View Full Version : Demand for flash fiction collections, evah?

03-08-2014, 08:33 AM
This isn't really a personal advice-seeking post, more just tossing my thoughts out here for general discussion...

Short stories are out, got it. However, they've been in before. The big time was decades ago but perhaps somewhat of a comeback in the eighties?

Flash fiction seems to me to have become wildly popular in the magazines but perhaps I just notice it more because I write it and that's not accurate. Also, I get why many people prefer to buy an anthology (many authors) rather than a collection by one relatively unknown author. I do too, because I feel like there are likely to be more that I like when many voices are included.

However, it seems readers are thought to particularly not want flash collections by one author, even more than they don't want short story collections by one author (unless already well known). I am wondering why.

I'm not crazy about the common current, rather insulting, saying that people have developed flea-like attention spans. If anything, I'd say people are busier now. They also can be choosier now, with all the other easily accessible forms of entertainment competing with books. Still, it seems flash fiction would fit right in, quick little bites of fiction. So, why doesn't it?

Anyone see any signs that flash fiction, now so popular in magazines, will expand to also become more popular in collections? Or any idea why it's not?

03-08-2014, 11:42 AM
I don't think the average reader views flash fiction differently to short fiction. That is to say, I don't think there are special reasons why they wouldn't buy a flash fiction collection as opposed to a short fiction collection. The issue is the average reader doesn't buy many, or any, short fiction collections of any variety.

Though anthologies do tend to do better than collections, they're still not that popular for the most part.

Reasons are likely to vary, but a common one I've seen is the view that a novel is a better long term investment, as the reader gets to stay with the character for a whole novel (or more if it's a series). Whereas with shorts they might like a few, but hate others. So rather than wanting shorter and shorter because they're busy, readers are tending to be more selective about what they use up their time to read.

Whatever the reasons, I don't see it changing anytime soon. Your best bet for a flash fiction collection is to target short fiction readers, because it's not a different audience.

03-09-2014, 12:49 AM
Most of the readers who've bought my short story collection end up asking, "So, when are you going to write a novel?"

There is a market for short fiction collections, but it's very small compared to most of the hot genre markets. Or possibly even lukewarm genre markets...

03-09-2014, 01:19 AM
I wouldn't buy a flash fiction collection. Why? I would get tired of 250 or more, one page stories in which most are incomplete in world and character building.

Reading a few is Ok, but a whole book might get tedious, but that is just my opinion.

03-09-2014, 01:25 AM
Short stories are out, got it.

Really? I sold 15 pro-rate stories last year, and have sold 4 already this year.

Added to that, in the past 3 years I've placed 3 collections with good genre publishers, and have another two lined up to get published this year.

If this is short stories being 'out' then long may it continue.

03-09-2014, 04:19 AM
Thanks, everyone so far.

Willie, your story collections are SFF?

Yeah, Thothguard, that's pretty much the buzz I hear about flash collections. I love them, personally, but they don't seem to have caught on as collections like they have in the litmags.

Bombay, your collection has done pretty well, hasn't it? It's not flash, right?

Polenth and Bombay, did you get your stories published individually before publishing them as a collection?

03-11-2014, 03:58 AM
Good thoughts, Willie, and congrats.

I read short stories and flash in magazines, ezines, anthologies and single-author collections, weirdo that I am. If they're 'out' I missed the newsflash.

I'm new to writing flash and microfiction, aside from a few experiments in college, yet my recent sales are all those short lengths.