I’ve been reading a lot lately about the worth of writing short stories in making a career as a writer. And I can see validation is lots of the pros. Short stories are an easy gateway drug. You write a 5,000-word story, hook a reader, and make them read everything else you’ve written. You can add short stories between books in a series to keep readers on track, constantly following you to see what comes next. Short stories are faster to produce, meaning that you can reach the status of prolific writer a whole heck of a lot faster than if you had written full length books.
But then there’s the problem of what does a reader want to see? In my head, the people who are really interested in short stories want them for a reason. They want a quick fix. Maybe some of them will translate into full novel followers, and that’s great. I have a short story from The Tethering series up for preorder in the Athena’s Daughter 2 anthology just next month. I am super excited about it, and I really do hope that story will help build readership for The Tethering. But I didn’t write the story for that purpose. I didn’t write it trying to fool people into thinking The Tethering was 5,000 words long. I wrote the story because I wanted to. If anything else comes from it, great! But I didn’t write it for promotional purposes only.
In a world of Kindle Direct where your payday relies on people reading a certain percentage of your book, I can see the appeal in writing short. The faster they get to 10%, the faster you get paid. But where does smart business start hurting the actual writing? I understand that we all have bills to pay. But in this hugely competitive atmosphere, are we risking losing quality in search of quick quantity? And if all the indie authors decide to start cutting word count, is that going to push readers even farther away?
Please don’t think I’m downing all short stories and novellas. I’m working on a novella right now that I might consider putting up on Kindle Direct. But I’m not using novella length to get to 10% faster. It’s genuinely the length I think the story needs to be.
So consider, in the long run, what’s better for a career: working to write well, or working to write faster.