Monday, January 2, 2012

Short Stories -- Do they have stand-alone market appeal?

I would say this is an important question for any short story writer who has ventured into, or is thinking about joining the self-publishing realm. I truly enjoy the short story format and the challenging aspect of writing a three-to-five thousand word fictional tale in which I am trying to fill with many of the same elements that exist within a full length novel. However, the question still remains whether there is a market for these pint-sized reading gems.

I presented this same question to the wonderful crew over at the Writer’s Cafe, a community forum for authors located within the Kindle Boards. It seems there is indeed a market for the short story writer, although not colossal, but it does exist and is steady.

Let me say there is no secret formula to a successful writing career. You can ask any thriving self-published author and they will all tell you it takes a considerable amount of hard work and a lot of trial and error tactics to succeed, and even then, there are no guarantees. So keep in mind that one method might work for some, but may never work for others.

So in what creative and marketable manner does a short story author present his/her work? Which method will be better received by the readers? The collective opinion throughout the Café seemed to be for writers to offer their shorts as both singles and in bundles. I would have to agree with this method. This technique gives more flexibility with purchasing options and relieves any hesitancy from individuals who dislike buying singles, or who also do not want to feel suckered into buying a collection of poorly written stories. Although, when offering as singles, it is a good idea to specify in the story’s description that it is a short story. This prevents your buyers from feeling cheated and/or tricked into thinking they were buying a full-length novel. Also, if you are going to bundle those same singles, it is a good idea to specify that the stories are also available in a collection as well. If you are opting to bundle any of your shorts, it’s generally a good idea to bundle the ones that are closely related in genre.

Again, this seems to be the general consensus in the Writer’s Café. Will this method bring you success as a writer? I have no idea, but it is definitely another option to consider. I plan on exercising this method very soon with a short story collection of my own. Will it be well received? Only time will tell.

There is no doubt short story writers want the same respect and appreciation that the novelists receive. However, the reality is the novelist and short story writer are in two very different markets, which is something we sometimes forget. Regardless if the short story writer may appear a little further down the pole of writing prestige, and the short story itself may appear unmarketable, one must always stand behind and believe in his/her work.

The short story writer must continue with his/her storytelling pursuit and never be deterred with seemingly poor sales or lack of marketability. Keep mesmerizing your readers, and hopefully the market will find you.


  1. I sure hope it works! I'm working on a short story anthology right now, with intent to also offer some as epubs individually.

  2. I hope it works as well. The short story market is a tricky little rascal which consumes a lot of time, determination, and requires a great deal of patience. That's for certain!