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How to Write Short Stories for Money [9 Options for 2023]

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Writing short stories is a great way to make some extra money.

Unfortunately, few writers know the right platforms to sell their skills. If this sounds like you, then you’re in the right place.

We understand how challenging it can be for short story writers to get a suitable medium to write and earn.

This is why you need to read this piece.

Here, we’ve outlined nine options you can explore to write short stories for money.

After reading this article, you’ll be armed with every information you need to succeed as a short story writer.

Can You Write Short Stories for Money?

Of course, you can write and sell short stories. As long as you can develop a compelling story, you’ll always have an audience ready to pay to read your works.

Many literary magazines in the publishing industry accept fiction and other kinds of stories from writers in exchange for money.

And you can always self-publish your writings.

vector graphic showing an illustration of sell short stories for money

How Much Can You Make by Writing Short Stories?

This depends on the publisher(s), magazine(s), or client(s) you’re writing for and how often you submit short stories.

For example, you can earn up to $15,000 monthly as a short story writer, but that’s not in every case.

Some magazines pay writers about $20-$30 per page or $75-$150 per article.

Others might pay you some cents per word, and the number of words you write will determine your total earnings.

What You’ll Need to Get Paid to Write Short Stories

If you’d like to get paid to write short stories, here are some things you need to get started:

  • Excellent Writing Skills: As a short story writer, your writing skill is an essential tool you need to reach your target audience.
  •  A Compelling Story: It’s one thing to know how to write; it’s another thing to be able to come up with an engaging story. Literary fiction and short stories can be a whole lot to handle, and one of the best ways to succeed is to be able to write different genres of varying lengths and styles.
  •  A Payment Method: You need an account to receive every money you make from writing. It could be a bank account, a PayPal account, or any other amount means that your chosen platform is using.
  •  A Writing Platform: You need the right place to sell your writing services. You can submit short stories to a literary magazine or use other mediums like Amazon KDP, Upwork, etc.

The Best SUBJECT (Overview)

We’ve included an overview of our top picks below. For detailed information on each pick, scroll down.

  1. Reader’s Digest
  2. Analog
  3. One Story
  4. Strange Horizons
  5. The Sun Magazine
  6. Kindle Direct Publishing
  7. Freelance writing
  8. Short Story Writing Competitions
  9. Own a Short Story Blog

Where to Write Short Stories for Money

These are some options and platforms you can explore to make money from writing short stories:

1. Reader’s Digest (Literary Magazine)

a screenshot of the readersdigest homepage

Reader’s Digest is one of the best online platforms you can consider for short story submissions.

It’s a well-renowned family magazine that discusses food, health, beauty, travel, fashion, humor, etc.

Reader’s Digest will accept your submission as long as you can write short stories in any of these categories.

Plus, your work must not have been previously published.

This magazine also allows writers to publish true short stories of about 100 words on their websites.

Besides accepting works from writers, they’ll hire staff writers to help contribute high-quality content.

How Much You Can Make

This literary magazine pays $1 per word, which equals $100 per submitted work.

What Makes This Option Great

Reader’s Digest allows you to write about different things based on your expertise.

On top of that, this is a popular magazine, so you can be confident that your published story will reach many people.

  • Typical Fees/Commission: None
  •  Typical Payment Methods: PayPal or credit card

2. Analog (Science Fiction Magazine)

a screenshot of the analog homepage

Analog is a magazine that caters to writers who enjoy writing science fiction or articles on scientific research.

Every item this magazine publishes is high-quality because it has an accurate scientific base.

Analog only accepts fiction with realistic and professional scientific stories, so submitting poems and fantasy isn’t ideal here.

If you’re adding an illustration alongside your writing, it must be related to your story and visually appealing.

They only accept about four stories or articles and six poem submissions from one person.

How Much You Can Make

Analog offers 6 cents per word for serials, 8-10 cents per word for short fiction, and 9 cents per word for fact articles.

You can also get paid for cover art if you submit any.

It’s usually $125 for a black and white cover and $1,200 for a colored one.

What Makes This Option Great

As a leading science fiction magazine, Analog has the reputation you need to be classified as a top-notch writer.

Every submitted work undergoes strict scrutiny, and having your work accepted is a sign that you write excellent science fiction.

