It can take a long time to crank out an eighty thousand word novel. Your chosen path to publication can increase that time significantly. Then you’re supposed trade some of your precious writing time to create your author presence. But if it’s your first novel, how to you create that presence?
Have you considered writing short stories? I can hear the gasps now. We’re supposed to sacrifice more novel writing time to pen short stories? Why would we do that? Because, published is published. It doesn’t matter if it’s only a short story. If you are accepted and printed online or on paper, you are a published author.
In an industry where you need a publishing credit to get published, writing short stories goes a long way toward getting your foot in the traditional publishing door. But it can be more than a line on your CV. Short stories can help get you that all important paid publishing credit.
Yes, there’s a market here, readers are craving short stories, especially serial stories with multiple instalments. The digital age has created a new interest in short, sharp fiction, as the internet generation looks for “snackable”, entertaining content to help pass the time while waiting for busses, in doctors waiting rooms or while sitting in the stands waiting for their child’s dance class to end.
Build Your Name and Brand
Smartphones and tablets have changed the way we consume content. So has blogging. If you want to get your name in front of an eager audience, write briefly and consistently and you should soon develop a fan base.
In addition to your blog or site, there are prominent short story sharing sites. Wattpad allows all users to upload their stories and for others to read them for free. Readwave shares “3-minute stories” written by users. Both sites can get you noticed quickly.
If you ever do decide to try to work with a traditional publisher, they will ask about your marketing ideas. I know writers who’ve lost their first book deal because they didn’t have a large enough following. A built-in fan base could be just what you need to tip the scales in your favor if you want to sell your novel.
Get Paid Directly
You can publish your work on Amazon through the Kindle Singles program and get paid for your work regularly. Amazon also offers a Short Reads section in which customers can choose content by genre and word count/time it takes to read. They’ve also created Day One Magazine to showcase short fiction from new authors. Tell your growing fan base your work is on sale and you could be one of Amazon’s top writers in no time.
Anthologies Have Become Popular
The Chicken Soup for the Soul series of books confused publishers at first, but now it is a tried-and-tested business model. Anthologies are easy to create, and can get your name noticed – especially if there are some top writers in your genre contributing. In many cases you can gain a great deal of prestige. Check out Writer’s Digest and Writer’s Relief to find requests for submissions.
Contests Build Your Credibility and Your Bank Account
Not only can contests gain you recognition, they can also be profitable. Some short story contests have a hefty prize attached to them. Entering contests with cash prizes are a great way to earn a bit of money as an author, provided the entry fees are not too high and the contest is a reputable one. Cash prizes aren’t the only benefit, however. There are other factors an author should consider. Who are the contest judges? Often agents and editors act as final judges. If it’s an agent or editor high on your wish list, a contest entry might just be the way to get your writing noticed. Even if the judge is someone you’ve never heard of, winning a prize in a well-known contest can help establish your credibility as a professional writer.
Short Stories Are Quick, Easy and Fun
You’ve finished your first draft of your novel. Yay! So you set it aside long enough to get a bit of distance so you can go back to it with fresh eyes. In the meantime, working on a shorter project can help keep you honing your craft. If you’re suffering from writer’s block on your novel, a contest with a stimulating topic just might be the distraction you need. Novels have a long payoff. Sometimes we need that sense of accomplishment that we’ve finished something, and writing short fiction can provide that. It’s a fun way to take a break from the pressure of writing your novel.
When it comes down to it, whether it’s a full length novel or a short story, anything you publish is going to play a factor in building your brand, your credibility and your following. Your author list at Amazon will grow, and with it, your visibility as a writer worth paying attention to.