

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check our our ebooks for writers.