Fiction: Taking the Short Road to Discovery

Photo by Claudsy

Webinar offers, professional newsletters, etc. slide into my inbox on a regular basis. Some are throw-aways that garner little interest. Others stand out because of their origin or subject matter. Those are investigated for whatever usable information and heads-up alerts they might contain. Not all are for publicity, or self-improvement, or blogging. Some bend toward fiction writers.

Let’s look at a big trend that gathers interest in the bank.

One of the major trends seems to have come into its own in recent months. The writer takes out her/his novel’s lesser subplots to use as short stories to generate interest and readership for a novel-in-progress. The writer can also take minor characters to use as primary voices to weave fascinating short stories about some event or meeting that involves the novel’s main character(s).

This approach allows the writer to show more details about settings, culture, and those grains of ephemera that draw the reader into the background story. Publishing a chapbook of these short stories and titling it something like “Tales from the Realm of Wunderkin,” let’s say, cranks up the volume for the longer story yet to come. It can also gather fuel for your marketing endeavor when the novel does hit the shelves.

Publishers who seek short story writers aren’t lonely.

A good example of this technique is a policy of Orbit Books, publisher of science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, and horror. Today’s newsletter told of a new short story release from Elliott James, whose book “Charming” is a smash success that came out this past September. Before his second book goes public, James has released short stories featuring his main character, Pax Arcana. These short stories are published and sold by Orbit through Amazon Kindle. Fans of James’ “Charming” swoop in and buy these little gems for a couple of dollars each.

You might ask what the big deal is about this one example. It’s just this. It is only one example of at least two mass market publishers of the genre that publish short stories as stand-alones for writers who have already, or soon will have, published a novel. Tor Books also has this policy.

Tor Books goes a bit further in its practice. It publishes short stories, novelettes, novellas, and non-fiction (usually dealing with fiction) along with its novels. It also publishes collections of its short fiction. These short works don’t have to be aligned with a novel, but if they are, so much the better.

It looks like the short story is on its way back to mainstream publishing.

Mobile devices have influenced this trend.

Publishers for mobile devices have been gathering steam in the short works department for several years. They rose with the popularity of the smartphone and iPad. Our digital world has created an atmosphere which encourages short attention spans. Short fiction that can be read during a coffee break or on the commute to and from work fits the bill.

Ether Books and Alfie Dog both work with short story writers.  Ether Books also publishes poetry and articles of all kinds. This is a great training ground and allows quick feedback. Since both of these presses are vetted, the writer’s credentials also increase. New writers have a chance to grab an audience that will move with them and grow.

This one trend can act as a catalyst for the new writer who isn’t secure in her/his abilities and craft as yet, or the older writer changing genres. It also allows for rapid growth due to rapid feedback from readers and editors. With those two important factors is the knowledge that these four venues are all international in flavor and reach.

For any wishing to explore Ether Books, simply register on the site as a writer. Once that is in effect, you can go to the Submit Work page and begin the process. Short fiction, especially flash fiction, is highly sought after.

Let’s look to the future of short fiction.

Trends shift and change with the wind. They also tend to clump into groups to create their own community of factors. The digital age has forced change for all in the publishing industry, but change doesn’t have to stifle the writer.

Striding across the reading world to capture an audience no longer requires decades of striving and struggle. Hard work doesn’t have to take more than a short walk down a short road to find success and satisfaction. If the bank account gains as a result, another plus is added to the community of trends.


Take a chance. Check out presses, large and small, and see if they are following this short story trend. Amazon may not have cornered the market quite yet.

2 comments for “Fiction: Taking the Short Road to Discovery

  1. November 18, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    Very interesting. Thanks for sharing this! It is quite useful advice for self-publishers as well as those traditionally published.

  2. November 18, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    Thank you, Jane. I have more, which will be coming along a bit at a time over the next few months. I like to think this can help anyone find a market for their work, without having to rely on individual recommendations all the time.

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