Thursday, May 25, 2006

Story-to-Blog III

Before you publish a story on your blog or online, think about looking for a paying market for it and sending out some queries and submissions. Hunt around and bookmark places like RedInkWorks.com's Short Story Markets page, which has a ton of resource lists and market links, as do specific genre market sites like Ralan Conley's site for SF/F writers. Get into the habit of subbing a new market at least once or twice a month. Unless you're a Name, there isn't a lot of money to be made selling one short story, but sell five or ten of them a year and it starts to add up.

As for the stories for which you can't find a market, giving them away is better than letting them sit and gather dust. For one thing, readers really like free reads. I discovered this a few years back when I began posting an unpublished story on my old web site every month. As a gift to my readers each winter I'd make an e-book of the free stories from the entire year, throw in a couple I hadn't posted online, and give that away. At first I thought of it as an interesting way to promote my work, but it turned out to be much more than that for me.

For those of you who are not yet in print, some editors and agents are reading blogs these days to look for fresh voices. This is not to say that you'll get a book offer a day after you post a free story, but it's not unheard of for an interested editor to contact a blogger to see what else you've got.

You also can learn something in the process of writing short stories for your readers and getting feedback from them. A dozen of the stories I gave away on my web site eventually grew into or inspired new novels, which I turned around and sold to major publishers. The Darkyn novels, which are now my bestselling series to date, are based on three of those old freebie short stories.

If you're still looking for a way to post stories online and link or promote them from your weblog, and you don't care for anything I've suggested so far, you may consider using one of the story web sites like FreeStoriesCenter.com to act as your host, and then link to it from your blog. Before you use an outside host, make sure that you still retain all rights to your story, and the host is not profiting by selling subscriptions or downloads of your work. Free should really mean free.

17 comments:

  1. Sheila, you may check this out. Some scam agent has shot herself in the foot with a big gun. :)

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  2. These posts of yours are very informative. Thanks.

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  3. I've had over twenty of my short stories up on my old blog (The Twisted Mind Emporium) for a year . . .

    No takers . . .

    Two things. Either they suck (a possibility) or nobody ever read my blog except relatives and friends (none of which are editors dying for new talent).

    Still, they are out there in cyberspace, and they are free.

    I like the e-book idea as a download - must look into this. I think I can create PDF files from my Movie Magic Screenwriter program.

    Great posts. Thanks.

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  4. I loved the stories you had up at sff.net

    I read every one of them, saved most of them on CD. I remember Cyprien's story from there.

    I keep telling myself I need to do a free story, but then whatever i'm planning ends up getting more complex and I decide to sell it instead. i'm sorta greedy....

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  5. I also have Market Finder. It's currently best suited for LJ users, but I'm working on developing a community for it that will be less LJ specific. :)

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  6. Thanks for this series of posts. I've been trying to decide what to do with a couple of shorts. So the timing is excellent.

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  7. Paul said, " or nobody ever read my blog except relatives and friends (none of which are editors dying for new talent)."

    While I'm relieved that I'm not alone in being the owner of a hitless blog, what's the best way to cure that problem; other than to quit looking at the stat counter every day and just get on with the business of writing?!

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  8. Jill Terry said,"Quit looking at the stat counter every day and just get on with...writing."

    Stat counter? What stat counter? Where do I get a stat counter?

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  9. Ditto the question about stat counters.

    Kinda relieved mine is not the only hitless blog out there lol. I don't actually mind being hitless though...it certainly renders my blog useless as a promotional tool but having a blog has helped me learn to organize my thoughts in a more rational manner. And vastly improved my IT skills. And now that I have a place to air my more ridiculous ideas, I talk less to myself in public (which ought to make my mum happy lol).

    Anyway, thanks for the useful info, Sheila. And I loved all the stories you put up.

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  10. Blogger has some info on hit counters here: http://help.blogger.com/bin/answer.py?answer=761&query=stats%20counter&topic=0&type=f

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  11. How strange. Last week I sent some query letters out to some homesteading magazines. No takers. So the other day I started a blog on the subject. And then you pop up with the subject of blogs and your stories. Of course this blog isn't about my short stories, though they are stories, just more in a first person article form. I am hoping to get someone’s attention so I can start making some money with my writing.

    Thank you for the info on how to post short stories.

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  12. GREAT ADVICE!

    I my case, I wrote then created a short e-book as an unpublished writer. I made a nice looking cover and formatted it professionally. Made some announcements on a few of the writer lists I am on (the ones where I actively participate, etc)-- and got some great feedback.

    Did it increase my stats? Not really. Did it snag me an agent? Not directly--BUT WHAT IT DID DO, was when I sent a manuscript to an agent, she checked out my website, blog, and you guessed it, the e-book. And yes. I now have an agent. She first looked at my submitted manuscript--then was able to find me (and my writing) online.

    Part of offering stories/novellas online is not to stuff it in people's faces. Is to offer more of your work for free for readers. To learn about you, learn about your writing and to promote your work. Blogs don't generate visitors themselves. You need to visit blogs, comment on blogs, and generate some readers. And blog readers come slowly--as the web is full of them.

    Anyway, that's my story and I'm sticking to it! :-) And to think, I was told I was crazy for posting stories (for free) online. But to me, it was building readers. If only two of them.

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  13. Don't feel bad if no one is visiting your blog. Technorati now tracks 41,000,000 blogs and I've seen figures that show there could be up to 90,000,000 blogs out there.

    The odds of publishing a hardcover bestseller seem a LOT better than having a successful blog.

    I think we should all disconnect from the Internet and get back to writing! :-)

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  14. Ron, I only hope my upcoming hardcover is as successful as my blog seems to be. Through no effort of my own, my blog traffic seems to be doubling every month -- an astonishing thing to me.

    When I realized I was getting over 30,000 hits a month, I almost choked.

    As for stories to blogs, I took the easy route and post mine as a blogcast. It was fun recording the story and adding music and the feedback has generally been good.

    But a book on tape reader I will never be... :)

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  15. Rob, I see from your blog, A Measure of Darkness won't be out until next year. That must be making 2006 really drag along for you.

    I hope the book sells as many copies as you get hits on you blog.

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  16. it's not unheard of for an interested editor to contact a blogger to see what else you've got.

    I got spotted this way!

    :o)

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  17. Thanks, Ron. I hope so, too, but I'm not counting on it. :) And, yes, 2006 is crawling by...

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