Most people would agree. Short stories and novels are very different kinds of stories. Short stories must be simple because there isn’t enough room to develop a back story or to have change-overs. A short story is a short ride. If there is a twist, it’s at the end and creates the ending.
Most of the time, I leave collections of short stories in the book store. The only exception is when I’ve read a lot of novels by the same author. A writer’s short stories are rarely as good as their books. Louis L’amour’s short stories are horrible. Steven King’s short stories are okay. Fyodor Dostoevsky’s short stories are as good as his books. All three authors write great books. Their short stories are a different story. That leads to the question…
Should You Write Short Stories to Promote Your Book?
I’m not alone with the problem of evaluating my own work. Sure, the stories I’ve written and like best are also the best received. I can understand the relative quality of my short stories compared to each other. But, I have no idea about their absolute value.
If your short stories are as good as your books or are okay, no problem. What if your short stories suck compared to your books?
You Should Share Your Short Stories
There are several reasons you should share your short stories.
One thing I’ve noticed is I never find I enjoy an author’s short stories and hate their books. Most people reading your short stories will have had this same kind of experience. An author’s longer stories are always better than their shorter ones. The more short stories you write, the more you reveal the quality of your novels.
Another reason to put out lots of short stories is the writing practice. Novels are full of short stories even though they don’t always wrap up. The more short stories you write, the more ways you will learn to tell the stories and the more ways you will learn to bring them to a conclusion.
One more advantage of publishing your short stories is the feedback. Whether it’s print or online, readers will react to the extremes. If they love it or hate it, you’ll hear something back.
How Can Short Stories Promote Your Novel?
First, everything you publish gets your name out there. If it’s your worst work, it may not help much. But your worst is still better than none at all. There is no such thing as bad publicity. If someone hates one of your short stories and spreads the word, others will come to see if you truly suck.
Even your worst short stories should be okay if you are a good writer. We all have our off days. For example, check out my 400 word short story Crackhead Karl and the Garbage Disposal. It’s experimental and most readers would say the experiment failed. That’s how we find out what doesn’t work.
(An example of my short fiction that succeeded is Chickens of the Apocalypse.)
The second way your short stories promote your novel is by giving readers a taste of the novel. When you use the setting of the novel you’ll be keeping readers in the dark on both characters and story. Write something in the same genre as your book and you’re giving them some idea what the book will be like. That’s why many of my short stories involve crime.
The strongest way to promote your novel with short stories is by writing some using the main characters in the novel. There are limits to what you can do with this. If Billy Ray is revealed as a bicycle thief in the novel, you won’t want to write a short story about him as a bicycle thief. But, you could write a story about Chad the bicycle thief in the same setting as the novel and with a character very similar to Billy Ray’s.
My vote on short stories is in. I’m in favor of writing them. How do you feel about writing short stories? Is it good practice or a waste of time?
Article by Ivan Izo.