How to Get Paid to Write Short Stories: 8 Great Options

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.

Get paid to write short stories

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.

1. Duotrope

Duotrope has a fantastic search tool, which short story writers can use

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.

2. Submittable

Submittable offers many opportunities for creatives, including short story writers

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.

How to get paid to write short stories
You can create a collection of short stories to create a publication worthy of the title “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.

Did Hemingway write any short stories?

Hemingway wrote many short stories, six books worth of short stories in fact. Many of these
stories detail his time in France after the first world war, the ‘lost generation’ of US Expatriots left
in its aftermath. Additionally, Hemingway is credited with writing the world’s shortest story at six
words, which is simply, ‘For sale, Baby shoes, never worn.’

Did Stephen King write any short stories?

Stephen King is an incredibly prolific writer of short stories, having written 130 short stories in
various publications and starting submitting them as early as 1959 (fifteen years before Carrie
was published). In fact, some of his short stories have been adapted into films and television,
such as the cult sci-fi film ‘Lawnmower Man’. Famous short stories include ‘The Man in the
Black Suit’ and ‘The Raft’

Did HP Lovecraft only write short stories?

While HP Lovecraft is incredibly well known for his short stories, he was also an accomplished
novelist. Having written more than twenty books. Some examples of his novels are The Call of
Cthulu, At the Mountain of Madness and The Cats of Ulthar, as well as his collected short
stories by various publications.

Did Steinbeck write short stories?

Steinbeck wrote two collections of short stories. Many of these stories are collected in the book
‘the Red Pony’, compiling his magazine publications across the 1930’s about a boy and his life
living and working on a California ranch. But other short stories include ‘The Great Mountain’,
The Gift and ‘The Leader of the People’, and all deal with similar themes to his novels about
living and surviving in America.

How many short stories did Chekhov write?

Anton Chekhov is considered to be one of the greatest writers of short stories of all time, having
written over five hundred short stories in addition to his plays and Novellas. Some of his most
famous short stories include ‘The Lady with the Dog’, ‘Vanka’ and ‘Ward No.6’. Much like his
plays, these stories range from being dark comedies to dealing with harsh modern themes of
their day.

Did Shakespeare write short stories?

Shakespeare predated the creation of the short story, and the existence of books in fact. But he
wrote plenty of shorter examples of his writing, with 154 sonnets. Equally, his work has been
condensed and shortened down for amusing purposes. Some examples include Tom Stoppard’s
‘Ten Minute Hamlet’ and most of Shakespeare’s work have been translated into picture books and even Japanese manga books.

Storytelling Resources

A Storytelling Guide: Step-By-Step, With Examples

First vs Third Person Point of View: What Makes Sense for Your Story?

How to Write a Story Outline that Works: 9 Steps

The Hero’s Journey: Explained In 12 Steps

The Inciting Incident: 7 Tips For Starting Your Story With A Bang

Synopsis Example: How To Write A Winning Summary Of Your Story

Allegory vs Parable: What Are the Differences?

7 Types of Conflict in Literature Worth Exploring

12 Character Archetypes To Drive Your Writing

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  • Nicole Harms has been writing professionally since 2006. She specializes in education content and real estate writing but enjoys a wide gamut of topics. Her goal is to connect with the reader in an engaging, but informative way. Her work has been featured on USA Today, and she ghostwrites for many high-profile companies. As a former teacher, she is passionate about both research and grammar, giving her clients the quality they demand in today's online marketing world.

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