Can I Make Money Writing Short Stories?
Can You Make Money Writing Short Stories?
There has never been a more superb time, in all of literary history, to make money off of your short stories. With independent e-book publishing, anyone with a little talent, a truckload of ingenuity, and the stubbornness of a donkey can profit from short story writing.
What is a Short Story?
A short story is a low word count literary piece. Within the writing community, the definition of a short story differs, but generally, they are 1,000-40,000 words. However, today, anything over about 10,000 is often classified as a novella. Short stories under 1,000 words are considered flash fiction.
Short stories pack a punch; they are quick and to the point, generally a snip-it in the timeline of a character or a situation. Since they are smaller than a novel, they tend to drive one point, theme or idea, hone.
Why Are Short Stories Popular?
Short stories are short, so they are the perfect form of entertainment for time strapped readers. They can be enjoyed, in their entirety, on the bus home, or on a lunch break. The reader gets a full story in the same time frame as their favorite nightly sitcom.
Short stories are also inexpensive. You can find thousands of them available online for free or just $0.99. With such a small investment, most people don't think twice about buying a story they are interested in, whereas spending $10 on a c-class novel can be disappointing.
Short Stories by Author Jennifer Arnett
The Death of Traditional Printing
Until this recent e-book revolution, selling your short story was a difficult process. It meant sending out hundreds of short stories to literary journals and magazines. Thousands of rejection letters later, you were lucky to sell one $500 story.
Now with Barnes and Noble, Kindle, Kobo, and ibooks, publishing your short story is easier than ever.
Start With Kindle
Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing is easier than you think. You sign in with your Amazon account, fill out some additional tax information, and upload your book to their site. Word documents upload very smoothly, so with very minor formatting, you can be up and running in only a couple of minutes.
Amazon has made it really easy for you to figure out their publishing system by creating a very user friendly way of publishing. There is a cover creator workshop, dozens of pages of "how to" guides, and very easy to understand directions. If you can publish a Hub, you can publish a short story to Kindle.
Depending upon the price of your story and which Kindle Programs you choose, your royalty will be either 35% or 70%. Anything priced over $2.99 gets the 70% royalty, so writing longer short stories, or grouping them together can be a good money making strategy.
If you choose Kindle Select, you can offer your books for free for 5 out of the 90 day program, which can be a great way to gain exposure as a new author. Through the Kindle Unlimited program, readers read your work as part of a subscription based
Flash Fiction from Author Jennifer Arnett
Dean Wesley Smith's Plan
Dean Wesley Smith has created an incredible plan to make a full-time income, writing short stories, in just 6 years, only writing one hour a day. He assumes that if you write for one hour a day, you will produce 50 short stories a year. After 6 years, you will have 300 short stories, all earning you money. His plans assumes that each short story will sell 5 copies a month, across all platforms, and will amass to $40,000 a year by year 6.
It may sound crazy and outlandish, but with that many short stories, finding fans shouldn't be rocket science. If anything, you will be a phenomenal writer by the time you are done.
At the end of the day, those 300 short stories might make you a million bucks, or only enough for a nice streak dinner with your editor, but with that much perseverance, you're bound to have success.
So yes, it is possible to make money off of your short stories, but it will take a little talent, a truckload of endurance, a smidgen of stubbornness, and a whole lot of marketing.
Stephen King on the Short Story
Ways to Make Money Off of Your Short Stories
You might not sell a million copies of your 8 page short story, but that doesn't mean you can't benefit financially from writing them. Short stories are a great way to promote yourself as an author. Giving away a short story and linking to your upcoming novel is the best form of publicity. Once customers on Kindle have purchased your story, even if for free, your other works will likely be recommended to them.
As long as you are not on the Kindle Select program, you can also upload your stories to Kobo, itunes, and Barnes and Noble, for even more exposure.
One idea for making money off of your short story is to write short stories for HubPages. Even though HubPages tends to better reward SEO friendly articles, getting your work put on HubPages exposes your work to other writers, makes you a little money in advertising, and gives you a wonderful platform to promote your work.
One marketing strategy would be to write a 1,000 word short story as a hook, then add links to your other amazon books and short stories. If people like what they read for free, they will be eager to read more of your work, and will be more willing to pay for it.
Do You Read Short Stories
How Much Should I Price My Short Stories?
How much you should price your short stories is a heated topic in the writing world, with several differing opinions.
Dean Wesley Smith, on his blog, recommends never charging less than $2.99 for a short story. If the story is exceptionally short, he recommends bundling two thin short stories together, so that the reader feels like he or she is getting a good deal.
Then there is the $0.99 crowd, who believes that most readers won't pay more than a buck for a new author's work. If you don't have a literary reputation, readers take a gamble when they hit purchase. The other theory behind the $0.99 recommendation, is that readers will impulse buy it--after all it's just a buck.
At the very bottom of the stack is the free crowd, who believes that short stories should be offered for free to lure in customers who will want to pay $4.99 to $9.99 for your novels. If you give away thousands of free stories, it will, over time, build a large readership, and bring in more reviews. Once your stories each have 10-20 reviews, then you can start charging.
As you can see, there is no perfect answer. For myself, I have chosen to offer 1-10 page short stories for $0.99, longer short stories for $1.99, and novels for $4.99 and up. As part of the Kindle Select program, I offer each short story for free for 5 days, which brings in readers who will hopefully share my work, write reviews, and purchase my other stories, if they find them useful.
How Can I Be Successful Making Money Writing Short Stories?
The internet is full of get rich schemes and easy outs, but there is no easy way to the top. I repeat: THERE IS NO EASY WAY TO THE TOP. If it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something, that's at a 1,000 words an hour, 10,000,000 million words you need to write--so get busy!
The Prize Goes to Those Who Persevere
“Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” - Thomas Edison
In all seriousness, it will take years to become a well known author. Sure there are the overnight success stories who show up on Oprah's couch, basking in fame and fortune, but they are one in a million, and not something a young writer should bank on.
From my own experience, and from reading other author's success stories, success starts to show up on your doorstep when you have several hundred hubs, have published 10 books, have 100 blog posts, or are working on their 7th novel. Not only does it take that much writing to become good at the craft, it takes that long to build your platform.
© 2014 Jennifer Arnett