Of course, it may be authors reading this will already have thought about writing short stories, nevertheless, there remain many who do not or have never considered the idea. This article will consider some of the benefits of the short story form.
To prevent this becoming too unwieldy we will launch straight in. The following is not intended to be an exhaustive exposition on the subject but has simply been designed to provide authors with a few ideas for their consideration. The order in which the topics appear implies no preference or importance of one over the other: this is merely a rummage through possible benefits.
Advice from both professional and lay personnel often suggests authors should have as large a catalogue of books as possible. They consider the variety and presence of so many will help gain the attention of readers. If they see the author’s name crop up time and again they will probably be more inclined to take a chance on a book by them.
Undoubtedly authors themselves will feel hesitant about spending say £/$ 6.99 on a book by an unknown author whereas £/$ 0.99 is, for most, neither here nor there. How much more is this true for a reader. Short stories, by nature, are exactly that, ‘short’ and therefore attract a lower price tag. Many readers will consequently be prepared to take the risk if the blurb/description engages them.
It is an acknowledged fact, since the advent of the internet and portable devices, many people now simply scan through material. It is also accepted, probably for the same reasons, attention spans are much shorter than they used to be. Most short stories may be read in one sitting and, if desired, nay be scanned more easily.
Over recent years surveys have made clear an increasing number of people prefer to use a smartphone; tablet; or e-reader for reading. In truth, as may be witnessed on a daily basis, many appear to be permanently attached to the device, conducting all their activities through them. Whatever a person’s opinion of this, it is a fact and one authors should take into account. Short stories are particularly suited to these means of reading. Of course, there are also those who will read full length books on these devices.
Authors are constantly seeking ways to get their name into the public eye. As mentioned under Price Range above, readers may not be willing to pay out for a full length book. Beside the price a short story also has the advantage of introducing a reader to the author’s style and content. And, naturally, as already stated an expanding catalogue will help.
While stuck in unattractive waiting rooms or undertaking a short commute, people enjoy a distraction or something to occupy their mind. Unless already into it they, more than likely, will not feel up to a full length read. On the other hand a short story will meet their need. Where an author has a selection of short stories available they should ensure they promote them by one means or another, without spamming, so they are constantly to the forefront of readers’ minds: they are more likely to consider them when they find themselves in need of a short read.
Every tale, whatever its length, will have some sort of backstory(s) within it. Some may be drawn out in the book while others remain in the background. These form a great basis for subsequent short stories as also do character developments. The author’s existing fans will undoubtedly be intrigued and interested to read more of what they have already enjoyed but these also have the potential to introduce the author to new readers. Naturally, the author needs to ensure the short story is readable as a standalone without the requirement for a reader to have read the book from which it is taken first.
Whether by the medium of television, video, online, magazine or book, serialisation has become very popular at least that is what those who conduct audience surveys are suggesting. Many authors acknowledge this fact and consistently write in serialisation format (full length books included). Short stories certainly lend themselves to this format.
Short Stories are also an excellent means for authors to try out new concepts, ideas and characters and to receive a consensus from readers. Naturally, existing followers and readers will be interested but it would also be good to hear from those who have not encountered the author previously.
Naturally, the above is not conclusive. There are other advantages an author may consider. For example: magazine editors frequently seek new material for their publication, including short stories. If chosen and published, the author will gain considerably increased exposure. There are also various writing competitions for short works. No doubt those reading this will be able to suggest other ideas and examples.
Short stories, in the modern digital world, are definitely a format authors should consider. The potential for attracting/obtaining new readers is wide open.
One word of warning: Short stories are not an easy cop-out. By very virtue of their shortness, they are difficult to write. In a full length book the author has unlimited space to build the story, world, scenarios and to develop the characters. In a short story this has to be done concisely while maintaining crispness and relevance.