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If you’ve written (and published in literary journals) enough short stories that you now feel ready to publish a collection, Writer’s Relief can lead you in the right direction on the path to success. We know some great new routes that will make the bumpy road to publishing your collection a lot smoother! Check out these five ways to publish a short story collection: and surprisingly—why you might want to wait.
Great Ways To Get Your Short Stories Published In A Collection
Publish with a traditional, mainstream publisher. Trying to secure literary agent representation—and then landing a great book deal with a paying traditional publisher—is the path writers take when they’re hoping for national distribution and a big advance. But of all the ways to publish a short story collection, this one might be the most difficult. Traditional publishers are often reluctant to work with collections of short stories—unless they have really compelling reasons to say yes.
HOW WE CAN HELP: Learn more about how to write a query letter for a short story collection.
Publish with an independent press. Small and independent publishers are the backbone of short story publishing in the modern marketplace. Some indie publishers are able to offer their writers great distribution, nice paychecks, exceptional support, and quality production—but sales figures at independent presses usually aren’t very high. Still, unlike traditional publishing houses, many indie presses are willing to consider short story collections from unagented writers.
HOW WE CAN HELP: Learn more about how to approach an independent publisher with your short story collection.
Win a short story collection writing contest. Another way writers can try to get their short story collections published is to enter writing contests. Contest winners not only score a publisher for their collections, they sometimes get prize money—and some free copies of the story collection too! Many organizations—from publishers to writers groups to literary magazines—regularly hold contests for short story collections. Some contests are quite competitive and prestigious; others are great for new writers who want to break into the short story market.
HOW WE CAN HELP: Find a fantastic list of short story writing contests right here!
Self-publish. If you’ve got an entrepreneurial spirit, curiosity, and an unshakable belief in your writing, then self-publishing is for you! Self-publishing has never been easier or less expensive. Plus, with the right combination of writing talent and marketing chops, your short story collection just might find an appreciative audience.
HOW WE CAN HELP: Learn what you need to know about self-publishing your short story collection.
Why You Should Wait—The Surprising Advantages Of Publishing Your Collection One Story At A Time
Though it may seem like publishing a neatly bound collection of your finest work is a best-case scenario for your career as a short story writer, you might actually be better served in the long run by publishing your stories individually. Literary magazine publication credits—both online and in print—could expand your reputation as a writer in ways that binding your short stories into a book might not.
The benefits of publishing your short stories individually in literary journals and magazines:
Increased exposure. When your stories appear in multiple venues, your writing is exposed to diverse audiences. And the more people you have reading your writing, the bigger your reputation as a writer becomes. But if you collect all your stories into a single book, you limit your reach.
Literary agent scouting. Agents regularly read through literary magazines searching for new talent. Getting your short stories published in literary magazines isn’t just great for building your fan base—it puts you in the right place to impress publishing pros. And that could lead to a paying book deal with a major publisher.
More networking opportunities. Working with the staff of a literary journal expands your career horizons in unforeseeable ways. Some of the short story writers who are Writer’s Relief clients have been invited to conferences and speaking engagements because of stories they had published in literary magazines.
Increased likelihood that a major publisher will offer you a paying book deal. A short story collection is often a tough sell to big national publishers. The writers who are most likely to score a paying book deal are usually those who have already built up their reputations via literary magazine publications.
The opportunity to be nominated for a well-known award. Literary magazine editors routinely nominate for major literary awards; even if you don’t win, scoring a nomination for the Pushcart Prize anthology or Best of the Web award is worth bragging about—and will definitely make literary agents sit up and take notice.
HOW WE CAN HELP: Want help publishing your short stories in literary journals before approaching publishers or publishing the collection yourself? Writer’s Relief has helped our clients get over 19,000 acceptances since 1994. We just might be able to help you too! Send your short stories to our Review Board and let’s see if we would be a good fit for a partnership to further your publishing career!
The Danger Of Publishing Your Whole Collection At Once
Most literary magazine editors do not consider previously published writing for publication. So if you publish (or self-publish) your collection, very few literary journal editors will be interested in publishing any of the pieces from your book.
Short stories that have appeared anywhere—in print, online, or in a collection—are generally considered previously published and not eligible for publication in most literary journals. Most editors even consider works published on social media previously published.
That said, stories published in literary magazines, one at a time, ARE usually eligible for publication in a collection.
If you want to see your short stories published in literary journals, pursue literary magazine publication before you create a book of short stories. The opportunity to publish your short story collection will wait patiently until you’re ready!
Learn more about what is considered previously published writing.
Question: What do you think is the best path to publishing a short story collection?