In the May edition of RWR (Romance Writers Report), there was an article titled “Don’t Shortchange the Short-Story Market.” I have a lot of respect for Elf Ahearn, the writer. I think she’s a great journalist but, as a former journalist myself, I know that we’re only as good as our sources.
None of Elf Ahearn’s sources specialize solely in the short story and novella market. The writers she quotes are wonderful writers but they’re not writing short stories and novellas as their sole source of income. They’re using them for promotion.
I write short stories and novellas as my sole source of writing income.
So I thought I’d share MY short story and novella reality (and this reality varies for every writer). I’ve written erotic romance (contemporary, SciFi and Paranormal) short stories and novellas for Avon Impulse, Ellora’s Cave, Loose Id and Changeling Press.
I concentrate on this shorter market because the readers who read 50 page stories want different things from their erotic romances than the readers who read 400 page stories. It also requires a different skill set, a skill set I’ve worked hard to obtain. And, of course, I LOVE writing short stories and novellas.
There’s a HUGE market for these stories. No, Decadent Publishing’s 1 Night Stand series didn’t kick off its popularity. Changeling Press, one of my publishers, has been publishing shorter erotic romances EXCLUSIVELY for 10 years. That’s ALL they publish (excluding stories from some established writers – grins at Flash aka Stephanie Burke). Changeling Press’ top desired word count is 35,000 words or 140 pages.
The RWR article groups short stories and novellas together. This is unfortunate because these markets are very different. It is challenging to find a publisher for a 10,000 word (40 page) short story. A 20,000 word (80 page) erotic romance novella can be placed at an almost overwhelming number of digital-first publishers.
And yes, for short stories and novellas, writers are likely looking at digital-first. Ebooks are what most short fiction readers are buying. I have some of my novellas available in print form but sales of these stories are much, MUCH lower.
Note: The article stated that Ellora’s Cave “boasts 72 anthologies and countless stand-alone titles.” These anthologies are PRINT anthologies. In erotic romance alone, they have over 1,500 short stories and novellas published. Of 55 titles on their coming soon page, 28 titles are short stories or novellas.
In the article, $250 was cited as “a good chunk of change for a short story.” $250 is not great but it is okay for a short story (40 pages or 10,000 words) from a relatively unknown writer looking for some promotional help.
I’m not well known but I have been published for almost five years. I expect to earn double that for a short story and ten times that for a novella. I know writers who make six figures from their lengthy backlist of short stories and novellas.
Note: I promote my short stories and novellas, I’m published with publishers with established short story and novella readerships, and I publish frequently (about one release a month).
Promotion is another reason to write short stories and novellas. I prefer to make these promo stories work harder. I usually give the story away in a charity anthology (I’m contributing to the Shades Of Pink anthology benefiting breast cancer which is releasing this fall). This is one more way writers can give back to the world. Sometimes I’ll contribute to an anthology with writers I respect and wish to get to know better. Some buddies have contributed to box sets, which land them on the best seller lists.
To write a novella for a flat fee publisher (would you write a NOVEL for a flat fee publisher?) merely because it is shorter, has a lower price point (sometimes) and might be good for promotion is, IMHO, not getting the best return for your work.
Because writing a 25,000 word, 100 page novella IS work. It also isn’t the same experience as writing a 100,000 word, 400 page novel. Some of the core craft knowledge is the same. Novella writers still need to know GMC (goals, motivation, conflict), structure (3 act, 5 act, whatever you use), character and world building, as well as other writer tools.
In addition to that, there’s a specific skill set required for writing novellas well (almost anyone can write a bad novella). Heck, writing novellas and short stories are very different, requiring different skills.
I’ve taken courses and workshops, read books, talked to established short story and novella writers. I didn’t switch from novels to novellas and short stories because it was easier. I switched because that’s where my skills are and that’s what I love to write.
Can you make a living and build a career with short stories and novellas? Yes. As I mentioned, some writers are earning six figures. This is much easier to accomplish when you respect the art form, learning the craft and the business.
Sinful Rewards 1
Belinda “Bee” Carter is a good girl; at least, that’s what she tells herself. And a good girl deserves a nice guy—just like the gorgeous and moody billionaire Nicolas Rainer. He is everything she wants in a man.
Or so she thinks, until she takes a look through her telescope and sees a naked, tattooed man on the balcony across the courtyard. Hawke is mysterious, the bad boy she knows will bring only heartbreak. He has been watching her, and that makes him all the more enticing.
But when a mysterious and anonymous text message dares her to do something bad, she must decide if she is really the good girl she has always claimed to be, or if she’s willing to risk everything for her secret fantasy of being watched.
Is her mystery man the reclusive billionaire with a wild side or the darkly dangerous bad boy?
Barnes And Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sinful-rewards-1-cynthia-sax/1119055390