Before we dive into the main body of this article on how to sell short stories online, it first pays to understand the difference between selling and publishing.
If publishing is the main goal behind your creative process, there are countless outlets where you can publish your own creations. And share them with friends and online communities at your leisure.
If selling your short stories is the goal, you need to think bigger about the kind of outlets that will publish and share your story. A large audience is what you should be aiming for, so you can maximise profit.
For the purpose of this article, we will briefly discuss publishing with a focus on ultimately selling short stories online – discussing where to get your short stories published in exchange for a single fee or ongoing sales.
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Where can I Publish Short Stories Online?
You can publish short stories online in a multitude of ways. The first and most obvious is to publish your story (either on its own or as a collection of short stories) through a traditional retail website like Amazon or any other online retailer.
Thanks to the rise in available technology and the increased popularity of e-books and audiobooks, for authors it’s never been a better time to get your writing seen by hundreds, if not thousands or millions of people. You can list short stories online at a very low initial startup cost with the potential for huge growth.
One of the most popular self-published authors is Erika Mitchell. Do you recognise her name? Not many people do because she also uses the alias of E.L James – Otherwise known as the author of the trilogy ‘50 Shades of Grey‘.
Although Erika Leonard isn’t known for writing short stories, she did start as a self-published author and according to Celebrity Net Worth, ‘Erika Leonard has an astonishing net worth of $150 million dollars! That’s not a bad valuation for somebody who started producing print-on-demand books along with ebooks as a self-published fan fiction author.
Some of the main outlets that fall under the method of self-publishing and getting your work out there include:
Another main method of publishing short stories online is through established online publications, such as magazines, news sites and blogs. Medium is an excellent platform, with an existing reader base that anyone can tap into for free. There is a strong niche community on medium. Readers can follow your work and leave feedback. You can also opt in to monetise what you write.
Why is it important to edit and proofread your writing?
Editing and proofreading are essential parts of the writing process. A typo or grammar mistake can make us appear less intelligent and lose our creditability resulting in fewer job opportunities. Poor spelling can also create confusion and disrupt the flow of the story.
How Can You Sell Short Stories Online?
The first step is finding your niche and creating a short story that other people will want to read. A short story doesn’t have to be fiction, it could be a true story from your own life, somebody else’s, or something more factual. Either way, it should be written for the target audience, and address subjects and questions that they are interested in.
Once you have your story, it’s time to find a suitable sales outlet. Decide if you want to sell short stories online to a single outlet for them to publish exclusively. Or publish it yourself, selling to individuals for passive and ongoing income.
How can I sell my short story to an online publisher?
If you have an online publisher in mind that you would like to write for, one option is to purposely create a short story for that particular publisher, while knowing it will add value to what currently exists.
When pitching, have confidence in what you have created and believe in yourself. Confidence sells. This option can work out well, resulting in new connections being made, and the possibility of future work.
Authors should note that when writing for others rather than themselves, changes are likely to be made to your story. In fact, the story may not be your story anymore. The Publisher may want a certain tone of voice so the content you write, will be more applicable to their reader base.
Not everyone feels comfortable becoming a ghostwriter, or with organisations changing everything from what you had originally written. I think of this as trading time for money, nothing more and nothing less.
Is marketing important when selling short stories online?
Devising a marketing plan is very important when you want to sell short stories online. With good marketing, you can draw attention to your story, and guide the right readers towards it.
When publishing your short story to be sold to individual buyers, you will need marketing campaigns. Be active on all social media platforms and take on interviews and write guest posts on blogs and magazines. Putting yourself in the spotlight as an advocate for short stories within a certain niche is something you must be very involved with.
Depending on who publishes your short story; you may benefit from an existing reader base, established name and a marketing budget.
Once you start reaping the rewards – it’s time to start writing the next short story! Next time you will know what to do, and how best to get your short story off the ground running in the quickest possible time.
Selling your short stories online can be achieved through a series of different outlets. The internet is full of platforms where you can publish work, and get your short story under the right noses.
As well as the more traditional online news sites, magazines and blogs; research niche publications that fall into the genre of your story. Make contact with editors and publication houses to see if they would be willing to buy or publish your work.
If you decide to publish your short story and get it out there, on retail sites such as Amazon and outlets such as Kindle. Time is the best investment. Make sure that you put plenty of time into creating a compelling and enticing blurb and cover. As well as investing time into marketing. Marketing attracts attention and gets readers hooked on the concept of your short storybook.
Finally, the publishing world of short storytelling can be tough to crack, so if you don’t see returns right away don’t panic and don’t give up. Like everything in life, trial, error, and experimentation will eventually lead to success. Should short stories not be your thing, maybe a podcast is!