Friday, 28 June 2013

Short stories - the long and the short of it.

I haven't been very good at keeping up this blog, have I!  Every spare moment these days gets devoted to writing the novels - pretty much at the expense of everything else. As well as neglecting the blog, I've also more or less given up writing short stories. And talking to one of my friends from the Essex group of the RNA yesterday over lunch, I realised I'm not alone in that.

Years ago, before I ever had a book published, I was quite a prolific short story writer. My acceptance rate was good and I earned some decent money from it. This was in the days of Woman's Realm, and when the other magazines mostly published a lot more fiction than they do now. I was still working full-time at my day job, dreaming of writing a novel but never actually managing it (I did eventually, of course!), and at times I actually thought I'd give up trying and instead just devote my spare time to writing short stories for the rest of my life.

It was when Woman's Realm - my best and most lucrative market - went out of publication that I decided to try more seriously to complete a novel, so in a funny way I have to thank them for that. But throughout the following years I did continue to write short stories too, and continued to have a reasonable percentage of them published.

Over the years, though, my success rate with short stories has dipped, (and to be fair, so has my output - I now prefer writing novels). There's no doubt it's harder than ever now to be successful in the women's magazine market. Although there are those writers who still do remarkably well, the competition is huge and the requirements ever more exacting. And to be honest, sometimes I've felt that the eventual fee (if you're lucky) is no longer worth the amount of time and effort taken, especially if the editor asks for re-writes.

I'm sure many writers will disagree, and I appreciate that I'm fortunate now to have the option of writing and selling my novels. As we all know, this is equally fraught with uncertainty, any success being almost surely temporary! - and despite being with a traditional publisher for the first eight books, it was never very financially rewarding until I began to self-publish on Amazon. Now the e-books are doing well, and at my age I don't feel inclined to go on investing time on something I've been finding increasingly frustrating.

So unless I have some amazing short story ideas which absolutely demand to be written, I'm calling a halt to that side of my writing 'business' - at least for now. I've still got two stories out on 'spec' - submitted last year, still waiting for responses (that's part of the frustration too!) - so if either of them were to be accepted it'd be nice, but the fact that I'd almost forgotten they were still 'out there' speaks for itself.

It's sad in a way, because I once got so much pleasure from crafting and selling short stories. When I decided to have this break from them, I looked back through my file of published stories and re-read some of them, feeling quite proud, and enjoying reading them again - and that gave me the idea of re-publishing some of my favourites as a Kindle anthology. I decided to choose twelve stories with a common theme - they're all about travel or holidays, so I've called the collection 'Travellers' Tales'.
It's now available (under my real name, Sheila Norton) on Amazon for only 77p - click here to have a look: Travellers' Tales - Sheila Norton . I like the fact that I've been able to bring these stories back to life again and maybe I'll publish a further volume some time.

Or ... of course ... maybe one day I'll change my mind, give up writing the novels and go back to short stories again! Who knows.

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