Self-publishing is becoming a lot more challenging. Things are changing quickly, and you need to change too, especially if you’re not having the success you want. Even if you’re thrilled with your sales, keep in mind that self-publishing changes quickly.
Our new self-publishing environment in 2017
Authors who have been self-publishing for years realize that today, self-publishing is mainstream.
In 2015, The Passive Voice published several posts on indie authors quitting their day jobs; they were the most commented-on posts in the history of the blog. Many thousands of authors revealed that they went full-time in 2015.
However in 2016, things got a lot tougher. Not only did Amazon tighten its spam-fighting algorithms, some authors found that their ebook sales were dropping off a cliff. I wrote blog posts on both those things…
More on Amazon tackling spammers here.
More on ebook sales’ slumps here.
One of the decisions I made for my own self-publishing plans this year was to publish shorter ebooks in addition to the novels I have planned. Short stories, and short nonfiction, can definitely help the sales of your longer ebooks.
Let’s look at the tips.
1. Use short stories as a valuable form of painless marketing
Sometimes when I suggest to an author that he publish some short stories, the response is: Yes, but short stories don’t sell. I’d take issue with that, because many authors are making a lot of money from short stories. In some cases, they’re making more money from a 5,000 word short story than they’re making from an 100,000 word novel.
Readers don’t care how long or short your story is, they just want a GOOD story.
In My Top 6 Tips for Self-publishing Fiction In 2017, I suggested:
Here’s the thing about self-publishing: your ebooks can be as long, or as short as you please. Strictly from a money angle, if you can get $2.99 for a 10,000 word short story, OR a 60,000 word novel, it makes sense to write more short stories.
When you write short stories, not only do you build your visibility, you also improve your fiction writing skills.
Short stories are brilliant for increasing your visibility on the ebook retailers. When you’re on Amazon’s Just Released lists, you’ll make sales of your other ebooks too.
2. Reward your fans’ loyalty: send them your short stories, then publish them
Your readers are GOLD. Treat them well.
Show your mailing list subscribers that they’re part of an exclusive club. When you’ve completed a short story, send it out to the fans on your mailing list first. A week or two later, you can publish the story on Amazon.
Several authors make their short stories available on their blogs for a week or two, and then they publish the stories.
Anything you can do to reward your fans is worth doing.
3. Create serials: use cliffhangers to get more readers
Some authors HATE cliffhangers and they refuse to use them. However, publishing short stories as a continuing story — as a serial — works. Just be sure that your short story is a real story, with a climax and resolution, otherwise you’ll annoy readers.
As I said in Kindle Publishing: Serialized Fiction Strategies:
Your challenge with serial fiction is to make each episode in the story satisfying. Yes, you want readers to read the whole thing. However, each episode has to deliver entertainment and value. So each episode has a throughline, with a setup, action, and climax.
Also, most importantly, add “A Short Story” both to the title, and to the description of your short fiction, so that readers know what they’re getting.
Add a few short stories to your own self-publishing plans for this year
I enjoy writing short stories; I like instant gratification. 🙂
You never know, you may find as I do that you sell more of your novels when you include short stories in your publishing plans.
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