Selling Short Stories on Kindle – Increase Your Revenue (UPDATE)

selling short stories

Selling short stories is a job like no other. It isn’t as time-consuming and it’s quite profitable – here are all the reasons.

Today’s post is a short one but valuable. We explored the ways you can make money blogging recently (be sure to check it out if you haven’t already) but today we’ll focus more on earning money by actually writing.

As the cover photo indicates, you can’t really earn money selling a short story. Obvious reasons are the fact you can earn a 35% commission on every sale since you can’t really price it over $0.99. But, a good story goes a long way.

Note: segment Genres below was added.

Personal Point of View

If you haven’t published on Amazon yet you are an unknown author without a standing audience. Having a serious blog improves your odds immensely but the Amazon customers don’t know you yet.

A way to introduce yourself to all the potential readers and still earn money is by publishing short reads.

This is a great strategy many have implemented and it works. People do like short stories.

Even though short stories almost died as television entered homes, they are returning big time as we speak. Publishers would run away from you if you showed up with a collection. But, a brave group of magazines decided to hang in there. Now, they don’t pay as much as they used to, but they pay enough and are a great way to make a name of yourself.

Personally, I didn’t want to publish any of my novellas or the novel before making sure there will be at least a handful of people willing to read them. Thus I am about to publish a series of single short stories that introduce my Oaktown and its customs.

I’m not heading for the money though.

Start Selling Short Stories

Apart from the above reason, short stories are the best way to practice writing. But the better reason is: they don’t take as much time as novel to write.

Of course your goal is to write a novel and no one argues with that. However, to write a novel you’ll need a lot of practice. Even if you do it, you’ll need your name to be familiar to succeed.

Recently I’ve read about an author advising another author not to waste his good idea on a short story but to make it into a novel.

I’ve come across this story a few times, really. Everyone else reacted the same way I did.

How is it wasting? Do you really want to stretch your idea that far? If you sell a 10,000 words for $0.99 and it’s a great story everyone will buy it, borrow it in Kindle Unlimited and talk about it. Do you want to add unnecessary 90,000 words to it and sell it for $2.99? Does it make sense?

Selling Strategy

This is how it goes to increase the revenue for your  short stories and future published novels.

First, publish a story at $0.99. After a short period of time (a week or two) publish another one at the same price. If you are not comfortable with making it exclusive to Amazon be sure to publish it via Smashwords to iBooks, Barnes and Noble’s and all their partners.

Once you publish the second one start the process of making the first story permanently free. While that is going on (it takes time) prepare the third one.

Note: making a book/story free on Amazon isn’t exactly possible but there’s a way to do it. First you set the price, then publish on other platforms through Smashwords and make it free there. Go to your title on Amazon and click the link “Tell us about a lower price” and tell them. You can send an e-mail even to politely ask them to match the price. They are not obligated to do it but they will since their competitors are offering the title at a lower price, that is for free.

Another way to do free promotions is to enroll in Kindle Select. There you can run a promotion for a certain amount of days when the title is free. But don’t do it if you want to have a series of short stories and want the first one to remain free.

Also, don’t try price matching if you only want it to be free for a certain amount of time – for that use Kindle Select.

Now that you have three stories published write more and publish more.

Once you have ten to twelve short stories (or a certain word-count that you would like) and if the stories are similar in their theme or otherwise connected, you can publish them as a collection at a much lower price (audience wouldn’t have to pay for every story $0.99 but for the collection somewhere between $2.99 and $3.99 – depending on the success of the stories you can tweak the price). That way you are getting more and they can pay less.

Also, if you do sell them in a collection, be sure to add that piece of information in the description of your single short stories that are also in the collection. That way you’re not trying to trick anyone into buying the same stories twice.

Genres

There is not a lot one can write about in this form. The most popular genres for short stories that hook readers are actually erotica/romance and sci-fi/fantasy stories. Where erotica has a huge advantage and is far more popular among the readers of short stories.

There are no clear studies on which approach is better but authors experimented by themselves – the beauty of indie publishing when one is not in the hurry for revenue.

An author under a pen name of K. Matthews used to post reports after every move they’ve made. K. was earning thousands monthly from fifty to hundred books out. Alas, that was before Kindle Unlimited changed the rules of the game and started paying out based on the pages read rather than on the number of downloads.

Sci-fi and fantasy are a good genre in over than ten thousand words format, according to some authors who claim to have been successful with it.

Any of these really should be serialized to give readers a hook to stay with you. Always the first one must be free (if it’s not in KU) and the rest should be priced accordingly. For works in a niche prices go higher while you can price nothing over $2.99 for sci-fi that is 10,000 words long.

Other Notes

I do hope you found this useful. I’ll be experimenting with this the next couple of months. Sometime next week my short story Killing the Immortal will be out and I’ll report back with new pieces of advice.

On yet another note, the June is over and July is starting. A lot of exciting new posts are coming this way. We’ll explore in-depth the process of self-publishing, I’ll give you a huge list of ways to earn money writing and we have some great guest posts as well.

Keep writing (shorts)!

Author: Mladen Reljanović

Mladen Reljanović is the founder and lead writer at Writer to Writers. He is the author of Oaktown stories, senior student of communication and a pianist.

10 thoughts on “Selling Short Stories on Kindle – Increase Your Revenue (UPDATE)

  1. So I am assuming the process to upload a short story is the same as when you go to upload a novel, correct? If so, then I am going to do this with all those random stories I have laying around that don’t really fit a category. (Don’t worry; I will still honor our arrangement we made!)

    ~~~~~Steve

    1. Of course. Just upload them and upload the cover (you still need an interesting cover. Maybe even more so since it’s a short read). Even though Amazon doesn’t allow you to choose a ‘Short Reads’ category their algorithms figure it out and add in to the appropriate category based on the page count.
      Don’t worry, publish the majority on Amazon and if you have stories that you’d publish for free then put them here as well and definitely put a link to Amazon so we can find your stories 🙂

  2. I tried uploading a story and setting it to $0.99 last night, and the site would not let me do it. I kept getting the error that I had to set it to THEIR lowest suggested price, which was $3.59! Can you help me find a way around this? I don’t want to charge a novel price for a story that isn’t even 5000 words.

    1. There could only be two things that went wrong. Either you used a different currency (not US dollars) or you have set your preferred royalty to 70% and not 35%. Now, to sell a book for less than 2.99 you have to choose the royalty plan of 35%. I am so sorry I failed to mention this step no matter how many times I wrote about pricing.

      What you should do is set your royalty plan at 35% and make the price $0.99. If it’s a short story it will do much better for free (given it’s the first one). If you have a series be sure to have the first installment for free and others at $0.99.

What are your thoughts on this?