If you’re passionate about storytelling and want to turn your creativity into a revenue stream, you’re probably wondering how to make money writing short stories.
Good news: the landscape for monetizing your tales is broader than ever. From traditional publishing routes to self-publishing and beyond, multiple avenues can lead to a lucrative writing career. One excellent tip to keep in mind as you delve into these opportunities is to focus on a niche.
Whether it’s sci-fi, romance, or mystery, targeting a specific audience can help you stand out and increase your earnings.
In this article, we’ll explore various strategies to help you achieve your financial goals as a short story writer without compromising on your artistic vision.
- Focus on a Niche: Targeting a specific genre or audience can significantly boost your earning potential.
- Literary Magazines: A traditional yet effective way to monetize your short stories. Remember to research magazines that pay and read past issues to align your style.
- Self-Publishing with Amazon KDP: A direct avenue to reach millions of readers where you have control over pricing. Quality control is essential here.
- Wattpad for Community Engagement: Ideal for serial writers and offers real-time reader feedback to refine your work.
- Patreon for Recurring Income: Build a community of paying subscribers for a stable income stream. Offer exclusive content to keep them engaged.
- Leverage Multiple Platforms: Don’t rely solely on one channel; consider blogs, Medium, and even YouTube as alternative ways to monetize your writing.
How To Make Money Writing Short Stories – Traditional Publishing
Literary magazines offer one of the most straightforward paths for making money by writing short stories. Magazines either pay a flat fee or offer a payment based on word count. Many well-known writers have launched their careers by first getting published in these types of magazines.
However, the competition is stiff, and you’ll need to carefully follow the submission guidelines and possibly adhere to certain themes or styles to increase your chances of getting published.
Strategies for literary magazines:
- Research Magazines: Not all magazines pay, so focus your efforts on those that do. Check websites or databases that list reputable paying markets.
- Read Past Issues: Familiarize yourself with the type of stories each magazine publishes to tailor your submission accordingly.
- Follow Submission Guidelines: Ignoring guidelines, no matter how good your story is, will most likely lead to rejection. Always adhere to specified formats, lengths, and submission methods.
Anthologies often focus on a particular theme or genre, and these curated collections offer another avenue for selling your short stories. Publishers or organizations will often put out a call for submissions that match the anthology’s focus.
If your story is selected, you’ll usually receive a one-time payment and sometimes a share of royalties.
Strategies for short story anthologies:
- Seek Calls for Submissions: Websites like Submittable and various writing groups often post upcoming opportunities.
- Write to the Theme: Tailor your story to fit the anthology’s theme for a higher likelihood of being chosen.
- Quality Over Quantity: A well-crafted, compelling story will stand out more than hastily written, lower-quality submissions.
Writing competitions offer an immediate financial reward in the form of cash prizes. Some even offer publishing contracts or introductions to industry professionals.
You’ll often need to pay an entry fee, so choose the competitions you enter carefully, focusing on those that are reputable and match your writing style.
Strategies for writing competitions:
- Identify Reputable Competitions: Look for competitions with a history of successful publications or ones that are affiliated with respected organizations.
- Read Previous Winners: Study past winners to gauge what the judges might be looking for.
- Be Mindful of Deadlines and Rules: Always adhere to word count limits, themes, and submission guidelines to ensure your entry is valid.
While it’s challenging to get a collection of short stories published by traditional publishers, it’s not impossible, especially if you have a unique angle or theme that ties your work together.
Publishers prefer collections that have some stories that have already been published in reputable magazines or anthologies, as it provides proof of your writing’s marketability.
Strategies for traditional book publishers:
- Build a Portfolio: Before pitching a collection, aim to get individual stories published to build credibility.
- Query Agents: Most traditional publishers work through agents, so start by sending query letters.
- Focus on Cohesion: Your collection should be more than just random stories; there should be a common thread or theme.
Writer’s residencies offer you a dedicated time and space to focus on your writing, often in inspiring or secluded settings.
These are ideal places to produce high-quality work that you can later sell. Many residencies offer stipends in addition to covering your stay.
Strategies with writer’s residences:
- Apply Widely: Residencies are competitive, so apply to several to increase your chances.
- Showcase Your Best Work: Your application will often require a writing sample; make sure it’s one of your best pieces.
- Leverage the Network: Use this time to connect with other writers, as well as the organizers, who can offer further opportunities for selling your stories.
Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform offers a straightforward method to self-publish and monetize your short stories. With KDP, you control the pricing, and Amazon takes a percentage of the sales.
You can either publish a collection of short stories or individual pieces, and you’ll reach an audience of millions without the need for an agent or publisher.
Strategies for KDP:
- Quality Control: Invest in professional editing and cover design to make your work stand out among the plethora of self-published content.
