The big benefit of Kindle publishing is that there’s no middle man anywhere. No client to tell you what to write. No publisher, ditto. There’s just you. Books take time to write however.
Formerly, novelists were considered prolific if they managed a book a year. Today, many Kindle authors aim to publish a novel at least once every quarter. They also aim to boost their presence on the Kindle Store with a regular short story publishing program.
Several readers have asked me for my best short story tips. I gave you five useful tips way back in 2013. I’ve updated the post, and was surprised that there wasn’t anything I wanted to change.
Here are those tips.
- Start with a character who’s got a problem
- Play fair: no dreams
- Get to the point, but not too quickly
- Consider the genre
- Write short stories/ READ short stories
GENRE is vital (tip 4), if you want to make money
Pay special attention to GENRE. When readers look for entertainment, they’re looking for a certain type of story. When you pick a hot genre, you’re giving readers what they want — that’s the essence of marketing.
Take a look at the Best Sellers in Fiction, on Amazon. A few examples of literary fiction sneaked in there, but mostly it’s genre fiction all the way.
An aside. If you want to write literary fiction, make sure you’ve got a few years to spare. Firstly to write your novel, and then to find an agent and publisher, and wait for them to publish your book. Five years sounds about right.
I’ve got nothing against literary fiction, but if you want to make a career of fiction, please realize that you’re writing entertainments. Readers read for an emotional charge, and for escape from their daily lives, so they read genre (commercial) fiction. End digression. 🙂
The “Short Stories” category on Amazon: choose an additional genre
Occasionally someone asks me why their short story isn’t selling. I look it up on Amazon, and check the category. Usually, they’ve posted it to Amazon’s “Short Stories” category, and nowhere else. Choose an additional category — your story’s genre. Better yet, consider category FIRST, before you start writing.
I’ve just checked Short Stories on Amazon, and it’s packed solid with erotica. A tip: if you’re not writing erotica, avoid that category.
In my own writing I tend to avoid the Short Stories category. Amazon only allows you to choose two categories, so I choose the most appropriate for the genre; I add short story, or novella to the title, and emphasize it in the description as well.
Another tip: it’s possible to put your book into more than two categories. Amazon will often do this for you. If not, then contact them and ask them to add your book to a specific category. Here’s a good post on Amazon’s “secret” categories.
Publish short stories regularly: it boosts all your fiction
When I’m working with students, I suggest that they look on short fiction as being free advertising.
A short story takes only a few hours to write, and it sells forever. Readers who enjoy your story will check out your other fiction. They may even check out your website and join your mailing list. You can get big results from just a few hours of writing. Have fun. 🙂
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Updated: April 25, 2017
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