More and more authors seem to be embracing the publication of short stories, particularly now that the eBook generation allows for such a format to be released with minimal hassle.
Previously, it was practically impossible to have standalone short stories published, as most writers found recognition through magazine publications, and the like.
But, after a few years on the sidelines, the short story is very much alive and kicking. Here are four reasons why every author should consider writing short stories.
Short stories keep readers hooked between novels
I kind of view short stories much like I view singles and albums in the music industry – the short story acts as the single; a sample of some of your finest writing abilities. The novel, therefore, is the album release, where you incorporate all of your best elements to form a much broader representation of your writing.
Short stories are a great way to keep readers hooked between novels. I released Something in the Cellar as a way of thanking my readers for their support in the build up to the launch of What We Saw, and have another short planned for a September release. This way, I can deliver constant content to my readers, at a nice, low cost.
David Gaughran is another author who took the ‘short story first’ approach, and it seems to have worked convincingly for him.
Short stories and the eReader go hand in hand
In truth, the eReader was designed for short stories.
Just think of all the times you spend waiting throughout the day, whether it be stuck in traffic, or twiddling your thumbs as your food cooks. Sure – you could pull out your eReader and carry on with your latest novel, but you’ll probably have to cut yourself from its world the second your oven timer runs down.
With short stories, you can read some of them within the space of ten or fifteen minutes, making them the perfect time-killer. In the dentist’s waiting room? My sympathies. Whack out your Kindle and read a short story to get your mind off things!
If you can enter and exit a story world within the space of ten minutes, then you might just find yourself a little more engrossed, and that tooth pulling won’t seem such a big deal at all… perhaps.
Short stories are a perfect marketing guinea pig
I have a confession to make: whilst Something in the Cellar has received all the care and passion you’d expect from an author, I have used it as a bit of a marketing lab rat.
I’ve tinkered with the price a few times, and seen what works best. I have run giveaways, and a very successful free day. I have enrolled it in KDP Select, after experimenting with Smashwords.
The beauty of the short story is that you can kind of get away with it. Again, not taking anything away from the quality (of which I happen to be really quite proud of, in my own case), but the short is only a ‘minor’ release in the eyes of many readers.
So, mess around at your own will, and see what works for you. You have my permission.
The short story offers more creative freedom
My favourite thing about writing short stories is the sheer freedom they offer. Some people struggle to write in the confines of a few thousand words, but I really do love it.
You can explore individual characters in the sort of detail you’d never be able to in a novel. You can mess with conventions, and write well outside of your niche. I consider myself a literary/thriller writer, but my next short story will be well in the realms of science-fiction (tease!)
Don’t be afraid to reach outside of your comfort zone. Challenge yourself, and you’ll become a better writer for it.
J.M. Tresaugue recently wrote a very comprehensive list of reasons to write short stories, so if you’re interested after reading this piece, then his will certainly help you on your way.
What is your opinion on short stories, from an author or reader perspective? Do you enjoy the shorter form, or prefer to throw all of your attention into a novel?