I’ve written about using short stories for marketing before, but since “can I really sell short stories?” is a question which keeps coming up, here are three more tips which will help. They may inspire you to make the most of short fiction; few authors do, so there’s a real opportunity here.
Something to keep in mind too — short stories help you to take advantage of the holidays to sell fiction. Christmas stories always sell. Consider that you can write a short story in a few hours, so short fiction is an excellent way to boost your sales.
In addition to Christmas, other holidays, like Halloween (spooky stories) and St. Valentine’s Day (romances) offer wonderful opportunities for you to sell more books.
Short stores are short: focus on the emotion
The big reason I love short stories is that you’ll learn things which you can apply to all your fiction. Such as:
- Emotion is everything: deliver an experience;
- Stop explaining, it weakens the story;
- Tighten up: choose one word rather than ten.
“One word rather than ten” is a challenge for me. I tend to wordiness.
Here are the tips.
1. Use short stories to preview your current novel in progress
“I want to write faster…” There’s a trend at the moment with authors complaining about how slowly they write. The other side of the coin is authors bragging that they finished their novel in a week.
If you’re a slow writer, that’s perfectly fine. You write the way you write a particular novel. You may write your next novel in ten days, it doesn’t matter.
Short stories give you a simple and easy way to boost the sales of all your fiction. If you’re in the slow writer camp, consider writing a couple of stories to prequel your novel. Not only will that prime readers to expect your novel, they can pre-order it if you’re offering pre-orders.
2. Use short stories to test a new genre
I’m a ghostwriter. Occasionally someone will offer me money to write something in a genre that’s completely new to me. Unless I have an instinctive reaction like — no way, not with a gun to my head — I ask the client to give me a chance to test whether I can write in that genre.
If I find that I don’t like reading in the genre, and can’t come up with a mile of ideas after reading a couple of books, my investigation stops.
On the other hand, if I enjoy the genre, I try writing a short story of around 10,000 words. I can do that in a couple of days, and I’ll know whether I want to accept the ghostwriting commission.
3. Write short stories for collaboration marketing with other authors
Bundles of short stories sell well in various fiction genres, as well as in sub-genres of major categories like romance.
Recently on Facebook, groups for author marketing collaborations with bundles have seen an uptick in members. I haven’t researched, but I imagine that if these groups are popular, there are assuredly others on Facebook, as well as on venues like forums and LinkedIn.
When you join a group, you’ll hear about bundles which are calling for submissions, and you can send off a story for inclusion.
Although I haven’t joined any of these groups yet, I’ve got it on my task list. Come October, I start writing Christmas short stories, for my pen names, as well as for clients.
Several authors I respect have told me that joining other authors in a bundle of short stories has worked well for them. They’ve gained subscribers, traffic, and sales.
How many ways could you use short stories in your self-publishing venture?
I hope I’ve inspired you to think of short stories as useful, and if you haven’t tried writing a story or two — write one today. 🙂
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