Wondering about writing short stories? I often recommend short fiction to new authors, but established authors can benefit too. Amazon even has an entire category devoted to short ebooks—more on that in a moment.
A few days back, an author told me: “Yes, but bestselling authors don’t publish very short books!”
Well… Many bestselling authors know the value of short fiction. Currently Dean Koontz’s short stores are dominating the category, as you can see in the image below. (I took the screen grab on February 29, 2020.)
Bestselling authors have agents and publishing houses to support, so they won’t do anything that doesn’t have income-generating potential. If writing short stories is good enough for them, we much more humble mortals might consider publishing them too.
Short stories: consider adding them to your self-publishing plans
- They sell. (Viz Dean Koontz.) Readers love them. Everyone’s pressed for time these days, and short stories deliver a reader’s favorite form of entertainment fast.
- You can charge as much for short stories as you can for many indie novels.
- Short stories are the savvy author’s strategy for book marketing: every story you write is a gateway to your fiction. Write a short story, publish it, and you’ve just created something that will keep on marketing for you as long as you keep the ebook online.
- Short stories are quick to write. You can write a short story on a lazy Sunday afternoon and publish it on Monday.
Let’s look at some tips to help you to sell your short stories.
1. Be aware of Amazon’s Short Reads categories
When authors ask me about short story length, I refer them to Amazon’s Short Reads categories, where short ebooks are categorized by the time it takes to read them.
Short Reads can be very short: 15 minutes (1-11 pages), for example. Please be aware that you can’t add your short stories to the Short Reads categories yourself when you publish your ebooks. Amazon adds them to these Amazon-only categories automatically.
I suggest that you keep your short fiction at over 2,500 words. You’re less likely to get comments from Amazon — and readers — if you do this.
If you’re concerned that readers might complain if they expect a novel, try this:
- Add “short story” to your book’s title;
- Add “short story” to the book’s description as well;
- Promote your short fiction as short fiction: it’s essential that readers know what they’re buying.
2. Publish, enroll and done: add your short stories to KDP Select (and leave them alone to generate income for you)
I’ve seen authors have the most success when they add short stories to KDP Select. This means that your stories are free to Kindle Unlimited (KU) subscribers; you can do well with Pages Read.
Plus, tossing short stories into KDP Select is easy promotion for all your fiction.
Other marketing strategies:
- Before you publish a short story, offer it free to your blog’s readers for a limited time. If you offer a “free short story a month” or whatever schedule you choose, it gives you a boost in readers — and sales to your other fiction;
- Offer a free short story to people who subscribe to your mailing list;
- Surprise your mailing list readers with the occasional exclusive-to-subscribers short story.
3. Please SELL your short stories (don’t give them away)
A suggestion: begin at $1.99 and up. The 0.99 cent price point is worse than useless.
(Your short stories are available to KU subscribers for free if you enroll in KDP Select.)
You can create bundles of short stories too. Price those at $7.99; this price point means that you can afford paid promotions.
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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.