I get questions about short stories every week, asking whether short stories sell. They do. As I’ve mentioned on my writing journal, I’m quitting ghostwriting fiction. In 2015, all the fiction I write will be my own.
(Updated in late 2016… Um… I didn’t quite manage that; but it’s my goal for 2017… :-))
I’ll be writing short stories A LOT after I make the switch. Not only because they sell, but also because they’re perfect for marketing. And also because I love hitting the Publish button. 🙂
Apropos short stories selling, from The Passive Voice:
I currently have four novels out with a small market publisher, and the fifth is due out in October. Unless something dramatic happens, my next novel will be self-published. I say this because in the past six months I’ve written and published four short stories through Amazon’s KDP, and I make more per unit sold from those four shorts than I do from the four novels even though they’re being sold for less. Sales have not been a problem. I fail to see the downside to doing this.
Notice that Gene says that he “makes more per unit sold” from his short stories than he does from his novels.
I sell my short stories (under a couple of pen names) on Amazon for $2.99. They’re romances. Yes, romance readers are voracious, but I’ve seen short stories in many different genres on Amazon. $2.99 seems to be a sweet spot for novels too, but novels take much longer to write.
You get no guarantee that anything you publish will sell, of course, especially if you’re just starting out, so why bother writing novels until you’ve sold a few short stories?
It’s much easier to learn to write fiction by writing (and selling) short stories. A short story may take you a week to write. A novel can take months.
Short stories are EASY to write
I love writing short stories because you just need a couple of characters, and a situation. As I said in 5 Secrets to Sizzling Short Stories:
You don’t have the space in a short story for a cast of thousands. At most, you have space for two or three main characters. So if you’re writing without an outline, and your characters start multiplying, stop creating characters. Focus on the ones you have.
Your short stories can be 5,000 words, or 10,000 words. I know one writer whose stories sell very well who rarely writes anything longer than 3,000 words. She’s writing erotica; she’s found her niche.
You may not want to write erotica. I don’t either. I’ve ghostwritten it, and have no problems writing it, but I like developing characters, which you can’t really do in erotica.
No short story you write is EVER wasted
Another tip: FINISH your stories.
You can use short stories in many different ways:
- Sell them as ebooks – of course;
- Use them for marketing, as freebies;
- Compile them into bundles. Just your own stories, or get together with a group of writers, and do a group bundle. Everyone gets exposure;
- Publish them on your blog (and then remove them later, when you upload them to Amazon.) Publishing your short stories for free is a wonderful way to promote your fiction. I’ll be doing a lot of this in 2015. You know I love to blog; 🙂
- Sell them to buyers. Last year, I ghosted a collection of short stories for a ghostwriting client. He sold them to someone else. So there’s a market for your short fiction if you want to sell all rights.
There are many other ways you can use short stories; we’re only scratching the surface here. I’ll be writing much more about how to use the short stories you write, because short stories are brilliant. They can do a lot for you.
So, in conclusion, if you want to write short stories, and wonder whether “short stories sell”, wonder no more. Start writing. 🙂
Update: December 22, 2016
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