1. That Secret Ninja
    Offline

    That Secret Ninja Member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2010
    Messages:
    53
    Likes Received:
    0

    Is it Easier to Get a Novel Published, or a Compilation of Short Stories?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by That Secret Ninja, Apr 16, 2010.

    Basically, the Topic title. If you spend, say five years, training your writing craft, by peninng short stories, and constantly reading, the question is:

    For an unpublished writer, which is easier to do? Also if you did get a Compilation published, will you have an easier time getting your first full length novel, published?
     
  2. Unit7
    Offline

    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2009
    Messages:
    1,151
    Likes Received:
    59
    I think it would be easier to sell a novel to a publisher from a unpublished and no named writer then it would selling a compilation of short stories.
     
  3. Banzai
    Offline

    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2007
    Messages:
    12,871
    Likes Received:
    150
    Location:
    Reading, UK
    However, if you have already made a name for yourself in the literary world with sort stories in magazines and anthologies, then it may be easier to sell a short story compilation. Case in point, Joe Hill, whose short story compilation was published before he started publishing novels, after his short stories had featured in a wide range of markets.
     
  4. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    publishers generally won't even look at short story collections by unpublished writers, since there's just no market for them... the only exceptions would be niche markets like gay, erotica, horror and such...

    even collections by well-known authors are a hard sell, since book buyers lean much more heavily toward novels...

    also, short stories contained in book collections have usually been published in magazines first...

    not necessarily, since good short story writers don't automatically = good novelists... the novel will have to sell itself... and short story collections by new, unknown authors don't make the bestseller list, so even if one has been published, it won't automatically make agents/publishers jump at a chance to take on your novel...
     
  5. EileenG
    Offline

    EileenG Member

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2010
    Messages:
    78
    Likes Received:
    1
    I was talking to a publisher recently who said that it's almost impossible to get a collection of short stories published unless they have all won prestigious short story competitions. Same with poems.

    On the other hand, it's usually possible to sell short stories to various magazines without half the fuss involved in publishing a novel. Some short story competitions have better prize money than you'd get for publishing a first novel.
     
  6. madhoca
    Offline

    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,527
    Likes Received:
    88
    Location:
    the shadow of the velvet fortress
    Yes, I have found exactly this. It was so hard to find an agent for the last two novels I've written I was getting really discouraged. When I started writing short stories for competitions and magazines, I found it much easier to get published or get recognition. I haven't earned or won much money yet, but I've got some return at least, and unlike people who probably have much nicer, less egotistical personalities, I like to see myself in print (even if it's not usually in my real name).
     
  7. JaggedJimmyJr
    Offline

    JaggedJimmyJr New Member

    Joined:
    May 2, 2010
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    I've been wondering about something similar to this. But my concern wasn't exactly about the chance of being published, not directly anyway. Writing a novel seems to be a rather hard job to tackle as a fledgling writer. I mean, I'm struggling enough as it is while writing short stories.

    What do you think would be a better course to take? Should I just dive in and start on my novel, well knowing that it might end up a mess? If nothing else, it could at least be a learning experience. Or should I focus on short stories and let the novel ideas simmer for a little more until I can get rid of some of my nasty habits?

    I like the fact that it's easier to get criticism on short stories. And re-writing, editing and trying to finding mistakes are not massive tasks. Not to mention the boost to your ego and enthusiasm to write, if you manage to get a story or two published. :)
     
  8. Halcyon
    Offline

    Halcyon Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2010
    Messages:
    510
    Likes Received:
    23
    Location:
    England
    It always surprises me that short story writers believe that the writing of a novel is merely an extension of what they already do. For me, it's an entirely different skill set, comparable to expecting a good 400m or 800m runner to automatically be able to proficiently run a marathon.

    As someone who's on his second novel, I have no particular pretence of being anything beyond an average short story writer. It's just not what I do.

    To address the actual question though, yes, I agree with the consensus view. In terms of actually getting a first book published, it would be a near impossibility as a short story writer. You'd have to earn a reputation, either as a novelist, or as someone who has had short stories published in a variety of other places first. :)
     
  9. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    This is really off topic for the thread, but there is a lot to be said for writing short stories to develop your writing style and to build confidence before tackling a large project like a novel.

    Tere are certainly differences between novels and short stories other than size, but short stories are still good practice material.
     
  10. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    i agree completely... was going to say the same thing, but cog is nearly always here ahead of me, given where i am time-wise...
     
  11. ChickenFreak
    Offline

    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    8,970
    Likes Received:
    5,494
    I can more easily imagine writing an adequate novel than writing an adequate short story. It seems to me that you have to pack _so much_ characterization and color and information and meaning into so few words in a short story. You have to present fully developed characters and places and situations without having enough words to present them in, and without retreating to stereotypes to fill in the missing details for you. And you have to have an ending that people care about, without having the opportunity of spending chapters and chapters making them care.

    But if you're already writing short stories, it sounds like you don't have that problem. And I certainly see the appeal of getting something _done_, start to finish, edited and polished and all wrapped up.

    ChickenFreak
     
  12. lovely
    Offline

    lovely Member

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2009
    Messages:
    81
    Likes Received:
    0
    I wouldn't say that writing a novel is easier, but I definitely agree that writing a short story presents its own problems than can be almost equally frustrating. It can be hard to balance the right amount of detail and what is left to the imagination.

    Like Cog said, though, it's great practice. I think one of the best parts is that you can actively practice ending a story, without having to write a whole novel to do it. Also, it's easier to try different narrative styles, themes, and character types than you're used to, because you aren't committed for such a long time. I look at short stories as a great way to expand your repertoire and add some fun stuff to your writing.
     

Share This Page