- Price Sensibly: Use Amazon’s pricing recommendations or research similar works to price your stories competitively.
- Leverage KDP Select: For exclusive distribution rights for a certain period, Amazon offers better royalties and promotional opportunities via their KDP Select program.
Wattpad is a storytelling platform with a social twist, ideal for writers who aim to engage with a community of readers while earning money. It’s particularly useful for serial writers who prefer publishing their stories one chapter at a time.
Wattpad offers multiple pathways to monetization, from in-story ads to exclusive partnerships through their Wattpad Paid Stories and Wattpad Stars programs. Unlike traditional publishing routes, Wattpad allows real-time reader interaction, making it a fertile ground for testing your work and building a dedicated audience before considering other publishing options.
Strategies for Wattpad:
- Focus on Engagement: To be considered for the Paid Stories Program, aim for high reader engagement. Make use of Wattpad’s analytics to understand what works.
- Portfolio Diversification: Create a diverse range of compelling stories to increase your chances of being invited to the Wattpad Stars Program, which offers lucrative brand partnerships.
- Optimize Ad Placement: Utilize in-story ads effectively. You can control the frequency but aim for a balanced experience to keep your readers engaged while earning ad revenue.
Having your own website enables you to bypass third-party platforms and sell your short stories directly to your audience. You have full control over pricing and the user experience.
However, the downside is that you’re wholly responsible for driving traffic to your website.
Strategies for PDFs:
- Keyword Optimization: Use relevant keywords and metadata to make your website and its products discoverable by search engines.
- Landing Page: Create an engaging landing page specifically for your short story collection, complete with testimonials and sample chapters.
- Payment Gateways: Ensure that your website has a secure and user-friendly method for payments.
Crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter or Indiegogo offer a way to gauge interest in your project and secure funds upfront. People who believe in your talent can back your project in exchange for copies of the short stories or other rewards.
Successful crowdfunding not only provides funding but also creates a community of readers eager for your work.
Strategies for crowdfunding:
- Appealing Rewards: Offer various tiers of rewards such as signed copies, exclusive content, or even personalized stories to entice backers.
- Marketing and Promotion: Use social media, newsletters, and blogs to create buzz around your crowdfunding campaign.
- Budget Wisely: Make sure to account for all costs, including printing, shipping, and platform fees, when setting your fundraising goal.
Patreon allows you to build a community of paying subscribers who receive exclusive content. You can provide a new short story each month for a recurring fee, making it a stable and predictable source of income.
The platform enables you to focus on creating content rather than the intricacies of transaction processing and delivery.
Strategies for Patreon:
- Exclusive Benefits: Beyond just stories, offer additional benefits like behind-the-scenes content, writing tips, or Q&A sessions.
- Engage Your Community: Regularly interact with your patrons to understand their likes and dislikes, which in turn can shape your future stories.
- Multiple Tiers: Offer different subscription levels with varying benefits to attract a wider range of patrons.
Creating a blog is an excellent way to build an audience for your short stories while also having the potential to monetize that audience. Whether it’s through advertisements, sponsorships, or premium content, a blog offers multiple revenue streams.
The key is to create high-quality stories that attract a loyal readership, making them more inclined to engage with paid opportunities or exclusive content.
Strategies for blogs:
- Quality Content: Focus on writing compelling short stories that will attract and retain a loyal readership.
- Monetization Methods: Consider various income streams such as Google AdSense for ads, affiliate marketing, or a subscription model for premium stories.
- Audience Engagement: Use analytics to understand your audience better and engage with them through comments or social media to keep them coming back.
Medium offers a Partner Program where you can make money based on how many people read and engage with your stories.
The platform comes with a built-in audience, alleviating the need to build one from scratch. Quality and engagement are crucial, as your earnings depend on reading time and interaction.
Strategies for the Medium Partner Program:
- Quality Over Quantity: Write compelling stories that encourage readers to spend more time on your articles, increasing your potential earnings.
- Engage in the Medium Community: Read, comment, and engage with other writers and readers to build a following within the platform.
- Promote Outside Medium: Share your Medium stories on social media and other platforms to attract more readers.
If you have expertise in short story writing, teaching an online course could be highly lucrative. You can include your own stories as case studies or examples, which not only teach but also promote your work.
Platforms like Udemy, Coursera, or your own website can host these courses.
Strategies for online courses:
- Target Audience: Know your target students and tailor the course to their needs and skill levels.
- Course Structure: Plan a comprehensive syllabus that covers all aspects of short story writing, using your stories as practical examples.
- Promotion: Use social media, your blog, or partnerships with other platforms to attract students to your course.
Turning your short stories into a podcast series allows you to tap into the ever-growing podcast listener base.
