Short stories can serve multiple purposes, and not just those interested in getting into magazines and anthologies. This post is going to walk you through the various things you can accomplish with short stories aside from just publishing them on Amazon.
What is a short story?
A short story is under 7500 words and can be written in a weekend. They centralize around a single plot focus or emotion. They can make great warm up sessions, give you a break from your main writing focus, and are fun to do with writing prompts.
Useful posts about writing a short story: https://www.thecreativepenn.com/2016/12/14/writing-short-stories-that-sell/
Useful FB page that shares prompt ideas: https://www.facebook.com/writingprompts.t/
Here are your options when it comes to what you can do with your short stories.
You can use a free short story as a perk to join your newsletter. “Get a free short story exclusive to my newsletter subscribers.”
You could even do these short stories monthly or every couple of months. These 5-minute reads can be seasonal, and you can switch them out easily enough with programs like Prolific Works that offer timelines and download limits.
You could offer to share another author’s post on your social media in exchange for them sharing one of your stories. It’s similar to a newsletter swap when talking about sharing book URLS, and make sure you stick with an author who has works in your genre. Their readers might like the story so much that they follow it back to your page and join your FB page as a follower. Also, it strengthens your networking bond.
If your story is short enough—think Flash Fiction, Drabble, 100-word, etc.—you can have it printed on the front and back of a postcard through a site like Vistaprint and use these as incentives to join your newsletter or try out your other works. You can send these when someone orders a book through your website, at festivals, book signing events, or to leave as freebies in doctor’s office, the gym, or attached to presents you give co-workers, teachers, family.
These could even be seasonal like the ones you rotate through your newsletter.
Magazines and Anthologies
You could submit stories to magazines and anthologies. If you did this, you could use 1st rights ( https://writingwithoutdrama.wordpress.com/2019/08/06/exploring-publishing-rights/ ) in the magazines/anthologies and then publish the short stories in your newsletters after the terms of the contract.
Don’t neglect reprint rights. Many magazines will take stories that have already had their 1st rights used—printed in other magazines/anthologies, used in your newsletters, posted on your social media—and some even pay for those rights.
Useful sites for finding magazines to submit to:
Most writers want writing to be a long-term thing. Depending on how frequently you write a short story for your newsletter, you could turn around and publish collections by year, theme, genre, etc. over the course of the next few years.
Short stories are versatile. They give you the chance to experiment in different genres, POVs, and themes without taking up a lot of time compared to novels.
They are great mental exercises, akin to the story of the professor who had half the class just focus on mass producing and the other half that focused on producing the best quality ceramic piece.
TL;DR (too long; didn’t read), those who focused on making more pieces got better quicker and produced better quality than those who continually harped over a single piece, and writing is a lot like that. We sometimes get so bogged down in the book we’re writing that we don’t grow. Someone once said that to be a good writer you had to write a million words… what they neglected to say was you needed to write a million words in a million different ways to grow, not rehash the same story with the same words.
They are also cheaper to get professionally edited which is great for 1) testing out editors, 2) learning more about grammar and punctuation that you can later apply to your longer works during rewrites, thus making you a stronger writer.
If you’re wanting to try your hand at short stories and you’re away from your writing tablet or desktop, use Google Docs or text/message yourself the story. Let your imagination run wild with the “what ifs” and have fun doing it. You might just discover how much fun it is to step outside of your comfort zone.