Friday, July 18, 2014

Promoting Short Stories

When I first started writing short stories (yes, back in the days of manual typewriters and carbon paper), once you sold the short story, the magazine or anthology you sold it to took care of all the promotion. Yes, you announced the sale to your friends and maybe there was a writeup about it in the local newspaper and maybe industry newsletters, but that was about all you could contribute. The magazine or anthology promoted the various authors whose stories appeared in the work, depending on the author’s status.

Nowadays, with social media, you aren't as dependent on the publisher or the publisher's or editor’s idea of author status and who gets promoted. You can do your own promotion. You can announce the sale on Facebook and Twitter and Google+, and put a link to where the story appears on your website once the issue or the work is released. Some small press publishers furnish promotion material for their anthologies, like bookmarks, that authors can take with them to conventions for freebie tables or to hand out at signings.

Promotion by bookmark is good if you are traditionally published (where you only have a small window of time in which to promote) and even more so if your publisher is a small press, because with a small press you can continue to promote the anthology for years. Or until the publisher stops furnishing promo material for the anthology.

This is what I've done in the past to promote my short stories published in anthologies. I've also listed the story or anthology in the bios I've been asked to provide for conventions as an author participating on panels. But now I'm moving into new territory. One of my publishers, Amber Quill Press, is now publishing short stories on its website and then releasing the stories on Amazon Kindle. I've got one short story, “The Oracle of Cilens”, available through this program and another (“Search and Rescue”) will be released in August. So I started wondering how one goes about promoting individual short stories.

Searching on the web turned up only the suggestion to blog about your short story, both on your own blog and well as guest posts on other blogs. And of course mentioning the short story on your website. One author I know has had postcards on freebie tables at conventions advertising his free short story, and I liked that idea, but I wasn't sure if that was done for short stories for sale. So I asked some of the writing organizations I belong to, such as Broad Universe on Facebook, figuring I wasn't the first to wonder about this. Kelly Harmon kindly responded with an image of the rack card she uses to promote her six short stories at conventions.

So, with only two short stories so far, I'm going with a bookmark to bring to LonCon 3 (Worldcon in London) followed by Shamrokon in Dublin next month. The front of the bookmark has the two covers and the back has the blurbs for the stories.

Three questions: How do you learn about short stories? What promotions have you seen? What do you use to promote your short stories?

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