For many self-published authors, writing short fiction is a viable option. Some are killing it with short fiction, others are struggling. There’s certainly a market for it, but it is smaller than full-length fiction. Today I have short story writer Elle Chambers to share her thoughts on short story writing and her experiences with it in the horror genre. As always, your results may vary. Short fiction performs differently genre to genre.
Without further ado, I give you Elle Chambers:
Hello, dear readers of this fine blog. Today I will be speaking about something close to my heart: self-publishing. More specifically: self-publishing short fiction.
If you are a short story writer and are considering going it alone in this ever-changing marketplace, please do not let anyone tell you it can’t be done. There are many short story writers who are making a killing at this indie publishing thing.
I am not one of them.
Sorry, but if you were under the impression that I was going to be imparting grand wisdom today on how to sell a boatload of shorts on Amazon, you were sadly mistaken. But if you happen to come across that information, feel free to slide into my DM with said advice.
You see, folks – I’m one of those short story writers who can’t seem to get out of her own way. Translation: I write in a niche market that barely exists (horror-ish or strange fiction or pulp – I can never really tell myself), I’m not Stephen King so I can’t make that work to my advantage, and I’m slow as all hell.
Not in the drooling-down-the-front-of-my-shirt-and-eating-my-own-hair kind of way, but in the come-home-from-work-and-watch-endless-Sons-of-Anarchy-reruns-instead-of-writing kind of way.
Short story writers outside of erotica can struggle with making a living at this self-publishing game. It’s hard to compete against novels for attention, book promo sites usually don’t allow you to advertise with them* (even if you’re willing to pay their outrageous prices for a ten page book! Seriously – who doesn’t want money?!), and shorts are usually priced lower than full-length novels.
But as I said before – there are short story writers who are managing to survive out in this publishing jungle and, the ones who do, do the following:
- Write in a genre that sells (or at least one that’s somewhat visible)
- If they don’t write in a popular genre, they pick an underserved niche or subgenre that’s hungry for content
- They write and publish consistently
The latter is key. There are, like, a million books published a day (okay, so I’m exaggerating for effect here – and also because I’m too lazy to go look up the exact stat) – if you want the Magical Amazonian Algorithms of Wealth and Fame to work for you, you have to release new material at a staggering pace. If you’re not consistent, you become invisible. I know. The only thing I seem to be “consistent” at is being consistently invisible due to non-consistency.
To illustrate this point, let’s take a look at my publishing history. Go ahead, dear readers. Go to Amazon or Barnes & Noble (the latter being the more reliable of the two – damn ‘Zon’s wonky KDP platform) and look at my ebook publishing dates. My first micro short story collection, Dark Tales: eVolume One, was released in September of 2013. The follow-up, Dark Tales: eVolume Two, was released Halloween 2013. Then my not-quite zombie novella, Good Eats, was released in December of 2013 – my next serious release, Grindhouse, did not come out until December 31, 2014.
A whole year went by with nary a peep from me. Do you think those people who downloaded my earlier work still remember I exist?
Look at the Grindhouse sales rank for your answer.
My audience moved on. Whatever little momentum I’d amassed early in 2014 – and I had it, I did – quickly dissipated because I didn’t put myself in people’s faces every five seconds. So now it’s like I’m a brand new author all over again, trying to claw my way up from the bottom of the barrel and into America’s hearts. (Okay, maybe just their wallets, but same diff.) It would almost be depressing if I had human emotions.
Kidding aside, if you are a short story writer and you’re relying on this self-publishing thing to make a living (I have a day job that I love that I have no intention of leaving anytime soon that also pays me pretty damn well, but I realize that’s not the case for everyone), follow the steps of the successful writers I noted above. You may or may not make decent money at this, I don’t know. I don’t know the skill level of the writers reading this or whether or not you write stories people actually want to read (I don’t, so don’t feel bad if you don’t either – come sit at the reject table with me. We’ll have a good time.) – oh yes, these things matter too.
But assuming that you write like Faulkner, or whoever your benchmark for greatness is, and you tell stories that people can’t seem to put down, if you emulate what the successful writers of any length of fiction do, and you do it consistently, you should be able to make a real go of this thing.
And when you do, dear readers, please, buy a few copies of my books.
/Shameless plug. 🙂
*There are a few promo sites that will let you advertise with them, one being eBookSoda and the other SciFiFantasyFreak.com, it’s just that the majority of these sites cater to full-length fiction.
Elle’s latest release is Grindhouse:
Warning: This triple feature contains graphic violence, strong language, sexual content, and extreme bloodshed. This is not for the mild-mannered or easily offended. If you have any emotional triggers that can cause severe mental disturbance – Grindhouse is not for you. All others – read at your own risk.
Grindhouse is a short story collection featuring three disturbing tales:
“Little Girl, I Want To Murder You”: A young paralegal, on the way to the interview of her life, takes the cab ride from hell.
“Deviltown”: A pre-op trans hooker, looking to perform her last great trick, is in for a treat when she goes home with a stranger.
and “The Beautiful People”: High school is hell for awkward teenage girls. And payback is a bitch for the ones who’ve done wrong.
Grindhouse is available at the following retailers:
Connect with Elle online at her publisher’s website, Indie Spirit Press (http://www.indiespiritpress.com).