You can monetize your podcasts through sponsorships, affiliate marketing, or premium subscriptions offering early or exclusive access to new episodes.
Strategies for podcast narrations:
- Quality Production: Invest in good-quality audio equipment and editing software to produce professional-sounding podcasts.
- Promotion: Use your existing platforms like a blog or social media to promote your podcast.
- Engagement: Regularly interact with your listeners through Q&A sessions, listener mail, or even incorporating their feedback into future stories.
YouTube provides another platform to monetize your short stories by narrating them and creating video content.
Once you have a good number of subscribers and views, you can make money through YouTube’s Partner Program, which includes ad revenue, channel memberships, and more.
Strategies for YouTube:
- Quality Video: Invest in good lighting, a quality camera, and editing software to make your videos look professional.
- Engagement: Use call-to-actions like “Subscribe” or “Like” to increase viewer engagement, thereby boosting your channel’s visibility.
- Consistency: Keep a consistent posting schedule to keep your audience engaged and attract new subscribers.
Ghostwriting is an excellent way to make money writing short stories, especially for clients who have brilliant ideas but lack the skills to articulate them. You can collaborate with individual clients or companies who need short stories for various purposes, such as digital content or even print.
While ghostwriting usually means you won’t get public credit for your work, the pay can be substantial.
Strategies for ghostwriting:
- Market Your Skills: Use platforms like Upwork, Freelancer, or your own website to advertise your ghostwriting services.
- Portfolio: Keep a portfolio of your best (non-confidential) work to show prospective clients. This will be crucial for landing gigs.
- Client Agreements: Always have a contract that clearly defines the scope of work, deadlines, and payment terms.
Custom short stories can be an emotionally impactful and unique gift for special occasions like anniversaries, birthdays, or weddings.
You can offer this service to individuals who are looking for something truly special and are willing to pay for it.
Strategies for customer short stories:
- Specialized Marketing: Target your advertising toward events and special occasions where people are more likely to seek out unique gifts.
- Consultation Process: Develop a thorough consultation process to understand exactly what the client is looking for.
- Pricing Strategy: Custom stories are unique and should be priced accordingly. Make sure to account for your time and creativity.
If you’ve written a short story that has mass appeal, syndication is a strategy that allows you to resell the same piece to multiple outlets, usually with some limitations.
This can be a profitable venture as long as you find the right partners, such as magazines or websites, that are willing to pay for content that has already been published.
Strategies for syndicating short stories:
- Quality Control: Your story needs to be of the highest quality to attract syndication partners.
- Research Potential Outlets: Look for magazines or websites that are open to syndicating content and reach out to them.
- Legalities: Make sure to read any contracts carefully and consider legal advice to ensure that you retain the rights you want.
Licensing your short stories can be another income stream. This means allowing your stories to be adapted into other media formats like radio plays, screenplays, or even video games.
Licensing can give your work a new life and reach a broader audience while generating additional revenue.
Strategies for licensing:
- Intellectual Property: Understand the ins and outs of intellectual property law to protect your rights while licensing your work.
- Networking: Attend industry events or workshops to meet potential partners interested in adapting your stories.
- Contract Negotiation: Be sure to negotiate terms that are favorable to you, including royalties and creative control. Always consult with a legal advisor when formalizing licensing agreements.
Social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook can be indispensable tools for promoting your short stories. With the right strategy, you can build a devoted audience, keep them engaged, and direct them to platforms where they can purchase your work.
Plus, social media can also amplify your reach through shares and recommendations.
Strategies for social media:
- Content Planning: Consistently post teasers, quotes, or even short excerpts from your stories to pique interest.
- Engagement: Engage with followers by responding to comments, and encourage user-generated content, like reviews or fan art.
- Promotional Campaigns: Run ads or promotional posts targeting a specific demographic interested in your genre of writing.
An author’s website serves as a one-stop shop for everything related to your work. It’s where potential readers can learn more about you, read your portfolio, and most importantly, purchase your stories. A well-designed website can boost your credibility and sales.
Strategies for author websites:
- Optimize for Search: Implement SEO strategies to attract organic traffic to your website.
- E-commerce Integration: Add a secure and user-friendly shopping cart feature to facilitate sales directly from your website.
- Newsletter Sign-up: Include a sign-up form for an email newsletter to keep visitors engaged and coming back.
Writers’ conferences, workshops, and seminars are prime locations to meet industry professionals who might be interested in purchasing or publishing your stories. Networking in person can provide opportunities that digital communications can’t match.
Strategies for networking events:
- Preparation: Research attendees and speakers beforehand to target your networking effectively.
- Elevator Pitch: Have a compelling elevator pitch ready to succinctly describe your work and its unique selling points.
