How To Make Money Off of Short Stories: 4 Comprehensive Ways

Are you a writer who is looking for ways to make money off of your work? If so, you may be interested in learning about short story publishing. Short stories can be a great way to make money online, and there are a number of different ways to publish them.

In this article, we will discuss how to make money off of short Stories and share our best tips. We will also provide tips for new writers who are looking to get their work published.

How To Make Money Off of Short Stories: 4 Comprehensive Ways

What’s a Short Story?

It is a genre of prose fictional narrative that’s designed to be read in a single setting. Short stories are shorter than a novel. Depending on the length, it can take you about 20 to 60 minutes to complete reading one story.

A typical short story has between 1,000 to 20,000 words. There are, however, shorter stories that are less than 1000 words called flash fiction, and even super short ones that are about 300 words or less referred to as microfiction.

Short stories are largely fictional, even though some authors write non-fiction. Other genres of short stories include science fiction, romance, erotica, fantasy, etc.

is there a market for short stories?

is there a market for short stories?

Yes, it’s possible to make money writing short stories.

As long as you have the knowledge and skills to create high-quality content, find buyers, or build an audience, you are good to go.

You should keep in mind, however, that selling short stories isn’t a get-rich-quick idea. You will need a lot of patience to grow an audience and get your name out there.

On that note, here are 4 ways you can make money through Short Stories.

Selling Short Stories to Magazines and Websites 

Selling Short Stories to Magazines and Websites 

There are a plethora of magazines and blogs where you can submit short stories for publishing. Even though some of these publications don’t pay writers as much, it won’t hurt adding them to your income streams. 

A publication pays an average of 1 cent per word, but you can earn as high as $1000 per story. Reader’s Digest, for instance, pays writers $100 for submitting 100 words or less of true stories about themselves. 

Besides money, selling short stories is a great means to building your name. These publications already have an existing audience you can leverage. It’s only that some of them charge a small commission for reading your story, meaning you won’t enjoy 100% profit. 

Since it’s impossible to list all, here are 10 sites that accept short stories. Do not be limited to these, though, do your research and find even more.

Where to Submit Short Stories

  1. Sun Magazine
  2. Reader’s Digest
  3. One Story
  4. Wattpad
  5. Daily Science Fiction 
  6. The New Yorker 
  7. American Short Fiction 
  8. Pen Pee
  9. The ThreePenny Review
  10. Flash Fiction Online

Self-publishing Short Stories

Self-publishing Short Stories

A Blog

Creating a blog for your stories is the best way, in my opinion, to earn. Reasons?

  • You can build a readership and earn off of them long-term. You can directly sell your stories to them or earn from placing ads on your blog.
  • Unlike submitting to other platforms, you will enjoy total control of your content. 
  • You’ll earn 100% of the profits—no sharing of commissions.

You don’t know how to create a blog? Worry not. Follow these steps.

Ebooks

Creating ebooks for your short fiction is another way you can earn money. And no, you don’t need to pay someone to do it for you.

Did you know there are platforms where you can self-publish ebooks free of charge? 

Try publishing on Amazon via their online KDP platform. Being a leading market, your work will be available for sale globally. You can also publish paperbacks and hardcover books with them for a small fee. If you want to learn more, we have written a detailed guide on how to sell short stories on Amazon.

Another great platform to self-publish is Smashwords. It has an advantage over the others in that you can easily publish and distribute to multiple retailers and libraries via them. Your work will also be available in a variety of formats, making it accessible to non-kindle readers worldwide. 

You will, however, have to part with a percentage of your book earnings here. Amazon pays 60% royalties, while Smashwords pays 85% if you sell from their store and 65% from other retailers.

Hardcover Books

You can also create hard copies of your short fiction and have them sold in online and physical bookshops. You will nonetheless need to do a lot of legwork promoting and distributing them. 

A good way to promote your books is through social media. Build a following on these platforms to which you can sell.

Entering Writing Contests

Entering Writing Contests

The suggestion of joining a writing competition for most writers can be scary but it is one of the best ways to earn money writing fiction online. You may not know where to begin, which contests to enter, what risks you’ll face, and whether you can handle rejection.

Fret not, of course, I’ve got you! 

Contests are a great way to showcase your work to the world. 

