A Short Story Publishing Strategy, Sort of

Finally, a publishing strategy for my short fiction!

Back when I was in university, I wrote some short fiction. I even got some backhand praise for it (“It’s too real, you’re writing a memoir and passing it off as fiction”), if not the best grades.

But I’ve always been drawn to the epic novel, the longest of long forms (think Lord of the Rings, which was written to be one volume with five parts but was published as three volumes).

I don’t know when I stopped writing short fiction, but I do know when I restarted.

There’s a new York literary agent named Janet Reid. For a while, she ran a weekly contest. She’d give you five words and you had to use them in a story of exactly 100 words. You had from late Friday until late Sunday to complete this task.

It was hard. It was fun.

It taught me a lot about brevity (ironically, something this post might lack). Then I started looking through my backlog of stories and found that a lot of them could easily be told in a much shorter form than an epic novel.

I discovered that 2,000 – 3,000 word stories were my jam. I started reading up on short fiction markets and submitted some stories. Then I sold a couple of them. I had my first professional sale, many semi-pro sales and some interesting contracts that I wouldn’t sign (You can read about here).

After six or seven years, I had a backlog of about 30 short stories and another 25 or so drabbles (those 100-word stories).

I gathered the best of the best, 14 short stories and 12 drabbles and made a book. Then I made three more. No, I don’t have enough content for four books.

But I do have a strategy.

I write across a number of genres, so I decided that for Amazon Kindle, I’d release two short “samplers”; one of space opera stories and the other of a speculative fiction variety. Both would have three stories and three drabbles. I’d make a third ebook sampler of just the complete set of drabbles and offer it to anyone who signed up for my newsletter.

The 14 short stories and the 12 drabbles, I’d bind as a paperback. This would allow me to learn about that whole process before I was ready to release one of my ‘epic novels’.

In a surprise to myself, I ended up also making an ebook out of the complete collection, and offering it everywhere except Amazon (It conflicts with the samplers).

So now those short stories have become four titles and five publications (four published and one given away)!

I’m still new to all this, and I’m finding it hard to keep track of where everything is available and when. Why don’t you take a minute to check out skrapbooks.com (my publishing company) to see if there’s anything you’d be interested in.