Should you self publish short stories?
I wish I had a definitive answer for you, but sadly as always, the answer is maybe.
1. The Shorter The Story, The Better It Has To Be
The minimum you can charge for anything on Amazon Kindle or Smashwords is 99 cents US. This might not seem like much, but considering the fact that you can get entire novels for 99 cents, your short story had better be good if it’s going to satisfy a reader.
This means you have to be very careful with your formatting, you grammar and spelling and you have to be quite sure you’ve got a good story on your hands. Get some other people to check your work, to give you honest feedback on what you’ve written. Remember that your story may end up on the Kindle of someone in the industry you’d quite like to impress, so it had better be the best you can do.
2. You Still Need A Proper Cover
The need for a professional looking cover is something self publishing gurus have been on about for awhile now. Nothing screams “bad story” like a bad cover. It’s not fair, but people really do judge a book by its cover.
They’ll judge your short story too. They’ll judge it hard.
For some reason a lot of short stories and novellas go up on Amazon with covers that look like were designed by an enthusiastic marmoset.
Marmosets are not known for their artistic ability.
I can’t draw, not even stick figures. I have no graphic design skills. Realising my limitations when I needed a couple of covers I got the spectacularly awesome Rebecca Treadway to design my covers for me. She did it quickly and well and for a very reasonable price. Even if I don’t break even on selling the stories, having Rebecca’s covers on there is still worth it present a professional image.
I’ve since taken the stories that had the covers on then off the market to be put into a collection, however Rebecca is still awesome.
If you’re interested in hiring Rebecca you can find her rates here.
3. You Might Not Sell Any
Short fiction is a tough sell online. As I said above for 99 cents someone can buy a full novel, so convincing them to invest in your short fiction can be hard. With that said, the same marketing principles apply to short fiction that apply to longer works.
Word of mouth is king, if you get enough people loving your short fiction it won’t matter that it’s not a 400,000 word magnum opus. A good cover will help with promoting your work, and the more stories you have available to sell, the more you will sell of each one.
4. You Must, MUST, Tell Readers That It’s A Short Story
I’ve already said it can be hard to get people to shell out for short stories, but that is far preferable to annoying potential readers by failing to mention that what you’re selling is a quick bite instead of a full meal.
Makes sure that the words “short story” appear both on the cover and in the description so your readers will know what they’re getting.
5. Be Prepared For Feedback
It’s much easier to judge a short story than it is a novel, simply because it’s shorter. If someone doesn’t like your novel they may just put it down without finishing it, or they may finish it without deciding to leave comments on your Amazon page.
Short stories are different. Someone can read it and comment on it within the same hour. This is great if they like your stuff, but if they don’t you need to be prepared for them to say so.
You can’t challenge bad reviews, no matter how tempting, or how unreasonable the review. To do so makes you look petty. A lot of authors refuse to comment on reviews at all, and to me that seems like the best policy. There are ways to comment without making yourself look silly but no matter what; if you comment on a review, good or bad, you’re taking a risk.
Do you think you’ll self publish any short fiction? Do you have any for sale at the moment? Let me know in the comments!
I’ll pick a commenter at random and send them a copy of The Long Tour and Night Record.