Can I Get Paid For Writing Short Stories

One question we get asked regularly is ‘can I get paid for writing short stories?’ 

The answer is… yes, absolutely you can. In more ways than one.

There are quite a few ways where you can get paid to write short stories, some will earn money faster and easier than others.

In this post I shall discuss four methods of getting paid for writing short stories.

1. Write Short Stories For Yourself And Publish To Amazon Kindle

This one is simple to start, but can take time before you start to earn any money from your short stories.

Basically, you write short stories and publish them to Amazon Kindle. There can be costs and headaches attached to this as you will need to create or have created book covers.

A decent book cover can help you sell more books.

The people who make good money publishing short stories to Kindle are very prolific and publish many short stories as fast as they can.

They generally write short stories in a series and publish them to the Kindle Unlimited where people can read them fast, knocking up page reads which Amazon pays you for.

To get as many page reads as possible, writers do need to have a lot of decent stories in Kindle Unlimited which is why writers churn out as many as possible as fast as possible.

Because short stories are not big novels, there are less pages to read and so to rack up the same amount of page reads as the bigger books get, you need to publish as many short stories as possible.

The good news is that short stories take less time to write so getting a lot written shouldn’t be too hard for someone who really enjoys writing.

Also, people can buy your books on Amazon and if they are priced accordingly, you can make a lot of money selling books. 

The US author John Locke was one of the first authors to make over a million dollars selling his books on Amazon, and that was achieved because he wrote a lot of books and priced them at $2.99 or less.

A low price meant that more people were willing to risk buying them. If the books were crap, there was nothing lost other than $2.99 which is change to most people. 

But if the reader really enjoyed the book, they would go looking for the others in the series.

You have to see it this way, 10,000 sales of a $2.99 book will earn you more money than 10 sales of a $9.99 book. Pricing can make all the difference… and with books being digital today, there really is no need to overprice them.

But like all things in life, people need to know about you and your books so there will be the headache of having to market your books. Very few people will find your books unless they are selling well and Amazon starts to promote them for you – which they do. 

But for that to happen, your books need a kick to get them selling. So you may have to look into running Amazon ads or Facebook ads which will cost you money.

2. Ghost Write Stories For Other People

This one can be the easiest and fastest way to get paid to write short stories. You find people who are looking to have short stories written and you write them for them in exchange for money.

With this method, you can be paid as soon as you have finished writing and with the stories being short, you can have them written up in a day or two. Unless you have agreed to write a batch of stories.

I must warn you though, writing short stories for other people can pay peanuts. 

A lot of publishers do not like to pay much for their stories. Which is crap if they are able to sell a lot… but on the other hand, it is understandable if they are only managing to sell a few. 

Who wants to spend $500 on a couple of short stories if they are only going to make back a couple of hundred dollars.

Ideally, you want to find someone who knows how to sell books and is willing to pay you more than most people. If you are being paid a decent amount, you are more likely to not rush and do a decent job. That in itself will help the books to sell more copies.

To find people who are looking for writers to write short stories you want to set up profiles on websites like Upwork.com, Guru.com and Fiverr.com.

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3. Write Short Stories For Yourself And Publish Them Online

The reason I didn’t include this in the first method where you publish your stories to Amazon Kindle is that Amazon often wants you to be exclusive to them or at least sell at a higher price so that you are not undercutting them.

In this method, you write your short stories and you either publish them to your own website or submit them to paying websites (or both).

There are many websites who will pay you for any stories you write which they publish. This method has its own set of problems. Those being:

  • Some websites are incredibly picky and you may get many rejections before anything is published.
  • Many websites pay little and so to make this work, you may need a lot of short stories published regularly, which can be a problem thanks to websites being picky and…
  • Some websites have a limit to the amount of stories they publish per person. If you need to have a hundred or more stories published each month but the websites are only willing to publish no more than ten each month, earning money is going to be hard… especially if those websites are also incredibly choosy about what they publish.

If you publish your own stories to your own website, you will need to put in quite a bit of work getting your site known and getting people to visit your website. This can take a lot of time and money.

Once you have people coming to your website and reading your stories, you can earn money in several ways. Those being:

  • Advertising revenue from page reads. There are many advertising networks who will pay you for showing adverts on and around your content.
  • Selling your own merchandise.
  • Sell your short stories. Add simple payment buttons using payment processors like PayPal or Stripe and charge a fee for people to access your stories.
  • Charge a monthly fee for people to access your short stories. Use a membership system which allows you to lock specific content behind paid walls which can only be accessed by people who pay you a small monthly fee.
  • A combination of the above. You can publish stories for free with advertising all over the story and for those who want a cleaner and easier reading experience, you can offer them an advert free area where readers can access all of your stories for a small monthly fee. You can also sell stories as individual downloads and have a page where you sell your own merchandise. 
A podcast episode in which we spoke to an Amazon Kindle seller who earns a passive income from her books.

4. Publish Short Stories On Patreon.

This is similar to method four but it takes a lot of the technical issues away. Patreon is a platform which works similar to a social media platform but has a built in payment processor which allows you to take subscriptions for your work.

With Patreon, you can set different price levels called tiers and those people who pay a higher priced tier get more exclusive content.

The technical set up can be done in a matter of minutes with Patreon. You could be adding your short stories within minutes of opening up a profile. Because Patreon is like a social media platform, you can post all kinds of content and people can like and comment on what you share.

So you can post interesting and engaging posts about your life too which can help to keep people interested and build a relationship with your fans.

However,  you have the same problem as publishing content to your own website, and that is, if you are unknown and do not have an established fan base, you need to get people to your profile. Which can be a costly affair. Building a tribe of fans will take time, effort and quite possibly a fair bit of money. 

The bestselling author Seanan McGuire uses Partreon to supplement the money she makes from the sale of her books by publishing short stories. 

She publishes at least one a month, often two, and charges per short story.

Which at time of writing is earning her £9,754 per month. If she is publishing two a month and she is getting paid that per short story, then she could be earning twice that figure each month.

Let’s not forget though, Seanan is a best selling author who has an established fanbase.

So if you love writing short stories and have ever wondered ‘Can I get paid for writing short stories?’ then the answer is yes, absolutely you can.

Some methods are easier than others, but it is very much possible that you can make decent money writing and publishing short stories.

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