Sunday, June 17, 2007

Should anyone bother with short stories?

I love to write but find most of my ideas are better suited to short stories rather than full-length novels. Is there a market for short stories? Would publishers be interested in a collection of short stories?

Short story collections just do not work well in this country and I’m not sure why – they’re perfectly suited to train journeys and the before-going-to-sleep time. They seem to work better in the US and, to a lesser extent, UK.

Some publishers do take a chance though – Scribe and the University of Western Ausralia Press, for example, and the University of Queensland Press probably wouldn’t run screaming either. And literary magazines such as Wet Ink and Etchings will publish short stories. There's also the odd aberration, such as the Girls' Night In collections, which I'd like to take as evidence that people read short story collections - but perhaps only for a cause.

Generally, though, writing only short stories will pretty much ensure that you will never have publication at a large house – and that’s presuming that that’s something you want, of course. Just because you’re not published by Random House doesn’t mean you’re not a good and valid writer! It does mean, though, that you'll have to work hard submitting your stories to literary magazines (or publishing online) and hoping that they'll be noticed enough for you to contribute to the odd anthology. You may also find that, having cut your teeth on short stories, you naturally move to longer forms. Many great novelists (Truman Capote, Samuel Beckett, amongst others) practised their craft on short stories, and continued to write them after their novels started to be published.

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