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Self-Publishing: Write Today, Sell Tomorrow, With Short Stories

Self-Publishing: Write Today, Sell Tomorrow, With Short Stories

I love writing short stories because I’m a huge blogging fan. Blogging is instant publishing, and short stories are similar. You can write a short story today, and sell it tomorrow.

By the way, our Kindle Short Fiction Domination program is closing for good in a week. We’ve got upcoming releases, so you receive a special offering on our short story program until April 29.

“Yes, but readers don’t buy short stories in my genre…”

I often receive this response from authors when I suggest that they add short story writing to their self-publishing program. My response to that is always: “you will be surprised.”

Writing and publishing short stories is an efficient way to get more from your self-publishing efforts.

In this article, I suggested some of the ways in which you can use short fiction ebooks:

• They’re an easy way to make the switch to writing fiction;

• Short stories will boost your book sales on Amazon and elsewhere;

• You can build an email list, by offering a short story or two;

• Short fiction increases your visibility so you can build your author platform;

• It’s an easy way to develop a profitable career ghostwriting fiction for clients…

Write short stories fast: focus on scenes

The easiest way to write short stories (and novels, for that matter) is to focus on scenes.

My scenes average at around 1500 words. So for a short story, I aim at three scenes. I may write longer, but three scenes gives me a basic outline for a short story.

For more on writing in scenes, read Write Hot Scenes For Bestselling Fiction: 5 Magical Tips.

The first scene of a short story is the setup: introduce the story question

Your first scene is the setup for your short story: you introduce your characters, the situation, and the story question.

Your story question is the POINT of your novel. We discussed the story question in New Novelist: Write A Selling Novel With One Simple Strategy:

The point of a novel is often referred to as the “story question”, or “dramatic question.” Although the story question might not be stated overtly, it must exist for your novel to be satisfying to readers. In many genres, the genre itself offers insight to the story question:

  •  In mysteries — will the sleuth find the killer?
  • In romances — will the boy get the girl?
  • In thrillers — will the hero save the world?

Your short story’s second scene: a big obstacle or three

You’ve set up your short story. Now it’s time to add an obstacle.

In your mystery, for example, your sleuth is questioning suspects when the killer strikes again…

The climax — all is lost, BUT… your hero comes through in scene three

Your third scene is the climax. In a mystery, your sleuth has made a huge mistake. The killer has turned the tables on the sleuth, who’s facing death.

Here’s a tip for writing short stories: your climax is everything. Set up the climax from the first line of your story.

After the climax, wind up your short story in a few sentences…

And you’re done.

Kindle Short Fiction Domination closes on April 29

We’ve got a lot of upcoming releases, so we’re clearing the decks. You receive a special offering on Kindle Short Fiction Domination until April 29, when the program will close for good. Enjoy.

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Write Fast, Write Well: How To Be Prolific, and Sell – Powerful tips to increase your writing income

Write Fast, Write Well: How To Be Prolific, and Sell – Powerful tips to increase your writing income

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Self-Publishing Disaster: 3 Tips To Rebuild Your Confidence

Self-Publishing Disaster: 3 Tips To Rebuild Your Confidence

You had huge hopes for your latest book but those hopes have faded. Three months after publication, you’ve sold few copies. Whether you’re a self-publishing pro, or a newbie, you’re disappointed.

Let’s unpack your “failure.”

Here’s the reality. Books fail. Indeed, most books fail. Ask any author. Bestselling ebooks/ books (let’s just call them books) are rare. Luck boosts many books to bestsellerdom. Concentrated effort boosts others.

That said, you don’t need to write bestselling novels or nonfiction books to make a nice living as a self-publishing author.

Why self-publishing fails…

While there are any number of reasons you can self-publish a book and winces at its sales, here are some common reasons for failure in fiction:

  • The author didn’t pick a genre at all, or picked an overcrowded genre;
  • Readers can’t find the book: the description is skimpy, and there’s no meta data, so Amazon has no idea where to “file” the book;
  • The book’s cover gives no clear indication of its genre. Readers are confused, and pass the book by;
  • A lack of promotion.