Besides the possibility of winning the prize money, you can get an opportunity to be published in literary journals and magazines. This will get your name out there, eventually opening doors to more opportunities.

Moreover, contests are an incredible way to build and sharpen your writing skills.

That said, I have put together 5 well-known writing contests and some tips you could use to help you win. Keep in mind that this list isn’t exhaustive. There are hundreds of writing competitions out there you can try besides these.

5 Reputable Fiction and Non-Fiction Writing Contests

The BBC

The BBC holds an annual short story contest dubbed BBC National Short Story Award. The National Short Story Award rewards winners with over $20,000. You will be needed to submit an English short story of 8,000 words maximum, online or by post. 


Dru Heinz Literature Prize

If you have a published collection of short fiction or have at least 3 short stories in literary journals or commercial magazines, then you are eligible for this contest. You’ll need to submit an unpublished manuscript of short stories of between 150 to 300 pages. 

This contest is held annually, with submissions done between 1st May and 30th June. You can win a cash prize of $15,000 as well as get published by the University of Pittsburgh Press. Your works will also get promoted nationwide.


Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prizes

Graywolf is a small press that holds annual competitions for both established and newbie writers. Each year they rotate between fiction and non-fiction genres. 

You’ll be required to submit an unfinished manuscript together with a detailed description of the work. The winner receives an advance of $20,000 and $2,000 to support the project to completion.


The Prose

If you are up for weekly challenges that can earn you between $100 and $200, try The Prose. You’ll be needed to submit a story between 150 to 500 words. Besides winning the prizes, these challenges are great to flex your writing muscle.

Be keen, however, to attempt the challenges posted by The Prose themselves and not from other Prosers. Otherwise, you won’t be in a position to win the cash. 


Anthology Short Story Award

This award is for everyone regardless of age or nationality. You’ll be eligible to win over a $500 cash prize and an opportunity to get published in their magazine if:

  1. You have an original short story that’s not yet published.
  2. The story is themed per the prompt. This year’s theme is ‘courage.’
  3. Your story is in English.

You can submit stories as many times as you want but at a small fee.


High-Paying Short Story Competitions

High-Paying Short Story Competitions
Example of Some of the Best Short Story Competitions going.

There are a number of high-paying short story competitions out there. Reedsy currently has over 100 of them listed and approved!

Tips to Help You Win Writing Contests

  • Implement the Basic Guidelines of Writing: As much as writing doesn’t require a degree, you need to know the basics. Learn correct spellings and punctuations, grammar, sentence structure, tenses, etc. Also, understand the basics of story construction.
  • Adhere to The Submission Rules: This is a no-brainer. Different contests have different rules, and some might seem fussy, but that shouldn’t be a reason for you to overlook them. Failing to follow the rules to the latter will automatically disqualify you.
  • Make Your Pieces Interesting: There’s nothing as boring as reading a flat, lifeless narrative. Learn to write in ways that can draw readers’ attention and emotions. Make them laugh, cry… or contemplate. Simply, keep them entertained.
  • Presentation Matters! Imagine being a judge who has to read over 10,000 badly handwritten words on dirty, worn out, and torn pieces of paper. Would you even have a sneak peek? Present your work in a clean, crisp manner. Showing professionalism is a selling point.
  • Diversify Your Options: There are so many writing contests that run throughout the year. Do not be limited. Enter as many contests as you can, even the small, seemingly insignificant ones. This will greatly improve your chances of winning.
  • Ghost Writing Short Stories on Freelancing Sites.

Yes, being a freelance writer working for clients on freelancing sites can make you some decent cash. You’ll, nevertheless, be needed to give up ownership rights and become a ghostwriter. 

There are several sites and job boards where you can land clients, the leading being Upwork, Fiverr, Pro Blogger, and Blogger Pro.

As a professional, you can make up to 1,000 dollars per story here. 

You can also find clients on social media platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn.

The only downside of being a ghostwriter is the anonymity factor. You won’t be able to make a name for yourself.

Here are more freelancing sites you can check out.

Finally…

I hope this post has answered your question and showed how you could sell short stories for money. You definitely won’t get rich overnight (except if you win all the contests), but with persistence and dedication to the craft, you’ll sooner or later be earning a 6 figure income.

I also suggest that you leverage all these sources simultaneously to maximize your income. All the best.

Check Out This Awesome Video On How To Make Money With Short Stories Online

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