View Full Version : Self Publishing Shorts

07-18-2018, 01:39 AM
Just wanted to know what experiences other people on this site might've had in self-publishing short stories and novellas/novellettes?

I've seen some self-published short story authors on other forums swear by ebooks and KDP, whereas others say there's no market at all for short stories on ebook platforms, including Kindle Unlimited.

I'm curious as I've a few shorts between 10,000 and 20,000 words I'd love to publish, but before jumping into such a big lake I'd love to know how said lake has treated anyone else here.

Al X.
07-18-2018, 03:42 AM
From the KDP forums the consensus says to publish them as a collection of shorts, e.g. say novel length, or 70,000 to 90,000 total. I'm sure there is a lot of guidance here, I am just jumping in because a personal friend of mine had had some success (with a vanity publisher, limited production run he paid for) for exactly that. Then again, he was a well known local news columnist.

07-18-2018, 03:50 AM
which genre?

07-18-2018, 06:09 AM
I've self-published short things in fantasy and science fiction. The collection (66K) and novella (24K) did well enough that I'd publish more at that length. The main collection issue was that I didn't have a good marketing angle. The novelette (8K) stopped selling after the initial few months. It was clear from comments I got that people felt it was too short, and were waiting for it to be included in a longer thing. I took it down and will roll it into the next collection. I wouldn't go shorter than around 20K again.

07-18-2018, 03:46 PM
Thanks for the advice, it's been really helpful.

which genre?

Romance, though not erotica - I hear erotica sells well in a shorter medium but sex scenes really aren't my forte to write or read, so I tend to give brief descriptions rather than jumping into the nitty-gritty of it all.

It was clear from comments I got that people felt it was too short, and were waiting for it to be included in a longer thing. I took it down and will roll it into the next collection. I wouldn't go shorter than around 20K again.

Ah OK, I am hoping this one will approach 20K words - the first edition on KDP only reached 1K (16 year old me was very naive, and wrote incredibly shorthand), and a good few years on I'm spying the potential this story has as either a novelette or short story of much more substantial length than the original. I know at 20K it might only ever sell for 99p/c, but I just want an avenue into using self-publishing before I put anything more substantial on there.

M. H. Lee
07-18-2018, 10:00 PM
You're far more likely to see success with shorts in the romance or erotica genres than outside of them. One challenge with shorts is marketing. Not a lot of the sites will take them and you're probably going to list them at 99 cents so nowhere to go with a sale price. That's why you can do better putting them into a collection.

I have one erom short story series that has eight titles in it that has made me $2,000+. That's for 58,000 words total. It's been more profitable than either of my novel series, but was also written towards an existing, hungry market which is key.

If you were writing SFF, I would advise submitting to the pro-paying markets first because you're very likely to make more money there than with self-publishing those shorts. (calculate 6 cents a word, I still haven't hit that on that erom series).

Long-term for self-publishing I'd advise trying to write novel-length rather than shorts. Also, for 20K+ I'd price at $2.99, but that's me. (I do have another Christmas novella that's 30K that has about 50 sales at $2.99)

Also, what story you tell and how you tell it is going to dictate whether readers think it's too long, too short, or just right. It's not about wordcount. (I've had 1,500 word shorts up that no one had a problem with, but I also recently had a review on a 65,000-word novel where the person thought it was too short.)

cool pop
07-18-2018, 10:41 PM
Most self-published authors say that because it does seem like Amazon readers don't care for shorts. Shorts seem to always get the worst reviews, snarkiest comments, or either just ignored on Amazon. Not saying you can't sell shorts there because it can depend on the genre. I did well on Amazon a few years back when I was releasing my interracial romance shorts but overall it's novellas and novels that will make the most money.

But, I enjoy writing shorts sometimes and a silver lining is that shorts can do well on other platforms. It's weird that shorts don't do as well on Amazon or in KU but they can do well on other platforms and you can price high there and sell. I sell my old shorts for 2.99 on other platforms and on Barnes and Noble (which is my second best seller to Amazon) I sell more shorts than full-lengths.

I wouldn't say there is no market for shorts in self-publishing but most SP authors only focus on Amazon. I agree with them on that. Just something about shorts doesn't appeal to a lot of Amazon readers it seems. On one hand, they feel like you should not be paid for a short story (I disagree) and on the other hand, readers in KU don't want shorts because they want their money's worth when they borrow books. They feel like they'll get more bang for their subscription if they can borrow bigger and more high-priced books.

If you want to focus on short stories I'd suggest going wide with them. In fact, when I write my next short I doubt I will even put it on Amazon.

ETA: Hold on. I just re-read your post. A book of 20,000 is not a short in the indie world. In the trade world, yes. But not in self-publishing. In self-publishing that length is considered a novella. Many authors do great self-publishing with novellas. E-publishing made the novella relevant again and it's an extremely popular length with ebook readers. This is not only a standard length for self-publishing but for e-presses as well. Most e-presses publish books in the range of 20,000 and even below. A short is something considered around 15,000 and under.

In self-publishing and ebooks, the lengths differ from trade publishers. In trade they consider 30,000 short but to self-publishing, some consider that a novel. I don't but many do.

So if that's the length of your books, depending on your genre, you should be fine on Amazon. If you write something like romance then 20,000 - 30,000 is the sweet spot in self-publishing and ebooks.