I receive lots of questions about writing short stories. Writers often find that writing a short story convinces them that they can write salable fiction.
For me, the biggest benefit of short stories is that you can grow them into novels without much difficulty.
You can expand short stories into novels
My favorite way to get more mileage from a short story is to develop it further, into a novel. I’m so fond of this strategy that I need to rein myself in. A ghostwriting client is far from pleased when I tell him that — oops, sorry, your short story grew on me. It’s on the way to becoming a novel. Please bear with me while I write something else for you… 🙂
As I suggested in From Writing Short Stories to Writing Novels: 3 Simple Tips, the primary difference between a short story and a novel is that a novel has more characters than a short story, and more depth to the characters.
Let’s look at other profitable ways to use short stories.
1. Short stories are the perfect introduction to your other fiction
On several of the online groups of which I’m a member, authors are complaining about their sales. Nothing new in that. It can be discomfiting when your Page Reads in KDP Select go down, or when your books stop selling, no matter how much advertising you do.
Here’s my suggestion if you find that your self-publishing income is dropping: write short stories.
Short stories make wonderful content for promotion, and you can write a short story in an afternoon.
Before you publish a short story, offer it free to your blog’s readers for a limited time. If you offer a “free short story a month” or whatever schedule you choose, it gives you a boost in readers — and increases sales of your other fiction. Important: REMOVE your short stories from your blog before you offer them in Select as an Amazon exclusive, otherwise you’ll annoy Amazon.
2. Short stories are fun part-time projects
We’re all busy. You may not have time to write a novel: write short stories instead.
A friend writes short stories in her “spare” time — the time she spends ferrying her three children around to their various activities. She sits in her car, and taps her latest story into her tablet. She reports that she’s managed to turn this time which she previously wasted into a real boost for her self-publishing career.
She publishes her stories on her blog, then when she has enough for a collection, she publishes them as ebooks (after removing them from the blog) in KDP Select. Some months her KENP Pages Read income is better than her sales.
3. You can bundle your short stories into books — your own, and others’
You can publish your short stories as ebooks individually; you can also publish them in collections — bundles.
Authors experience a boost in sales when they collaborate on bundles. Because the price of a bundled collection is low, their direct income from having a story in a bundle is low, or non-existent. However, with each author promoting the bundle to his audience, it extends authors’ readership — and builds sales.
4. Need cash? Visit the freelance marketplaces and bid on short story projects
Publishers are always looking for ghostwriters. If you enjoy writing short stories, you can write them for cash. Visit the freelance marketplaces. You’ll often find projects asking for short stories in various genres, particularly in romance.
Changing genres? Write short stories
My own favorite use for short stories is to use them as my own little focus groups. If I’m thinking of writing in a genre for a ghostwriting client, I write a short story first. No sales? That shows that that genre isn’t for me. It may be at some time in the future, but not right now.
Have fun writing short stories; they may add to your income, painlessly.
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