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How and Where to Publish Short Stories Online

Information, advice and resources for anyone wanting to earn money publishing short stories online.

Different Ideas For Where To Publish Short Stories Online

The internet offers a huge range of opportunities for would be writers to publish their short story fiction online. In some cases this may simply mean giving your work away for free in order to gain exposure and credits that will help you to build a readership and will look good in your author bio when you are contacting traditional publishers or even when you are publishing your work through other online avenues. But in many cases you can also make money, in some cases very good money, from online publishing of short stories.

Here are some of the main ways that short fiction authors use to publish their work on the internet:

  • Revenue Sharing Websites
  • Blogs and Personal Websites
  • Ezines
  • Contests
  • Up-Front Paying Websites
  • E-Books
  • POD (Print On Demand) Book Sites

Each method has its advantages and disadvantages, which I will explain more about below (apart from ezine publishing, which I know nothing about except that people do it).

Publishing Short Fiction On Revenue Sharing Websites

What Is A Revenue Sharing Website?

Short answer: This is. Longer Answer: It is a website where anyone can create a free account, create pages with their own writing on, and share the advertising revenue which their pages create.

Pros

Anyones can publish their work instantly, as long as it doesn’t break the rules of the site which you are publishing on (generally the rules are only there to read out spam created purely for marketing and the very low quality content with poor English). Often they also have a large number of visitors who could then find their way to your work from other parts of the site, which means that you can start getting readers and earning money from your writing quite quickly. You will also be able to get to know other writers from most of these sites, and get valuable advice and feedback on your work.

Cons

This kind of site often isn’t set up in a good way for fiction – they are really best for people who write non-fiction. This means that although you may start getting readers from day one for all of the stories you wish to publish, you probably won’t get a huge number, and some may only be glancing out of curiosity. Also the pay per click advertising which usually generates the revenue on these sites doesn’t work so well with fiction as it does for factual articles, so you probably will not earn much per reader either, and you may have to wait quite a while for a pay out.

Creating Your Own Blog Or Website

Isn’t That Really Technical And Difficult?

No. Of course there will be many things to learn along the way, and the more you learn the better and more successful your website would be, but anyone can do it. You need no technical knoweldge – just buy a domain name and get a web hosting account, and if you use a half-decent hosting company you can then install a website builder, a script or a content management system with just a couple of click and get a simple admin area which you can easily use to create a website. You can also get free themes to get the look and feel you want, and plug ins or modules to add extra functions.

Pros

  • Anyone can do it, and you can publish anything you want as long as its not actualy illegal
  • You get all of the money that your content earns, and you get complete control of the advertising
  • You also get complete control of everything else – you are only limited by your own imagination and skills.
  • It is a great way to build a presence as a writer and get your name remembered, and it also appears more presitigous if you have your own website with all your own branding.
  • Even if you use any of the other methods here, and even if you don’t want to publish any of your writing like this, you can still use a personal site to connect all the different parts of your online presence and to turn casual readers of free online content into regular subscribers or fans willing to buy your published works – including self-published works which I will say more about later.

Cons

  • The flip side of having complete control is you have complete responsibility – so it is more work to create and maintain your own site than to just hand over your work to a publisher.
  • You also have to market your site – you won’t get any visitors unless you do at leat some marketing, which means more work, more things to learn about, and which some people don’t enjoy doing.
  • Its not expensive to do if you do it yourself rather than hiring a web designer – $10 per year for a domain and just a few dollars per month for a basic hosting account. And even if you hire a designer it might just be a couple of hundred dollars. But other methods are free so the fact that there is a cost probably counts as a con.

Contests

Pros

  • There are loads of writing competitions being run all the time and they are not diffictul to find.
  • Contests often have themes, and this can be inspiring and give you a push forwards if you are finding it hard to think of new ideas for short stories.
  • Winning prizes, even runners up prizes, can get you recognition from people in the industry and looks very good in your author bio and letters to publishers, especially if it is a big competition being run by an organization that many people will have heard of

Cons

  • Some competitions charge entry fees, and actually make all or most of their profit from this. So you are more likley to lose rather than make money.
  • Many others have low value prizes and may not get you much exposure except from other entrants, so the benefits may be small for these contests even if you do win.
  • The more valuable the prizes and more prestigious the competition the more people will enter and the more quality writers there will be to compete against, so winning a big competition is very difficult.

An Example Of A Contest

Websites That Pay Cash Up Front For Short Stories

This is basically the equivalent of the old short story print magazine markets, which still do exist and are still going strong in many areas, but this is the modern incarnation of the same tyype of thing. They may pay you per word to publish your work, or they may have a set rate per story.

Pros

  • You are probably more likely to get a reasonable amount of money from your work and you know exactly what that will be in advance, so you can decide whether it is worth giving away your story for or not.
  • If they are willing to pay you up front for our work then they are obviously confident that they can get readers for it. Hopefully this will mean some good exposure for you as the author.

Cons

  • They may take a while to give you an answer, and may not accept simultaneous submissions or previously published work, meaning that you may end up spending ages with your stories just lying around not being published as you find people that are willing to pay for them

A Couple Of Sites You Can Try

E-Book And Print On Demand Publishing

What is POD or Print-On-Demand Publishing?

Print on Demand means that you create a blueprint for creating a printed book which is held with the print on demand website / company, but you don’t print out loads of copies in advance. Instead you offer it for sale online, and then the POD company just print out an individual copy for each person who buys one after they make the purchase.

Pros

  • Anyone can do it, and you can publish ebooks for any platform – Amazon Kindle, Apple iBookstore, PDF and all the rest as well as soft cover, hardback and pretty much any size of printed book you want.
  • If you want to, you can start selling books without paying anything up front.
  • If people pay to buy your stories you obviously make more money from them than if they read it for free, meaning this is more profitable than most or all of the other methods I’ve written about here.

Cons

  • Printing books individually costs more than printing a large batch in advance, meaning less profit compared to that.
  • If you want to get a really good number of sales you may need to get a professionally designed cover, which means that there can be a cost to this method. Also formatting your work well may prove difficult (although it probably won’t be too hard) so some people also end up paying for people to do this for them.
  • Although you may get some sales from just publishing and then sitting back to see what happens, especially if your name is known and you have build a reputation, you will probably have to get yourself involved in marketing to get a large number of sales.
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