What about nonfiction? Reasons for the failure of a nonfiction book include:

  • An itty bitty audience, or an audience which is well-served with a large number of new books, and the author’s offering doesn’t stand out;
  • As with fiction, above — the readers can’t find the book, because of a lack of attention to meta data;
  • An unappealing cover. A cover needs to grab readers, and make them FEEL something. If you’re selling a diet book, an apple and a tape measure can make for a great cover, depending on the book’s title, and the photography. Or it may not;
  • As above, a lack of promotion.

There may be no clear reason a book fails

Mainstream publishers publish lots of books. Simon & Schuster for example publishes around 2,000 titles each year and most of those titles will lose money. The occasional bestseller helps any publisher to stay in business.

Please be ware of this: publishing houses expect slow sellers and abject failures in the books they publish. Like you, if they had their way, they’d publish only bestsellers. 🙂

You’re a publisher too. Take the attitude that you’ll publish many books. Some will succeed beyond your dreams.

Now let’s look at how to rebuild your confidence.

1. Publish the next book, and the next, while trying to learn from your failure

Yes, keep publishing. It’s amazing how often a “meh” book you don’t particularly like will shock you with great sales. It happens.

While you keep writing, and publishing, if you think you know why a book isn’t selling, fix what you can. BUT: don’t spend too much money on your book’s revamp. A new cover may help. On the other hand, it may not.

Ask other self-publishing authors their opinion on whether spending money will help. It’s best to spend money boosting books which already sell.

2. Always be learning: the self-publishing industry changes rapidly

Many authors who made huge incomes in 2014 have left the industry. When self-publishing changed, they didn’t keep up. Their books stopped selling, because they stopped experimenting and and growing.

Try new things; keep learning and growing.

3. Build your platform on social media: get readers onto your mailing list

Today, with several million ebooks and many, many millions of books widely available, reaching readers who will love your books is more challenging than ever. Make a real effort to build your platform. Social media is essentially free, other than the time it takes. Use social media to grow your mailing list.

Keep self-publishing: your next book may hit the bestseller lists

Someone once said that success doesn’t last, and neither does failure. Who knows? Your “disaster” may be a sleeper title, which suddenly sells hundreds of copies a day.

In the meantime, success or failure, keep publishing. 🙂

Resources to build your writing career

Get daily writing news and tips on the blog’s Facebook page.

Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check our our ebooks for writers.

Writing Success Secrets: How To Conquer Self Doubt, And Achieve Your Writing Goals, Starting Today

Writing Success Secrets: How To Conquer Self Doubt, And Achieve Your Writing Goals, Starting Today

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Genre: Writing
Today, the opportunities for writers have never been greater. Back in the day a writer who was making six-figures a year seemed a creature of myth. These days, highly successful writers are making six figures a month. More info →
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How To Write Fiction When You “Don’t Know How”

How To Write Fiction When You “Don’t Know How”

You want to write fiction, but you don’t know how. That’s OK. No one else knows either, because fiction flows from your imagination. Unlike nonfiction, which is grounded in facts, and depends on logic, your fiction wilts and dies if you try to use the same mind state in writing it that you use for writing nonfiction.

Consider that essentially: fiction is daydreaming and igniting experiences in your readers.

Want to write fiction? Get out of your mind

Children are good at daydreaming. If you listened to your schoolteachers when they said “pay attention” you might think that daydreaming is wrong. However, fiction writers know that they daydream their stories to life.

Big tip: it’s not about the words.

In my fiction writing classes, new fiction writers focus on the words. That’s natural, because you’re getting used to writing. However, as we suggest in step 4, below, there are no perfect words. More to the point, if you focus on the words, your imagination will sit in a corner and sulk.

Your basic fiction writing mindset is: dream first — and start with an emotion.