- Follow-up: Always follow up with new contacts via email or social media to maintain the relationship.
Joining or forming a writing group provides a platform for feedback, and moral support, and potentially leads to money-making opportunities. A collective of writers can offer various perspectives that can help refine your stories and make them more marketable.
Strategies for writing groups:
- Active Participation: Don’t just attend meetings; be an active participant to maximize benefits.
- Peer Review: Use the group for constructive feedback, which can improve your stories before you send them off for potential purchase or publishing.
- Networking: Leverage the group’s contacts for opportunities that individual members might hear about.
Creating an email newsletter allows you to directly reach your most dedicated fans. Offering exclusive stories or content to paid subscribers can turn your newsletter into a significant income stream.
Strategies for newsletters:
- Value Proposition: Clearly articulate the benefits of becoming a paid subscriber.
- Exclusive Content: Regularly provide high-quality stories or insights that are exclusive to subscribers.
- Promotion: Use your other platforms to encourage sign-ups, offering a free story as a joining bonus, for instance.
Merchandising can be a fun and creative way to earn extra income. If your stories have compelling characters or worlds, consider producing merchandise like art prints, bookmarks, or figurines.
Strategies for merchandising:
- Brand Consistency: Make sure all merchandise is consistent with the branding and themes of your stories.
- Quality Control: Source high-quality materials and production methods for your merchandise.
- E-commerce: Leverage your author’s website or platforms like Etsy to sell your merchandise.
If you’re experienced in the craft of short story writing, you can offer consulting services or workshops to aspiring writers. This not only generates income but also positions you as an expert in the field.
Strategies for workshops and consultations:
- Target Audience: Identify the skill level and needs of your target audience to tailor your services effectively.
- Marketing: Use testimonials and case studies to demonstrate the value you can bring.
- Pricing: Consider different pricing models, like hourly rates for consulting or flat fees for workshops, to accommodate various clients.
Figuring out how to make money writing short stories involves a multi-faceted approach that goes beyond just crafting compelling narratives.
Key takeaways include the importance of targeting a specific niche, diversifying your income sources, and continuously engaging with your audience for long-term success.
If you’ve found this guide helpful, you’ll likely benefit from our other posts focused on entrepreneurship and money-making ideas, such as;
- How to Make Money Online with Low Content Books; 10 Creative Ideas
- Make Money Writing Online; 21 Fun & Actionable Ways
- 30+ Best AI Writing Tools for Content Creators in 2023
- How to Start Freelancing and Create Ultimate Freedom!
Take the next step in building your dream job by exploring these resources today.
Yes, Wattpad has a program called “Wattpad Paid Stories” that allows writers to earn money through in-story ads and bonus payments. To be eligible, writers typically need to have a strong following and a significant amount of reads on their stories. The Wattpad Stars program is another avenue, where writers can earn money through brand partnerships and content syndication.
The sales potential of short stories can vary widely based on numerous factors such as genre, marketing, and platform. While novels are traditionally more marketable, there is a growing audience for short stories, especially in the digital realm. Collections by established authors or stories that fall into popular genres like romance or science fiction tend to sell better.
Earning money by writing can be achieved through multiple avenues. Traditional publishing, self-publishing, content marketing, freelance writing, and even blogging are viable options. The key is to diversify your income streams, continually market your work, and build a loyal audience.
Yes, you can self-publish short stories through platforms like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, Gumroad, or by selling PDFs directly from your own website. Self-publishing offers the advantage of complete creative control and a larger percentage of the royalties.
Earnings from short stories can range from a few dollars for newbie writers to thousands for established authors. It depends on where the story is published, the size of your audience, and how effectively you can market your work.
Entering paid writing competitions can be a great way to earn money, gain exposure, and even secure publishing deals. However, it’s important to research the credibility of the competition and weigh the entry fee against the potential benefits.
Apart from writing stories, you can monetize your skills through copywriting, technical writing, or even scriptwriting for videos and podcasts. Platforms like Upwork, Freelancer, and Fiverr can be good starting points to find such gigs.
Networking is crucial in the writing industry. Building relationships can lead to collaborative opportunities, freelance gigs, or even publishing deals. Social media, writing workshops, and industry events are good places to start networking.
Effective marketing strategies for short stories include leveraging social media, building an email newsletter, SEO optimization, and creating a professional author website. Paid advertising can also be effective if targeted properly.
Some of the best platforms for digital publishing include Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, Smashwords, Draft2Digital, and Medium’s Partner Program. Each platform has its own set of benefits, so it’s crucial to choose one that aligns with your goals and target audience.
Offering some of your stories for free can be a strategic way to attract new readers and entice them to purchase your paid works. Free stories can act as a “loss leader,” drawing people into your broader catalog.