You want to write Kindle short stories. There are many reasons this is an excellent plan. However, information abounds on the Web, and everyone has an opinion. If you pay too much attention to opinions, you can be led down some strange pathways. Over the past week, I’ve been working with some students who’ve managed to latch onto some odd ideas. They’re myths.
Here they are:
- Short stories don’t sell. Readers want novels;
- You need a super-duper cover illustration for your short story, and if you’re going to pay big money for a cover, you might as well write a novel;
- You need to pay for editing on a short story.
Let’s dispel these myths.
1. Short Stories Don’t Sell. Readers Want Novels
Short stories sell in many genres: romance (especially erotica), mysteries, science fiction. These are the genres which spring to mind. I’m sure there are more. Readers enjoy short stories because they’re short. They can read a story on the train, before bed, and anytime they have a few minutes to spare.
That said, you need to let people know what they’re buying. If someone’s bought your short story, and expects a novel, they’ll be miffed. Add the words “a short story” to your title. Add it to your description as well. AND add it to the front matter, so that when a reader samples your ebook, they’ll see “a short story” there as well.
Pay Attention, This Is IMPORTANT: You Need Volume. One Short Story Won’t Make You Rich and Famous
When you ask someone who proclaims that “short stories don’t sell” how many short stories they’ve published, the answer is usually two, or three. I haven’t done a study on it, but anecdotally, you need at least 30 short stories before you’ll see significant sales. It goes without saying that you’ve written the best short stories of which you’re capable.
2. You Need a Super-Duper Cover Illustration for Your Short Story
Cover-mania’s a pet peeve of mine. What sells is the BOOK, not the cover. As David Ogilvy, the master of advertising said; “What really decides consumers to buy or not to buy is the content of your advertising, not its form.” Extrapolating that to books, what counts is what’s in the book. In other words, if you put lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig. A $1,000 cover won’t help a book if the content isn’t worth reading.
I often work with big publishers. If a book doesn’t sell, no publisher says: “Oh no, we need another cover.” They say: “The author’s a dud, that’s the last time we publish one of his books.”
I’ve no idea why “most people” think the cover is all-important. That said, if the cover is totally hopeless, it won’t help. So use Kindle Cover Creator for your short stories. It’s free, and it does the job. (It’s available when you upload your story to Amazon.)
My own theory about why people carry on about covers is this — it’s easy. If someone’s complaining that their story’s not selling it’s just easier to tell someone that they need a better cover, especially if you haven’t read their novel or short story.
3. You Need to Pay for Editing on a Short Story
The first time someone told me this, I said: “You’re kidding, right?” My own rule of thumb is: if I can read it in under 30 minutes, I do the editing myself.
Professional editing is vital for a novel. You’re too close to it. You think you’ve closed open loops, and that your characters are acting logically, but… You need others to read your novel, and help you to shape the story.
If you want to pay for editing on a short story, go ahead.
You can and should do it yourself, however. Here’s why you should: you need the experience. It will make you a better writer. By all means, get some beta readers, but professional editing for a short story? Only if you’re going to compile a bunch of them into a book.
So, there you have it. Three myths around Kindle short stories. I’m sure there are more, these are just the most common.
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March 16, 2018
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