Here are some simple steps to help you to write fiction when you “don’t know how.”

1. Start with an emotion: emotions trigger memory and images

I like this list of emotions from Byron Katie; download the PDF.

If you’re a newbie fiction writer, try spending five minutes a day feeling emotions.

Here’s an example. Feel apprehensive.

Hard, right? You need a situation. Imagine that your boss asked you to take the company’s biggest client out to dinner. The client made a lewd remark to your wife. You hit him. The police have been called.

How do you feel? Do you feel apprehensive?

Just for a moment, imagine yourself in that scenario. How does it feel to be apprehensive? What thoughts go through your mind?

As an exercise, come up with a little scenario of your own in which someone feels apprehensive.

If you spend five minutes a day on this little exercise, you’ll make your imagination stronger, and that’s a good thing for fiction writers.

2. Grab a person, anyone will do

I talked about my favorite character-creation method in Plot Fiction: Fill-In-The-Blanks Plotting For Pantsers:

All you need to create a basic character is an adjective, combined with a noun. The noun is usually the character’s job. Some examples:

  •  Naive model;
  •  Bedazzled lottery winner;
  •  Hardworking hairdresser;
  •  Jealous chef.

You can come up with any number of these thumbnail “characters” in a minute or two.

Choose an adjective and a noun, and create your character.

Now go back to your list of emotions, and choose one. Let’s say you chose impatient.

Create a little scenario in which your jealous chef (or whoever) feels impatient. Let’s say that the restaurant owner is complaining to the jealous chef that someone left a negative review for the restaurant on a social media website.

Your next step is to keep asking WHY.

3. Keep asking: “why?”

Grab a pen and a sheet of paper, or open a new computer file, and talk to the character you’ve just created. Keep asking him: WHY — you can add “who?” and “how?” too, if you like. 🙂

Write it down, don’t try to do this in your head.

You daydream your fiction, but you also need to write stuff down, otherwise you won’t remember it, sadly. Day dreams are just like night dreams. They can be hugely involving, but the moment they’re over, they start to fade. So get into the habit of dreaming first, then writing what you dreamed.

Keep going, until the story becomes clearer.

Congratulations: you’ve just experienced plotting. Easy, right?

4. Assure yourself that there are no “perfect” words, just emotion

Many authors find that their biggest challenge in writing fiction is getting out of their own way. Avoid thinking too much. Just daydream, and write down the first words which come to you. You can tinker with your words in revision, but not when you’re writing.

When you catch yourself wondering whether “temper” is preferable to “rage” you’ll know that you’ve just jolted yourself out of the fictive dream, in which:

the writer forgets the words he has written on the page and sees, instead, his characters moving around their rooms, hunting through cupboards, glancing irritably through their mail, setting mousetraps, loading pistols. The dream is as alive and compelling as one’s dreams at night, and when the writer writes down on paper what he has imagined, the words, however inadequate, do not distract his mind from the fictive dream but provide him with a fix on it…

(If you get the chance, read John Gardner’s The Art of Fiction: Notes on Craft for Young Writers. It’s a wonderful book.)

You DO know how to write fiction: just day dream, and write down your dreams

That’s pretty much all there is to writing fiction.

You can now write a bestseller and get your revenge on all those teachers who called you a dreamer. Have fun. 🙂

Resources to build your writing career

Get daily writing news and tips on the blog’s Facebook page.

Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check our our ebooks for writers.

Master Fiction Writing: Craft A Novel in 31 Days

Master Fiction Writing: Craft A Novel in 31 Days

$4.99
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Series: Selling Writer Strategies, Book 4
Genre: Writing
Tag: writing fiction
You want to write a novel. Perhaps you can't get started. Or maybe you got started, and then you stopped.You need a plan, broken down into easy steps. This program began as a 30-day challenge which I organized for readers in 2010. Hundreds of writers joined the challenge and completed it. They wrote novels. More info →