Publish Your Short Stories: 3 Walls That Might Be Hindering You

In A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf’s treatise on women and fiction, Mrs. Woolf lamented that, historically, women had to have both money and a room of their own in order to write – two resources that had been universally difficult, if not impossible, for women to attain back then. However, these days women (yes, yes and men, too) only need a computer and the time to write – oh, and a whole lot of confidence.

But how can authors get this boost of confidence if they’re discouraged about publishing to begin with? Easy: by deciding to publish their short stories instead.

The Blueberry Miller Files

When I made the decision to publish my first collection of shorts, The Blueberry Miller Files, this year (2011) , I was not prepared for the encouragement it would give me; that it would afford me the right to say, at last, I’m a published writer, and mean it.

Indeed, publishing a short story collection proved to be a much more viable path to publishing for me than a book might’ve been; mainly because it took less time to produce than a long, drawn out novel; and this shortened time period can be a natural morale booster to any struggling author.

Sadly, I often hear both men and women comment online that they hadn’t even thought about publishing their short stories.

Well, start thinking about it.

But, here are three potential “walls” that might be hindering you:

Waiting For Everything In Your Life To Be Perfect

Don’t wait for things to be perfect in your life before you decide to write and publish your short stories. As Ecclesiastes 11:4 says, “Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant.”

Forget the fact that you’re not oozing money right now, or that you work 40 hours a week and come home exhausted all the time; yes, these are legitimate problems that can hamper your ability to create, but please know that it doesn’t take a lot of money to publish a book anymore, especially not an e-book. And while you might be exhausted from other activities outside of writing, remind yourself how blessed you are just to be able to sit at a desk in your home or your apartment and simply create.

Consider this: Jane Austen (not a short story writer, mind you, but that’s beside the point), whose Pride and Prejudice has been re-written and re-adapted more than 100 times since she first published it back in 1813, had to write in a general setting room, with “all kinds of casual interruptions,” as her nephew later pointed out. She also had to hide the fact that she was writing from the servants, visitors, or anyone beyond her own family because writing was not something women were supposed to do.

You don’t have such basic obstacles as she did (then again, maybe some of you do!). But Jane might have marveled at how lucky you are to be able to write at will, even at your cramped kitchen table. So get to writing!

You Don’t Think Short Stories Don’t Sell

This is another reason I think authors aren’t publishing our shorter works, because there is the age-old stigma that short stories don’t sell.

Well, let me encourage you with this one simple fact: the self-published writer no longer has to worry about sales.
Don’t get me wrong. I know authors want to make a living just as much as the next person; and if you’re an indie author who is being published by a small press rather than self-published, Ok, low sales could prove to be an issue for your publisher.

But, for the indie and self-published author who is truly her own boss, you’re no longer in danger of being “dropped” because your groovy little short story collection only sold 50 copies. I’ll say it again: since the self-published author doesn’t have a publishing company breathing down her back to produce numbers, numbers, and more numbers, he or she can forget about sales for now and indulge in their inner artist. As a side note, I am not encouraging the publishing of junk; I’m as much of fan of great writing as an enemy of bad writing. Please, take into consideration things like creativity, innovation, grammar, editing and basic book formatting.

You Think No One Reads Short Stories Anymore

Ok. It’s true that we live in the post-MTV, Twitter-loving generation. People have short attention spans. But I say give them a good, short read and they might become one of your biggest fans. Indeed, I believe this decade will see a rebirth of the short story genre. There is no doubt in my mind that there’s an audience for this type of work and the creativity that comes with it.

In writing my own story collection, I got to play with different styles and ideas, and even different subject matters all in the same book, without fear of what some publisher might think.

Publishing my book via my own company gave me the freedom to be a black writer who writes about white characters (sometimes), a Christian author who refuses to use cursing in any of my stories (even though it might not “sound realistic” to some people), a humor writer who gets to explore the mind of a black Anglophile who adores Shakespeare a little too much, and a “Southern” observer who does something I never saw done in Gone with the Wind: let the slave holders speak with as much of a jacked-up dialect as the slaves themselves spoke with. It’s been fun, scary and exhilarating.

And I don’t regret a minute of it!

Related Posts:

Three Short Stories You Should be Reading Now


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Some notes about the HOST OF YAMINATODAY.COM – A. Yamina Collins

A. Yamina Collins is the author of the fantasy/romance novel The Last King, A modern-day love story about a young woman innocently caught in a war between two age-old nemesis: God, and immortal beings whose ancestors ate from the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden.

The Last King has already been in Amazon’s Top 100 Bestseller’s list in Fantasy, Sciencefiction, Women’s Fiction Literature and Christian Women’s Literature.

Twenty-eight year Emmy Hughes has never quite fit in—she’s six feet tall, dark-skinned, and daydreams of being Galadriel from Lord of the Rings. But when she is badly injured in a car accident that kills her mother, Emmy does not dream of fantastical worlds anymore—she just wants her shattered life to be normal again.

Unfortunately, normalcy is the last thing in store for her once she meets Lake George’s newest arrival, Dr. Gilead Knightly. Granted immortality from a line of people whose Great Ancestor marched into the Garden of Eden and ate from the Tree of Life, Gilead has been alive for centuries and has met everyone from Nubian kings to Napoleon.

But Gilead and his eccentric family are also hunted beings because God considers the Edenites’ possession of immortality to be theft. And for thousands of years He has dealt with their transgression by sending each of them a “Glitch” —an unsuspecting human meant to retrieve this stolen “property” of immortality and kill them off.

When Emmy discovers that she is Gilead’s Glitch, she is not only thrown into a world of immortals who eat bone marrow, panthers who read minds, and a family whose blood is made of pulsing gold, but she finds herself the target of Gilead’s vengeance: he must get rid of her before she gets rid of him.

Easier said than done. Because Glitches are not only an Edenite’s greatest threat—they’re also their greatest love.




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