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Friday, August 22, 2008

Killer Campaigns: Short Stories

Short stories are a good way to keep your name in circulation and expand your fan base. Not only will it give readers a taste of your writing style, but the venues for shorts generally have a different audience from novels.

Short stories can be found in magazines, ezines and anthologies. There was a market once where they used to use really short stories on the back of their coffee cans. Sadly, that market went away, but I mention it because you never know where a short story might appear. Always keep your options open.

Not everyone is cut out to be a short story writer. I've found short stories take different chops than writing novels. But if you can pull it off, it's a great way to net new readers.

I've come up with a few notes to bear in mind if you use short stories as a way to promote yourself.

• stay close to your novel's genre. For me, there are a couple of problems with this. Most of my short stories (all 3 of them) are all SF (no romance). My novel is a romance set in the future. So to best capitalize potential readers for my romance novel, I should be writing romance short stories. You want to reach readers for your specific genre. Like seeks like.

• look for paying markets, but don't shun the non paying ones. I know. I know. I always preach about getting paid, but in this instance you are looking for new readers. New readers are more important than money. The other nice thing about non paying gigs is that they usually offer a more substantial byline.

• investigate where the magazine or anthology is being distributed. You're looking for reach. A little ezine might only have a few hundred subscribers, but a print anthology might sit in a Barnes and Nobles.

• be wise with time. Remember, you have to keep writing your novels, so don’t spend an inordinate amount of time on short stories. Use it as an extension of your repertoire.

Short story writing can sharpen your skills, introduce your work to new audiences and might even add a little change in your pocket. Consider adding it to your list of promotional avenues.

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J.K. Coi said...

You always have such great tips Maria! Thanks so much. I've been thinking of short stories a lot since I have a few ideas that I know wouldn't amount to a full length novel.

Maria Zannini said...

Glad it was useful, JK.

You mentioned earlier that you'd be interested in writing some SF.

When it comes to short stories, there are a lot more markets for SF than straight romance. It would be a good way to dip your toe in unfamiliar waters and still gain some new readers along the way.

You don't see a lot of SF romance and I wish we did.

Tia Nevitt said...

What a coincidence! I just put up a "lessons learned" post about my latest short story, which I just polished up and sent to my top choice market. GMTA!

Maria Zannini said...

I remember reading that! Good for you for sending it in.

You're shaming me into getting my keester in gear and doing the same. :o)