Want to Sell Short Stories? Here’s Your Five-Point Plan.
Some people are overwriters. They sit down to write a short story, and before they know it, boom, they’re working on another novel idea.
Some people even publish a novel once a month.
I am not an overwriter. In fact, I struggle to build a coherent plot over 10,000 words (I don’t know why, but if you have the answer, please tell me.)
I am a short story writer, for better or worse. Most people would say worse, because they think short story writing is a dead end. And while it’s true that it’s harder to make money with them, and that anthologies and short story collections don’t sell as well, it’s not impossible to make it work — if you do it right.
If you want to actually sell short stories, and make a bit of money doing it, here’s how.
1. Write a lot of stories.
I’m afraid there’s no other way around this one.
You have to write, and write lots. Or, if you’ve been writing short stories for a long time, go back through and edit the ones you’ve already written, and finish the ones you’ve started.
How to write short stories is outside the scope of this post — though I might visit it in future. If you want to have some success doing this, you need a shiny stack of stories to send out — at least 10, I would say. So get to it.
2. Organise your stories.
If you go running into the flames, screaming, without a plan… things are unlikely to go well for you.
You’ll be juggling dozens of stories, you’ll be sending each one to multiple publications, and you’ll be making sure you don’t send the same one to the same place twice. It’s extremely hard to keep track of that without any organisation.
So start a spreadsheet.
Keep your stories here. Fill out their titles, genres, word counts, completion status, and, crucially, which places you’ve submitted them to, and whether they’ve been accepted or rejected.
And keep this up to date. I know how easy it is to let it slip. The last thing you want to do when you receive your 351st rejection letter is file it on a spreadsheet, but trust me…