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Thread: selling fiction

  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW
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    selling fiction

    Is selling flash fiction easier than selling full-length short stories? And by selling I mean getting paid not just publication.

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    Benefactor Member alexshvartsman's Avatar
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    In my experience it's about as difficult, if you want to sell to good markets. My advice would be not to worry about the length of the story. Write the story you want to tell and then send it to the markets that accept that length.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by gettingby View Post
    Is selling flash fiction easier than selling full-length short stories? And by selling I mean getting paid not just publication.
    The two words bolded above are in direction contradiction with one another. No relationship exists between them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gettingby View Post
    Is selling flash fiction easier than selling full-length short stories? And by selling I mean getting paid not just publication.
    In some ways, I think yes: if a market is looking specifically for flash fiction, they're likely to get fewer submissions than if they were looking for standard-length short stories with the same theme/genre/whatever, because only a subpopulation of short story writers write flash. But I think it's harder to write a good, sellable flash story than it is a standard short, so it's a bit of a toss-up.

  5. #5
    Um, it's easier if you're better at writing flash than regular shorts. If not, then no.
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    backstab x 2! ajoker's Avatar
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    You can, presumably, write more flash fiction stories and subsequently have more out on submission. Writing for a year, say, you could have one novel, or 12 short stories, or 50 flash fiction stories.

    In that respect, it would seem easier from a selling point of view (but as far as I know there aren't close to 50 places that are buying flash fiction).

  7. #7
    but appreciated anyway... Unimportant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MJNL View Post
    Um, it's easier if you're better at writing flash than regular shorts. If not, then no.
    True. I worded it badly. It's harder for the average writer to write flash. Or, to put it another way, I think (but have no data to cite) that there are more good standard-short-story writers than there are good flash-fiction writers. But as has also been noted, there aren't shedloads of good markets for flash.

    Writing flash is a great way to teach yourself to write tightly, though!

  8. #8
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    Selling a story isn't hard if it's fantastic.

    Writing a fantastic story is hard.
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  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Unimportant View Post
    True. I worded it badly. It's harder for the average writer to write flash. Or, to put it another way, I think (but have no data to cite) that there are more good standard-short-story writers than there are good flash-fiction writers. But as has also been noted, there aren't shedloads of good markets for flash.

    Writing flash is a great way to teach yourself to write tightly, though!
    Oh, you worded it fine. I was addressing the OP (shoulda used the quote button!).

    And writing flash is definitely a good exercise for learning to write pithy. Something every short story writer should try, I think. :-)
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    Quote Originally Posted by gettingby View Post
    Is selling flash fiction easier than selling full-length short stories? And by selling I mean getting paid not just publication.
    In SFF, more of the pro paying markets want longer fiction than want flash. So in an overall statistical way, more people are going to hit a pro sale with a longer story than with flash fiction.

    That doesn't mean it's going to be easier or harder for you.
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  11. #11
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    I write very little flash fiction because not many of the markets I sell to use flash. Flash is a sort of specialized niche. Having said this, I have sold a few pieces of flash over the years.

    I'm not sure about easier/harder, but a lot changes for me as the stories get shorter. I'm fine at five hundred words and up, but I once sold a one hundred word short story, and that one was very, very tough to get right.

    But I think a good short story is a good short story, and for me, at last, length doesn't change the elements I want in a story, it just changes how brief I have to make each of the elements.

  12. #12
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    I wrote a flash story in under an hour and sent it off to a pro-paying flash market to see for myself if it is any easier to sell.

    ajoker- You can have a lot more than 12 full-length short stories in a year. I write one a week so that means I will have 52 in a year, maybe more.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gettingby View Post
    I wrote a flash story in under an hour and sent it off to a pro-paying flash market to see for myself if it is any easier to sell.

    ajoker- You can have a lot more than 12 full-length short stories in a year. I write one a week so that means I will have 52 in a year, maybe more.
    Impressive! It usually takes me a month per story, but I hope it was clear that I was saying that the shorter the story, the more you can write of them.

  14. #14
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    One of the advantages of some flash fiction markets is that they allow multiple submissions, which means that you can sometimes submit up to three stories within a cycle. You will have to check the individual submission guidelines of your intended market, though. Obviously, three stories gives you a slightly greater probability of making a sale than one, but if the payscale is based on wordcount it will be less than for a full length short story. In a way, it is like hedging your bets, but for a slightly smaller return.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ajoker View Post
    You can, presumably, write more flash fiction stories and subsequently have more out on submission. Writing for a year, say, you could have one novel, or 12 short stories, or 50 flash fiction stories.

    In that respect, it would seem easier from a selling point of view (but as far as I know there aren't close to 50 places that are buying flash fiction).
    Or twelve novels, or a hundred short stories, or three flash fiction pieces.

    Shorter does not always mean faster, and certainly doesn't mean better. I know writers who can write a good novel faster than they can write a good short story.

    Now, I've sold quite a few short stories that I wrote in five hours or less, and novels that took less than a month to write, but I've also worked my rear end off, and spent ten days, trying to make something very short good enough to sell.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by gettingby View Post
    Is selling flash fiction easier than selling full-length short stories? And by selling I mean getting paid not just publication.
    I think the real question is, is it harder or easier for you to WRITE publishable flash or longer short stories?
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  17. #17
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    Flash can take much longer to write, yeah. It would take me forever to write a brilliant poem for the same reason flash isn't necessarily fast for me to do. Choosing each word well matters much more the shorter you go.
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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamesaritchie View Post
    Or twelve novels, or a hundred short stories, or three flash fiction pieces.

    Shorter does not always mean faster, and certainly doesn't mean better. I know writers who can write a good novel faster than they can write a good short story.

    Now, I've sold quite a few short stories that I wrote in five hours or less, and novels that took less than a month to write, but I've also worked my rear end off, and spent ten days, trying to make something very short good enough to sell.
    I wasn't saying it was better. I was saying it was faster, and I think in general it is. For most people, writing a short story will take less time than writing a novel. There will be exceptions, but 8000-20,000 words in general should take less time to write than 80,000-100,000.

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by ajoker View Post
    I wasn't saying it was better. I was saying it was faster, and I think in general it is. For most people, writing a short story will take less time than writing a novel. There will be exceptions, but 8000-20,000 words in general should take less time to write than 80,000-100,000.
    Sure, it can, but that's one of the biggest problems with writing short stories. I firmly believe a lot of writers write short stories because it is usually much faster than writing a novel.

    But I think there's also the perception that shorter is easier, and it isn't. It's one heck of a lot harder to writer a salable short story than it is to write a salable novel.

    On top of which, the competition is far tougher in the short story arena, and good, paying slots are rarer.

    Good short stories can take a while to write, and you may have to write a hundred before you even begin to match the same level many achieve with a first novel.

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