How To Write and Publish Short Story Fiction For Free Or Pretty Darn Close
Kim Isaac Greenblatt, copyright Oct 1 2008, all rights reserved. No portion of this article can be copied, reprinted or listed on an Internet web page without the express written consent of the author.
After a recent series of questions and comments where a reader said that he didn’t have enough money to self publish I thought that in this day and age, lack of money isn’t a good enough reason to not get your stories out to the public. Whether they are good enough or you are marketing them is information for another day’s post or page. If you do want to get your short fictional pieces out as a calling card to your abilities as a writer, I will show you a method that shouldn’t cost you a lot of money. Remember that short fictional pieces generally don’t sell well by themselves except in groups as part of an anthology or if you are trying to write for a magazine or web zine. At the end of this article I will use one of my stories as an illustration.
So here are some suggestions to get you going.
1. Do you already have a piece of fiction already written that you want to publish? No? Hmm. Check this out.
a) Make up your mind to sit down and write. Anything. Just get something down on paper, a document file, a piece of newspaper. It doesn’t matter. Just write. Set a deadline and goals for yourself.
Deadline: I will have one short story completed in one month.
Goals: I will spend 10 minutes a day for 30 days writing my short story. Pick the same time every day and make it your time to be creative. Be disciplined!
b) Stick to your goals. If you don’t make them because you are busy with school, taking care of your kids, etc. try again for up to one year. If you still haven’t written anything after one year, stop because you will probably never get around to writing anything. You had twelve chances and you just have other interests going on that supersede writing. You can walk away and we part as friends – no harm, no foul. Happens all the time.
If you still are set on writing, keep reading.
c) Things to make sure that are in your fictional piece and some suggestions:
1. Structure where there is a beginning, middle and an end. The story doesn’t have to be long, it just has to make sense.
2. Characters or a plot that has grab. By grab, something to get the reader to want to read it from beginning to end.
3. Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas, movie rights, or the millions you will make as a writer. It probably won’t happen right away. Right now, your biggest worry is can you interest one person on the planet to read your story for free. If you can get one person to read it, that is a great start.
4. You can always apply for a copyright to protect your work once it is published.
Still haven’t finished your story yet? Go ahead and write that great short fictional story that you wanted to. It is okay. I’ll wait.
2. Finished? Cool! Now go back and review it, rewrite it and quadruple check for spilling errors, I mean spelling errors, and other things that will turn off readers. Okay? Great.
3. Find either a free web host site or a low cost one and set up a web page/site to host your newly created, newly minted child of fiction. Registering a domain name costs $8-20. A web site with hosting can be picked up for $30 or so and up. There are free sites to you can use if don’t mind them throwing advertising on your web pages. It doesn’t have to cost much.
4. Upload your story to the Internet.
5. Tell your friends, submit links to it to editors if they are looking for stories for anthologies, etc.
Marketing is out of scope for this particular article but you can see the implementation process is easy. The actual creative part, the story writing is the hard part.
Ready for a real world example? Here we go.
I had an idea for a particular story arc for the Inappropriate Library series where there is a person who using one of the books from the Ancient Library tries to live forever and take his wealth with him. I haven’t finished the book length story for it but I had finished the character’s development and enough background to make an introduction by way of a short story. At the time, a web zine was also looking for short stories so I figured I would submit it. I did, I waited the three-four weeks and it was rejected. Happens all the time and no big deal. I could have sent it to other web zines but I didn’t want to lose opportunity time. I wanted to get my story out to there because I know that I will get readers. I went ahead and posted the story on my website. I’ve gotten some decent feedback. I’ve received invitations to submit stories to anthologies. There really isn’t a way to make a living with short story anthology work so most of the time I politely pass because I am too busy with non-fiction books and other things. It does prove though that you don’t need to spend money to get published or noticed.
Actual Time to write the short story – About two days, 48 hours, over the course of maybe a month. Cost: Sweat equity. I did this early in the morning before going to work or just before going to sleep.
Cost of page on Website: Zero since the website and pages were already prepaid for my other books.
The hardest part of the process is writing.
Hopefully I helped remove or shrink another obstacle keeping you from talking with your inner muse. Good luck!
Kim Isaac Greenblatt