Alright, since a bunch of people wanted to know about this. Here’s the business side of writing shorts.
Added material for fans
I first started writing shorts as added material for fans. That’s what the Kapoosh and Lana story shorts are for. Neither one are ‘traditional’ shorts, in that they are more slice of life. They are great for fans to read, and what I use to give away to fans in my newsletter and patron subscribers as free, exclusive product pretty much.
I wouldn’t really sell these shorts on Amazon since they aren’t ‘full’ stories, but slice of life of favorite characters.
Eventually, I plan on having more exclusive stuff, but just by writing within your existing universe, you can provide added value to fans who want more of that universe.
Sales Funnel Bait
I also have shorts as possible giveaway items on Bookfunnel and Story Origins. I can afford to give away these shorts without really seeing a loss and it drives more people to my newsletters (which then allows me to convert them towards more sales).
Thanks to Travis, I even have an audiobook short for A Thousand Li: The Favored Son which allows me to specifically target audiobook newsletter giveaways and create a (small) but growing list of audiobook readers.
Giving away all my shorts in my patreon is another way of baiting people in, even at the $1 level.
Magazines, Anthologies & Short Story Collections
Did you know there’s a robust market for short stories? And all these magazines and anthologies are looking for interesting work. Not only do you get the external validation of having an editor choose your work, if they are paying pro rates, you can earn up to $0.08 a word!
For a 5000 word short, that’s $400! Not bad, eh? And of course, reprints can earn you a little (often between $20-50 from what I’ve seen). Of course, a lot of markets don’t pay pro rates, but there’s also a secondary benefit.
Marketing & promotions. Not only can you add that you’ve been published in X magazine to your resume, you are also exhibiting your work to a new readership quite often. And a small number of them might be so intrigued, they’d follow you to your main series.
Best of all? You got paid for this!
For example, I’ve got short stories in the More Future Earths collection and the Fantastic Earths anthology. Eventually, a couple of other shorts I’ve written and sold will also show up, though its going to be a bit for some.
Which is the disadvantage. Many magazines and anthologies run multiple months behind – working on producing 2 to 3 editions ahead. So, you’ll have to be willing to sit on your story for a bit while you are waiting for your work to come out (since most buy first print rights).
Indie Publishing Your Work
Alright, now we get to the last part, about indie publishing your short story. There are a few ways of doing this – you can do it via an anthology and collection (which works if you have a ton of shorts you’ve written for various anthologies & collections before or just old work and just want to bundle them up in a thematic piece) or you can publish them individually.
One thing to note is that indie publishing your shorts is unlikely to earn you as much as publishing a full novel. In addition, you should also realise how it affects your marketing strategy and brand (yeah, me mass releasing my shorts without some novels in-between was probably a bad idea).
Most shorts and anthologies don’t earn a lot, so when producing it, you should try to keep costs down.
For numbers and data though, I’ll do that in the second post with actual graphs and some actual numbers.
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