I’m a huge fan of writing short fiction, because it has enormous benefits in the current self-publishing climate. You can write a short story in an afternoon, publish it tomorrow, and make sales, almost instantly.
That said, please don’t run away with the idea that writing short fiction is the solution to all your self-publishing woes. That’s highly unlikely. Rather, think of writing short stories and novellas as strategy.
But why write short stories and novellas? Research shows that mostly shorts sell less well than full-length novels.
Why you should consider writing short fiction, even though novels sell better
Here’s the thing. Although novels sell better than short stories, you’ll make more money per page with your short fiction than you will writing novels. So, if you’re solely in it for the money, that’s something to keep in mind.
- Your short stories help you to write better novels;
- Short stories and novellas help you to sell your novels;
- Writing and publishing short fiction is an excellent marketing tactic.
3 tips to help you to get results with short fiction
Now let’s look at some tips which will help you to do more with less.
1. Build better visibility (and make more sales) when you earn “bestseller” status in a tiny genre/ category
Want to become a “bestseller?” You may have noticed that some ebooks have a tiny “bestseller” tag that Amazon puts onto them. At times, these are obscure ebooks, and you get a “huh?” reaction.
The reason these obscure ebooks are bestsellers is because the authors have lucked into an obscure category (or sub-sub category) with few titles, and the ebooks are bestsellers in their category.
A rose by any other name, etc… If you want to become a bestseller, you need to investigate niche categories. With luck, one of your short stories may fit into a category with minimal competition. Alternatively, if you’ve found a sub-sub category you like, you can write a short story which will fit into the category, and you’re on your way to bestseller status.
Found a sub-sub-category? Got a short story? Brilliant. All you need to do is get your short story into the category.
That sounds hard, but no, it’s very simple. All you need to do is email Amazon…
Now that you know what category you want it, you need to let Amazon get you there. Copy the exact line you want, like this:
Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Romance > Anthologies
When you contact Amazon KDP, they will put your book in whichever categories you ask. Be sure to list your book as non-classifiable under KDP. I was told by Amazon KDP to do so. Amazon will not create a new category—but they will add your book to any existing category.
If you’ve chosen the right category, and are making sales of your short story, before too long you’ll be a “bestseller”, and that has benefits. You can now promote your bestselling title, and Amazon will help too, by giving your ebook a boost. That boost can help your entire self-publishing catalogue, so that you make sales of your other titles too.
2. Publish frequently to sell more: yes, it really works
On one of my pen names, I haven’t published anything since last October. Five months is a long time in self-publishing. The lack of new titles means that my titles aren’t selling as well as they were, so I’m pouring more money into promotion.
When you publish something to Amazon, Amazon gives you visibility in its “new” listings. That visibility used to last a whole month. In the past year or so, your new-book boost only lasts a couple of weeks.
So, if you want to make sales, and see your sales increase, it’s very helpful to publish more, by writing and publishing short fiction.
3. Test ideas before you invest huge amounts of time
What would you rather do: spend a week creating a “minimally viable” ebook in a genre/ category, or spend six months writing an ebook which gets three sales in three months?
I love writing novels, BUT… Funny story. One of my pen names released a mystery/ thriller around two years ago. Sales? Mainly crickets. I’d be surprised if this poor little novel has sold 20 copies. This is upsetting, not for the lack of sales, but because I like the characters. I’d love to build a series using those characters, but since the novel isn’t selling, I’d just be digging a deep hole deeper.
That’s taught me a big lesson. Now if I get an idea for a series, I give the characters a trial gallop with a novella, or even a short story, before I invest the time to write a novel. If the short fiction sells, I know that a novel has a chance of selling too.
I hope you find the tips useful. Now, about Short Reads.
The difference between Amazon’s Short Reads, and other fiction categories
Readers have asked about Amazon’s Short Reads category — what’s the difference between that and other categories, and how do you get into it?
Basically, Amazon has a Short Reads category into which Amazon assigns ebooks according to length, and the time it takes to read them. So, if you write short fiction, Amazon will assign it to one of its Short Reads time-based categories automatically. It happens via Amazon’s code; you can’t affect the categorization.
Happy writing and publishing. 🙂
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