During the Killer Nashville Conference I attended, there were two sessions on short stories. The Friday session was titled: “Using Short Stories and Articles to Promote Your Novel.” Since I have two short stories I’ve been working on that are connected to novels I have had published, I was eager to attend this sessions. Members of the panel were Daco Auffenorde, C. Hope Clark, Debra Goldstein, Michael Guillebeau, and Robert Mangeot.
As the session’s title suggested, the panel members said magazine articles are one way to promote a book. First of all, the articles help with name recognition. Second,you can tie the article’s information to your book, and then give a site where the book can be purchased. (In my case, if I wrote an article on “What older woman need to know to protect themselves,” I could mention how Mary Harrington uses some of these methods in A Killer Past.)
Short stories can be used to promote a novel by having them use the same main characters or secondary characters as you have in a book. The short story might be a prequel or a type of afterword.
Members of the panel mentioned the two top short story magazines: Ellery Queen (which has a distribution of 25,000 to a 100,000 copies, depending on whom you ask) Ellery Queen Magazine and Alfred Hichcock magazine Alfred Hichcock Magazine
One thing stressed was that short stories are not easier to write but there are more on-line markets for them. It’s a way to get your name out. Gives you credibility. Duotrope is a site to check for short story markets for your piece. They list thousands of current fiction, poetry, and non-fiction markets. The site offers one month free. After that it’s $5 a month.
When sending out a short story, remember magazines have a voice. Read the magazine so you know what they’re looking for.
[dropshadowbox align=”none” effect=”lifted-both” width=”450px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]A friend of mine, many years ago, sent a romantic short story to Hustler Magazine without realizing what kind of magazine it was. Needless to say, she was rejected.[/dropshadowbox]
Some of the positive aspects of writing short stories are:
[dropshadowbox align=”none” effect=”lifted-both” width=”450px” height=”” background_color=”#ffffff” border_width=”1″ border_color=”#dddddd” ]They help with learning craft
They can build readership
They can lead to novels if you like the characters
Pitching articles and short stories prepares you for pitching novels.[/dropshadowbox]
However, be prepared to be rejected, so send out lots, and be flexible. Try different things. As with novels, have Beta readers for your short stories. Start with what you know and then expand. Write what you love. Write what you can get away with.
There was a question about contests and if it was worth it to enter. The response was that contests with entry fees were okay, but check how long the contest has been around, and never pay more than 5% of prize money.
The panel also mentioned that anthologies are another way to get your name out. Your short story, combined with those written by other writers (some, perhaps, better known than you), will expose your writing to more readers.
I’ll summarize the comments from the conference’s other panel on short stories in another blog. Meanwhile, I need to make some changes in the short story I’m now working on.