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Writing Short Stories

Projected Income $50-$2,000+ per story
Costs to Start Minimal
Time to Start Immediate
Category Freelance Writing

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Short stories are a testament to the power of brevity, proving that impactful narratives can be told in limited word counts. This form allows writers to explore myriad themes, characters, and settings. While the craft offers immense creative freedom, it also poses unique challenges in character development and pacing. Publication avenues range from literary journals to online platforms, each offering varying degrees of exposure and remuneration.

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cons-icon Cons

  • Tough Competition: High submission rates make it hard to get published.
  • Limited Earnings: Income can be sporadic unless frequently published or acclaimed with awards.
  • Stringent Guidelines: Each publication has specific criteria that must be adhered to.

pros-icon Pros

  • Creative Expression: Allows writers to experiment with various styles and themes.
  • Quicker Completion: Compared to novels, short stories can be finished faster.
  • Diverse Publication Avenues: Many journals, magazines, and websites accept short story submissions.
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Do you have great story ideas and want to write short stories for a living? You know you can do more than entertain your friends with a gripping plot!

This article will tell you how to get started earning money by writing short fiction, including information on how much you can make and what you’ll need to get started.

An Overview of Writing Short Stories: A Primer

The premise of selling short stories is straightforward; write what you love and are good at in a chosen genre, a popular one, preferably, and get paid for it. 

All you need to do is write your story, edit it, and consider asking a volunteer or a professional editor to proofread it. Then, you can make improvements based on the feedback you receive.

Next, you can begin shopping your story around, looking for a print or online magazine that buys short stories, comparing options to find a suitable price. 

Once you find what you’re looking for, sell your work to a publisher, make some money, and watch as your work reaches people everywhere!

How Much Can Writing Short Stories Earn You?

As a rough estimate, publishers, from magazines to printing houses, may pay writers a flat fee for the entire story, or per-page, at a rate between $20 and $30.

A typical short story is 1,000 to 10,000 words, with a 7,500 words average. With 500 words on a page as the standard, a 1,000-word story would earn you $40 to $60 if you get your short stories published. A 7,500-word story could make you $300 to $450.

The amount of money you can earn when you write short stories depends on the quality of the story, its length, your popularity as a writer, and the publisher you select. 

How Much Does It Cost to Start a Side Hustle Writing Short Stories?

One of the best parts about fiction writing is that it’s free. Technically, you’ve paid several hundred dollars (or several thousands) for a computer, but the act of writing is free. 

You might take a few creative writing courses online or at a college to strengthen your skills. These courses range from completely free online to costing over a thousand dollars at a community college. 

If you start a website to promote yourself as an author, you’ll pay around $200 dollars to get the site up and running.

Hiring a professional editor costs anywhere from $12 to $70 per 1,000 words, depending on the extent of the editing services. It’s safe to assume you’ll pay toward the low end of this range, though.

Where Can You Find Gigs Writing Short Stories? 

Here are some independent resources to get story writing gigs, magazines that pay for short stories, and gig economy companies to look into:  

Where to Independently Find Gigs Writing Short Stories

Reader’s Digest is one of the most known publications for short stories. You can get paid $100 through the literary magazine if you submit short stories of 100 words. 

This will take finesse and sharpening, but the pay makes the effort worthwhile. Short story writing competitions can also help you improve your writing.

Flash Fiction Online and Barrelhouse publish short stories. These literary organizations pay short story writers $60 (the former) and $50 (the latter) if you submit a story of up to 8,000 words with no genre preferences. This could be a good opportunity to write flash fiction.  

Short story publishers also include Giganatosaurus, a science fiction magazine that accepts submissions on a rolling basis. The story can be between 5,000 and 25,000 words long. 

Gig Economy Companies That Offer Gigs Writing Short Stories

Fiverr is a gig economy resource for fiction writers to explore. Upload a story, add an attention-grabbing cover image, and list the price. An interested Fiverr client will gladly buy the teen story or flash fiction. 

Upwork is a website where jobs of all kinds are posted. However, you can filter results to include creative jobs. 

Why You Should Consider Writing Short Stories as a Side Hustle

Are you ready to write a short story and try out this side hustle? Here’s why it’s a good idea:

  • Get paid to write: Any aspiring author’s dream is to get paid to explore their creative whims to the fullest. Your first accepted submission will be a landmark moment. You can enjoy digging the depths of your creativity writing fantasy, science fiction, or other types of stories. 
  • Build your portfolio: Whether you plan to stick to writing short stories or eventually wish to branch out to longer work, getting your writing published is an excellent starting point for developing a working portfolio. 
  • Make connections: Your work as a published author can introduce you to more editors, publishers, and fellow writers who can help you improve and foster a deeper love for writing.

Problems with Writing Short Stories for Money

Before you proceed, it’s best you understand what writing short fiction for money entails, including the potential drawbacks: 

  • Time-consuming: Writing a quality short story takes time, from character and storyline ideation to writing, editing, and rewriting. Even though you’re only writing a few thousand words, you can easily spend weeks or longer on one story.
  • Fraught with rejection: The world’s greatest authors received rejection letters a mile long. You’ll likely accumulate some yourself before you eventually get approved, which can be depressing for some.
  • Depletes your passion: It’s one thing to write for fun, and another if you need to do it for a living. The gig can lose its luster once you turn it into an income source. You could find yourself burned out and uninspired.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you plan to write short stories as a side hustle, these FAQs will help you get started.

Is Writing Short Stories Easy?

Writing short stories is easier than putting together a novel. There’s less intimidation and a lower word count requirement.

However, condensing ideas and character development into around 7,500 words can be difficult, especially for complex genres like science fiction, speculative fiction, or fantasy genres.

What Is Required to Start Writing Short Stories?

You should start with an original idea, characters, a goal or conflict, and a story structure. You also need a memorable beginning and an impactful ending to drive the point across. 

Ask a Question About Writing Short Stories?

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13 Sep 2023
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Dabbling in short story writing has been both a creative escape and a source of income for me. It's thrilling to craft worlds in just a few pages, and the joy of resonating with readers is unmatched. However, the market is saturated, so standing out requires a unique voice and persistence. Beware of the occasional writer's block, but the journey, for me, has been worth it.

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