How to Get Paid to Write Short Stories: 6 Places to Try

You can get paid to write short stories if you know where to publish them. Find out where a freelancers can publish short narratives and get paid.

Getting paid to write short fiction is a freelance writer’s dream job. This type of creative writing can spur your individuality in a way that nonfiction or content writing cannot. With the right skills and knowledge, you can get paid to write short stories and add this to your full-time writing career.

This guide will show you how to make money writing short stories, how to make your stories stronger and where to submit them once they’re written.

Get paid to write short stories

1. Start by Improving 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.

Once you have an audience who enjoy your work and are coming back for more regularly, you will have a better ability to start getting money for your written work.

3. Know Where You Can Submit Short Stories for Publication

Submitting short stories to magazines, online platforms and literary journals is often the starting point to getting paid to write them. Some of the places that will pay for quality short stories include these:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

4. Enter 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.

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.

5. Self-Publish A Book

If your story is just a bit too long or unique for these publications, self-publishing it as a book would allow you to bring in some money. If your genre has a lot of interested, voracious readers, you might be able to bring in passive income with repeated sales.

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.

6. 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 remodeling.

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.

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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Author

  • 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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