I have to admit I was a little sceptical when I started writing for anthologies, after all many don’t pay a lot, or indeed anything. Short stories are also a challenge in themselves as they require the writer to be reasonably succinct. I’ve never been good at sticking within a word count. With the exception of a few sci-fi and horror books I didn’t read many and most of those have a shared them. So why the change?
I’ve always written short stories for my own entertainment, or occasionally friends/small groups and so, I guess, it was just a step on from this. Often I have found a story to tell which is no way enough for a novel or longer work but is entertaining in itself. Short stories have their market and often lead to more, or come from more – for example the short story in my own Tales of Erana which came from a tale told in the Shining Citadel. Short stories are also a good way to hone one’s writing skills.
For a reader it is a fine way to discover a new author, or read something complete on a coffee break or commute to work. With a selection of stories there will, hopefully something to please everyone and if the reader doesn’t like a story then it is easy to simply skip to the next and not lose anything from a plot. For an author it is a great way to find new readers, make new friends and contacts and use ideas which might not otherwise be used. On the down side – many anthologies don’t pay or have very strict criteria and obviously short stories still take time to produce – time perhaps taken from other writing or non-writing commitments. Then, of course if an author decides to write a short story how much is appropriate to charge? Free? 99c/77p? $2.99? What is a reader willing to pay?
I’m a member of the Indie Collaboration, a Facebook based group of authors producing a varied selection of free anthologies, including a horror based one, a romance themed one and a children’s storybook. The downloads for these have been in the hundreds and rising, and the reviews mostly good. Being free means of course the authors don’t get paid but that is not the point, which is establishing a wider readership for the authors and producing good quality indie reads available to all.
Have I seen an uptick in book sales since I’ve been writing short stories? Yes, my own anthology has been nominated for book of the month on one of the goodreads groups. I have also been asked to write for a few more and hopefully this will lead to further requests. I would have been unlikely to have produced Tales of Erana had I not started writing short stories again, and that is doing fairly well. I would also have not written Just One Mistake which features in Nine Heroes, Coel and his friends will certainly have at least one more adventure. It is always hard to judge whether the increases are due to the anthologies or other influences, such as author interviews, general promotion or word of mouth but they surely can’t hurt.
As a reader I have bought a few, finding them a great way to grab a quick read and I have bought the books of their authors or added their names to my to-be-read list. So for me at least short stories work.
Below I have listed polls – one for authors and one for readers asking questions about writing/reading habits regarding anthologies.