Each and every week, we receive queries from writers who are interested in writing short stories. Can you really make money with short fiction?
Yes, you can, and there are many ways to do it.
How to make money writing Kindle short stories
Here are three ways I can think of — use your imagination, and you’ll find more.
1. Write and publish — enroll in KDP Select (no frills, no hassle publishing)
Write short stories of 5K words or more, and publish them, enrolling them in KDP Select when you do, so that they appear for Kindle Unlimited subscribers.
The more you can write, the better. Stick to a single genre for your first five stories, and make it a series, or a serial. That is, ensure that the stories are connected in some way. Then once you’ve completed the series, you can publish these related short stories as a bundle. (Your individual stories remain on sale.)
A couple of writers asked about Kindle Unlimited’s new “pages read” policy: “do we need to write novels now?”
All that counts is that your ebooks’ readers READ. It’s all about the pages, not about ebook length, per se. Readers who are are pushed for time like stories they can finish quickly. That said, a lot depends on the genre.
2. Build your mailing list with free short stories
You need a mailing list of readers. The easiest way to get readers onto your mailing list is by offering them a free short story.
Write your story, compile it to PDF, and offer it on your website. Include a link to your Subscribe page in the back matter of all your ebooks.
I’ve seen several authors doing this:
- They publish a free short story to their website;
- After a week, they take down the short story, and put up another one;
- Once they have a collection of five or more short stories, which they’ve posted, then removed from their website, they upload a collection of these stories as an ebook.
The benefit of this strategy is that not only do you get more subscribers onto your mailing list, you also get more traffic to your website, where you talk about all your ebooks.
3. Use some of your stories as prequels or sequels to novellas, or novels
[clickToTweet tweet=”Write: You can’t publish what you haven’t written” quote=”Write: You can’t publish what you haven’t written” theme=”style1″]
I know that new authors especially, get all tangled in “what will I write?”
My philosophy — write. Sort it out later. You can’t publish what you haven’t written. In addition, when authors get stuck, it’s usually because they’re going against their story.
As I said in this post:
Here’s how I work. When it’s time for me to start a new fiction project, I just sit down and start. I start with a character, and that character is involved in a situation. As the situation becomes clearer, I create a minimal outline.
When I start writing, I just start. I don’t have any preferences. If a story turns out to be a short story, I’ll know by the time I’ve written a couple of thousand words, so I just finish the story, usually on the same day I started it. Then I start something new the next day.
The big catch to any short story strategy: a new author’s uncertainty
If you’re a new author, most of your writing challenges stem from doubt. Writing short stories goes a long way towards stemming your doubts in your abilities. As your writing muscles develop, and your skills grow, you’ll become a lot more confident.
So — write short stories. For the first time ever, it’s possible for new writers to get paid for learning how to write fiction.
Those of us who started writing years ago, when you spent years collecting rejection slips, that’s totally amazing. Take advantage of the opportunities you now have.
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Updated: October 7, 2016