How short stories can open the door to publishing
Get your foot in the publishing door, get paid, & compile a story collection
Some people say there’s no place in today’s publishing world for stories, but in reality, there are more opportunities than ever to publish short fiction. While the major publishers do favor novels over story collections, the online market for short stories has exploded. Even CNET is now publishing short fiction, paying a handsome four figures per story. Glimmer Train has long paid its writers well. While four-figure payouts for short fiction are unusual, and CNET only publishes solicited work at this time, there are hundreds of online and print publications publishing short stories by new and unknown writers. (Glimmer Train actively seeks work by unpublished writers). Other well-established print journals that pay for short stories include The Threepenny Review, One Story, The Georgia Review, and The Sun Magazine.
For many writers, short stories provide entrance into the publishing world, as well as a path to representation by a literary agent. Although a short story collection is unlikely to be a big commercial hit, it can help you get on the publishing map, garnering reviews and solidifying you as a “writer to watch.”
A short story collection launched my writing career sixteen years ago, quickly leading to my first published novel. Long story short: I published a few stories in literary magazines, then submitted them as a collection to an annual contest. The collection was then published by a university press. After the book came out, a literary scout for a publishing house saw it at Barnes and Noble and contacted me to ask if I had a novel. I signed a contract for my first novel a few months later, and the publication of the novel ended led to a fellowship to a writing conference, where I met my agent, who has since sold four novels for me in the US in addition to selling my novels to publishers in 26 languages. For me, it all began with publishing short stories in literary magazines.
While publishing a story collection with a university press may not be as glamorous as selling one’s debut novel to a publisher, it is a reliable way to get one’s foot in the door, and it provides a path to publication for many writers.
To take this path, of course, you have to write a really good story. And then you have to write a few more good stories, enough to make a collection.
There are plenty of places for aspiring novelists to find encouragement and community, but outside of MFA programs, the craft of short story writing often gets lost in the noise. In a recent survey, a number of writers told me they’re working on short stories or story collections (go here to take the survey, 4 Quick Questions About Your Writing Life).
That’s where my new online course, MASTER THE SHORT STORY, comes in.
In this 8-week course, we’ll dive deep into the elements of story craft: characterization, dialogue, point of view, plot, structure, voice, description, and more.
This course is ideal for beginning writers, or for anyone who wants to brush up on narrative craft. In this eight-week intensive, you’ll discover the secrets to writing compelling stories. You’ll learn to create complex characters who drive the plot. And if you’re having trouble getting started, the weekly assignments will keep you on track. In this course, you’ll get:
- Weekly video and written lectures
- Assignments to help you practice what you’ve learned
- Ideas to help you start your stories
- Discussion boards to foster learning and community
You can access the materials at any time, and if you get behind, don’t worry. You’ll continue to have access for six months after the course ends. Please watch the intro video to learn more.
You’ll get immediate access to Module 1: Characterization, upon enrollment.
Share your thoughts:
I’d love to hear about what you’re writing in the comments section. Are you writing a novel, stories, or both? If you’re writing short stories, have you considered compiling them in a collection? Have you had success publishing your stories in literary journals or as a collection?
Michelle Richmond is the author of two story collections, The Girl in the Fall-Away Dress and Hum, as well as four novels, including the New York Times bestseller The Year of Fog. Her new novel will be published this summer by Bantam, with translations forthcoming in 26 languages. Follow this publication to get Michelle’s monthly writing and publishing newsletter.