You can get paid to write short stories if you know where to publish them. Here, we round up 8 proven resources and offer tips for getting started.
Getting paid to write short fiction is a freelance writer’s dream job. This type of creative writing spurs creative individuality in a way nonfiction or content writing doesn’t. With the right skills and knowledge, you can get paid to write short stories and build a full-time writing career.
First, we’ll cover some resources and publications to check out before offering tips on getting paid to write short stories. If you write more than short stories, be sure to check out our detailed guide about how to make money writing.
8 Publications Paying For Short Stories
Submitting short stories to magazines, online platforms and literary journals is often the starting point to getting paid to write them. The writing opportunities below are ideal if you want a creative side-hustle, until ready to write full-time.
Technically, it’s not a publication but Duotrope is a fantastic resource for writers and artists. Basically, its publication tracker compiles writing contests, agent listings, and journals accepting submissions. It covers all types of genres and even poetry. You can manage all of your applications from inside of Duotrope. Here at Become a Writer Today, we like Duotrope as it reduces time spent researching submissions.
Submittable is a service for managing applications, including short stories. You can use it to browse a marketplace packed with thousands of opportunities for grants, fellowships, writing contests and residencies. It’s a particularly good choice if you want to find magazines and journals to place your short stories
3. The New Yorker
The New Yorker is a great name to have on your resume or portfolio. Getting accepted here is hard, but the magazine does accept short fiction and humorous short stories for “Shouts & Murmurs.” Aim for between 600 and 1,000 words for publication here, but know that getting accepted is very hard.
4. The Threepenny Review
Longer short stories, with a 4,000-word count cap, can find an audience in The Threepenny Review. This publication focuses on literature and the arts and pays up to $400 for a published story, so it’s definitely worth considering.
5. The Sun Magazine
If you’re looking specifically at making money, The Sun Magazine needs to be on your list, because they pay up to $2,000 for published short stories. Keep your submissions under 7,000 words, but don’t be afraid to submit a piece you’re proud of, because it could pay well if you do.
6. Flash Fiction Online
Flash Fiction Online wants pieces between 500 and 1,000 words and has a tendency to prefer sci-fi and fantasy, but only clean, web-friendly versions. They want developed characters that people relate to and a plot that finishes. This site, which pays $80 per original story, even welcomes reprinted pieces but does pay less for these.
7. The Arcanist
The Arcanist is a science fiction magazine that pays for micro stories at a rate of $10 for 100 words through PayPal. Only stories of 1,000 words or less are accepted, but you are guaranteed payment before the story is published online or in print. The Arcanist accepts only pieces in the sci-fi, horror and fantasy genres.
8. Virginia Quarterly
With a place for emerging writers, Virginia Quarterly accepts pieces between 3,500 and 8,000 words in most genres, but not sci-fi, romance or fantasy. This publication pays well, 25 cents per word on average, so this site is worth submitting a piece of literary fiction to. However, it only accepts entries between July 1 and July 31.
5 Tips for Getting Paid To Write Short Stories
1. Improve Your Writing Skills
Before you can make money writing short stories, you need to know how to write them well. New writers often struggle with plot and character development, and all writers can improve their grammar and storytelling abilities.
Spend some time in creative writing activities and taking some writing classes, then start creating fiction stories that will inspire.
2. Write A Great Story
Next, you need to write a great story. People will need to see that you have good writing and storytelling skills before they will be willing to pay money for your work. Consider blogging, so you have a platform to self-publish your story, and work on social media to build readership.
You won’t make a full-time income by entering writing contests, but you can get your name out there as a skilled fiction writer if you start winning. As an added perk, you might earn a little money to add to your income as well.
3. Enter Lots of Writing Contests
Short story writing competitions often pay writers who win, and they can give you a fun outlet for your writing. Winning can build your reputation as a good writer, and the competition will help you hone your writing skills. That said, don’t pin all your hopes on one contest. Instead, pick several, rewrote your stories for each competition and keep entering.
4. Self-Publish A Book Of Short Stories
If your story is too long, unique or you’ve written a dozen or more, self-publishing them as a book allows earning some money. If your genre has a lot of interested, voracious readers, you might be able to bring in passive income with repeated sales. Plus, it’ll get you into the habit of shipping your work and seeking feedback from readers. That’ll help with cultivating a habit of writing and publishing short stories.
Discover how much it costs to self-publish a book.
If self-publishing, the most affordable option is to self-publish your book as an eBook. If you choose to publish a paper copy, sites like Amazon make the process simple, but you still have some investment. Always build up readership and interest first to help you recoup some of that investment.
One short story may not be enough to publish a book, but you can create a collection of short stories to create a publication worthy of the title “book.” Try to have a cohesive theme throughout the collection so all the stories appeal to your audience.
5. Publish A Personal Essay
Personal essays are another form of writing that often gets lumped together with short stories. This narrative nonfiction is a way to tell your own true story, and you can get noticed if you write it well.
Personal essays are stories about life, and magazines often publish them. For example, a magazine aimed at parents will publish stories about child-rearing, while one focused on home improvement or decor will publish your personal essay about home remodelling.
If you can’t find a publication that wants your personal essay, consider blogging. Bloggers can put advertisements and sponsorships on their blogs to add an income stream, and they give you a place to publish those personal essays. Most successful, full-time freelance writers will have a blog, so consider adding this to your writing arsenal.
The Final Word on How to Get Paid to Write Short Stories
Getting paid to write short stories takes a lot of legwork and dedication, but it is possible. By submitting your stories to online and print publications, considering self-publication of some stories and developing your craft as a storyteller, you can start making money with your fiction writing.
Meanwhile, consider applying for a writing job.
FAQs About How to Get Paid to Write Short Stories
Do writers retain the rights to their short stories after publication?
Every publication platform has a different rule about rights, so authors need to read these carefully. Generally speaking, the publication will keep the rights to publish the story on their platforms as many times as they wish after payment, but often will allow the writer to publish it elsewhere. That is not always the case, so writers should carefully read all of the rules regarding publication.
Can I make a full-time income out of publishing short stories?
While there are writers who do, making a full-time income out of short stories is definitely challenging, and most freelance writers will have other types of writing in their portfolios. A diverse writing career is the best way to bring in a solid, steady income while dabbling in fiction writing.
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