As the author of a short story or a collection of short stories, you may be pleased to know that the popularity of short stories is on the rise. People have less time, and a shorter story can seem sweeter and more to the point.
As a writer, you want to get your short stories into the hands of those who will appreciate them. There are many ways you can do this. In this post, we detail five methods for publishing your short stories.
For Short Story Collections
If you’ve been working hard on a collection of short stories and have edited them to perfection, you have two options: you can publish your collection traditionally or self-publish it.
1. Publish your collection traditionally.
Considering submitting your collection of short stories to a publishing company? Here are a few things you should know.
What if you’re a first-time author?
Unfortunately, most publishing companies will not elect to publish a collection of stories by a first-time author. No matter the quality of your collection, the publishing company has no reason to be convinced it will sell. This is because readers are unlikely to purchase short story collections from authors they’re unfamiliar with.
We suggest you get one of your short stories published in a literary magazine or win a contest first. You will earn more credibility and increase the chances that a traditional publisher will accept your collection.
What if you’re a published author?
If you’ve already established yourself as a short story writer through an anthology, a literary magazine, or a contest, you have a better chance of getting your short story collection accepted by a traditional publisher.
If you decide to take the traditional publishing route with your collection, you’ll need to find a literary agent who is interested in taking on a new writer, as most reputable publishing companies will not look at unsolicited submissions. If you already have a literary agent, great! You’re ahead of the game.
You’ll find that the process of publishing your short story collection is more or less the same as the process for publishing a novel or other literary work. You’ll still need to learn the publishing process to figure out your next steps, but the real difference in submitting a short story collection will be the way your query letter is written.
Learn about query letters to make sure your pitch to an agent or publisher is successful.
Consider small printing presses.
Before you rush off to pitch to the biggest publishing company you can, consider the smaller presses. There are plenty of small, reputable publishers that are more likely to accept your work.
A press that specializes in short stories would be ideal, as they would already know the short story market and could get your collection to people who will read it.
Additionally, a smaller press might consider adding one of your short stories to an anthology, which would help get your name out there. Here are some places you can find smaller publishing presses you should consider:
Turn one of your short stories into a novel.
You might consider turning one of your short stories into a novel. Novels are still more widely read than short stories, and pitching a novel is far easier than pitching a short story collection.
If a novel is out of the question, consider submitting some of your stories for publication in literary magazines. A publication history will add credibility to your name.
2. Self-publish your collection.
The other route to take with your collection of short stories is to self-publish them. Take a minute to compare the benefits of self-publishing with those of traditional publishing.
Self-publishing can be a faster way to get your work out to readers. Additionally, you will have more creative control over your work. Many authors have published multiple short stories successfully this way.
If your goals are small and you simply want to share your short stories with friends and family, or you aim to reach a few hundred people, you should self-publish. You can use a print-on-demand service with relative ease through Amazon or IngramSpark.
When you’re self-publishing, you might consider how you want to market your book. Your short stories could center around a theme or be marketed as a series. If you self-publish your short stories, the good news is that you will own the rights and can turn any of them into a novel or adapt them in other ways.
For a Single Short Story
Authors of single short stories have a few options. As with a short story collection, you will need to choose either traditional or self-publishing. Here are the three main routes authors take:
1. Submit your story to a literary magazine.
If you have one short story you want to publish, consider submitting it to a literary magazine, either in print or online. This is the preferred traditional publishing method for single stories, and even authors with collections find that it’s much easier to get one short story published than to get a collection of stories published at once.
To do so, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with different literary magazines and the kinds of stories they may be looking for. You want to submit your short story to a publication whose brand fits your story.
If you publish in a literary magazine, you are much more likely to get your work noticed by a publisher. You will also be able to gain recognition as an independent author, should you self-publish a collection of short stories or other works down the road. Additionally, once you have one story published, you will find it easier to get other works published.
Many print and online literary magazines will pay professional rates. If you know where to look, you should be able to find a number of literary journals that publish works just like yours. Here are a few places to get you started:
2. Submit a story to a competition.
You can also earn money and recognition by winning a short story competition. A winning story will add credibility to your name, legitimize your work, and boost your confidence, and a publication credit can give you a leg up if you ever choose to submit a novel or collection to a traditional publisher in future.
Additionally, having a looming competition deadline can motivate you to edit and finalize your story!
You can find short story competitions in various publications as well as through writing organizations and literary societies. Here are some places to find writing competitions:
You can find many others by surfing the web. Pay attention to the submission guidelines, and note that while most contests will be free, some will have a small submission fee.
3. Post your story to a website or blog.
Lastly, you can self-publish a single short story on your website or blog. If your goal is simply to share your work with others, this could be a great option for you, as starting a blog is free and can help you gather a following.
Setting up a blog or webpage is relatively easy. Try some of these sites to get started:
If you want to be a serious writer, you should learn the ins and outs of creating a professional online way to share your work. Those who find your blog or webpage and enjoy what you’re posting will likely check out your future stories, too.