Is it self-publishing or readers which is driving more and more writers to writing short stories?
I started thinking about this when I sat down to write a new short story for my newsletter (in which I always try to include a piece of a short story or a vignette–you can sign up for it here). It’s easy for me to write short stories in my Vallen world since it spans all of history and there are a lot of fun things within it that I can explore using whichever time period I feel like writing. So far I’ve got a story set in medieval times, a Shakespearean, one set around the time of Guttenberg, and this new one will be modern, set in the 1980s.
Writers are also writing a lot more short stories now to include in anthologies which have become very popular.
Traditional publishing houses have always put together anthologies of similar writers, but usually they included novellas, not short stories. Now you can find all sorts of anthologies of both short stories and novellas put together by the authors themselves (I’ve got short stories in three anthologies). But is this trend happening because writers want to write short stories and this is a good way to publish them or is it because readers are demanding more shorter stories to read? Perhaps a combination of both?
People just don’t have the time to read a whole novel any more, so we hear. They don’t have the attention span. I think that’s kind of ridiculous, personally, because no one is forcing readers to read an entire novel in one sitting. It’s just as easy to put in a book mark and then pick up the story again later as it is to finish a short story. But the point is, short stories and novellas are very popular with readers for whatever reason.
Personally, I love the new trend of authors writing prequels to their books in a short story or novella. From a writer’s point of view it gives you a publication which you can price low or put out for free to draw readers to your books. From a readers perspective, you get to learn more about the characters of the books and explore something which made them the person they are in the book which follows.
But it is self-publishing which has allowed this sort of thing to happen. No traditional publisher would have published a short story or novella just on its own. And they certainly wouldn’t have priced it at 99 cents or given it away for free. Self-published authors, on the other hand, are doing this all the time now, and I believe some traditionally published authors are beginning to do the same independent of their publishers.
So are we publishing all this short fiction because it’s easy to do so or because readers are gobbling it up? What do you think?
While you mull that over, I’ll get back to writing my short story, which will fill my need for something to put into my newsletter, provide a prequel to a book I plan on writing soon and be another entry in my solo anthology which I’ll put out as soon as I’ve got enough short stories to make a book–5000 words doing triple duty!