When a novelist’s struggling, I suggest writing a couple of short stories. They clear your mind. You’ll often return to a current project with a fresh perspective.
You can publish stories quickly. A story may give you the boost of confidence you need. They can ignite your self-publishing program too, especially if you’re writing in different genres—it can be hard to keep up with your pen names if you have several.
Readers enjoy snackable fiction: a quick hit of entertainment.
But new authors have questions.
Favorite questions writers ask
The most popular question is: How long is a “short” story?
Other favorite questions about shorties:
- Can you sell them?
- How do you sell them?
- How long does it take to write one?
- Can you give me examples? An outline?
- What genres work?
1. Length: how short?
The simple answer is: as long as you like. You’re the author.
Here are some typical lengths for short fiction:
- Under 1,000 words: considered flash or micro fiction.
- Over 15,000 but under 40,000: usually considered novellas.
- Over 40,000: novels.
2. Sales: who buys them?
Various markets exist. However, beware of literary magazines; they frequently don’t pay. If you find a market which wants them, ask whether they pay before you submit.
My suggestion: publish as you typically do. You can enrol them in Kindle Select if you like. The benefit of treating shorties as you do other books is that you can bundle them up, and sell the collection too.
3. How long does it take to write one?
Anywhere from an hour to several hours. Or longer, of course, if you’re writing 10,000 words. Most of my stories are under 5,000 words.
4. Can you give me examples? An outline?
Sure. Here’s the usual outline I use for fiction. With a shortie, I restrict myself to a maximum of five scenes; that’s more than sufficient.
With that in mind, I write a quick concept (blurb.)
A concept saves time when you’re writing anything, short or long form; it stops you wandering off on tangents, if you’re anything like me.
Next, I’ll sketch out the biggest scene, and then start writing.
5. What genres work?
All the popular genres: romance, mysteries and thrillers, fantasy and science fiction.
If you’re uncertain about a genre, try a shortie or two to see if you like it—you may not. When I coached a novelist, she wanted to get into domestic thrillers. Although she enjoyed reading them, she decided she didn’t like writing them.
My best tips for short fiction: have FUN with them (and remember the holidays)
Short fiction is fun. If you’re the kind of writer who’s distracted by new ideas, or you’re slogging through the weeds of a novel, write a short story.
My best tips:
- Experiment. Try new things. You may discover a fresh voice you didn’t know you had. 🥰
- Remember the holidays—write and publish. Readers will discover you and your publishing catalogue. Examples: Halloween (ghosts); Christmas (warmth); Valentine’s Day (hearts and flowers)—these occasions are prime times to give your readers hits of entertainment.
- Keep your ideas. You’ll often be able to combine them to create magic.
- Consider ghostwriting fiction.
- Think a story (or character) will make a good novel? Great. You’ve got a head start on the project.
- Take plenty of photos when you’re out and about, especially on vacation. (You’ll be amazed at the ideas you get when you’re back home; photos help.)
- Read. Here’s a list of wonderful stories.
If you’ve got other questions, feel free to get in touch and ask. 🤗
Did you know that fiction outsells non-fiction by 6 to 1 on the Kindle store? Even if you’ve never written fiction before, you can still make sales with our new program.
Quick Fiction Fix: Write A Short Story Today, Sell It Tomorrow is full of practical insights and strategies. You’ll write a short story, create a cover, and publish it on Amazon and other ebook retailers fast. Itty bitty shorties can be your key to a successful self-publishing career.
Copywriter and marketing pro Angela Booth maintains a busy copywriting and ghostwriting practice. Fascinated by online marketing, she wrote one of the first business books for internet marketing, published by Allen & Unwin. She’s been an enthusiastic blogger since the late 1990s.