  • Typical Fees/Commission: None
  •  Typical Payment Methods: Not Indicated

3. One Story (Nonprofit Literary Magazine)

screenshot of the one story homepage

As a nonprofit literary magazine, One Story creates a platform for different writers to publish short stories and earn some cool cash while at it.

They usually accept submissions between:

  •  January 15th – May 31st
  • September 3rd – November 14th 

Every submitted work must be 3,000 to 8,000 words long, and you’re free to write on any subject or theme you want.

While turning in your short story, you’ll need to add your name, story name, and other necessary information on a cover letter.

Note that whatever format file you submit—PDF, TXT, RTF—must be less than 500KB.

This magazine doesn’t accept previously published stories.

How Much You Can Make

A writer can earn $500 for submitting a single story to One Story.

How much you earn from them depends on how often you submit short stories.

What Makes This Option Great

One thing that makes One Story a great option is that you aren’t limited to a particular genre and writing style.

You can write about anything and everything as long as it makes sense.

It also features One Teen Story, a magazine that caters to writers between the ages of 13 and 19.

Depending on your age, you can choose to write for One Story or One Teen Story, but you can’t submit to both magazines simultaneously.

  • Typical Fees/Commission: None
  •  Typical Payment Methods: Not Indicated

4. Strange Horizons (Speculative Fiction Magazine)

screenshot of the strange horizons homepage

Strange Horizons is a magazine focusing on speculative fiction, including fantasy, science fiction, horror, and every other genre that falls under this category.

Besides speculative fiction, this magazine publishes poetry, book reviews, flash fiction, and non-fiction.

Each category has its submission guidelines, and you should check out the magazine’s site to find more info about whatever type you wish to submit.

How Much You Can Make

Strange Horizons offer 10 cents per word; the magazine’s minimum payment is $60.

What Makes This Option Great

Strange Horizons has a long-standing history of publishing award-winning pieces.

Publishing your work here is an excellent way to build your portfolio and kickstart your writing career.

  • Typical Fees/Commission: N/A
  •  Typical Payment Methods: PayPal or check

5. The Sun Magazine (Literary Magazine)

screenshot of the sun magazine homepage

The Sun Magazine is a famous magazine that supplies its readers with articles and stories on different global issues.

It also publishes stories written by writers across the world.

This magazine focuses on publishing poetry, personal essays, and other stories or pieces that discuss cultural and political issues.

If you’re into fantasy short stories and different genres, this may not be the best platform for you.

No specific information about how many words you can submit, but most of the magazine’s published stories are 7,000 words and below.

You can submit your piece by post or online.

For the latter, you’ll need to create an ID on The Sun’s website before submitting via the online portal.

How Much You Can Make

The Sun pays $100-$250 for poetry and $300-$2,000 for personal essays and short fiction.

Payment is made only after your work has been accepted.

To ensure your work is accepted, follow the samples on the magazine’s website.

What Makes This Option Great

The Sun Magazine boasts a sizeable loyal readership, so publishing your work here is an excellent way to access this audience.

  • Typical Fees/Commission: None
  •  Typical Payment Methods: PayPal and direct deposit

6. Publish Short Stories on Amazon (Self-Publishing)

a screenshot of the kindle direct publishing homepage

Amazon has made it easy for writers to earn money by self-publishing via their Kindle Direct Publishing.

This method is free and easy; you can start earning money as a writer quickly.

This platform is a great way to build your writing career because you get complete ownership over your published story.

Each story you post on the site will significantly add to your portfolio.

With Amazon, you can sell your short story as an ebook or a printed copy, and you get to set your price.

It might take a while to make sales via Kindle due to the heavy competition on the site.

However, since you can access Amazon’s large marketplace, it shouldn’t take long before you connect with your target audience.

How Much You Can Make

You can make as much as $10,000 or more as a self-publisher on Amazon, although that depends on your marketing strategy and other factors.

What Makes This Option Great

Amazon not only allows you to set your rate, but they also let you get 70% of royalties.

In addition, your work can be published within 24-48 hours, so you don’t have to wait so long to get your story in the marketplace.

  • Typical Fees/Commission: 30% of the sales price
  •  Typical Payment Methods: Wire transfer, check, and direct deposit

7. Freelance Writing (Side Hustle)

As opposed to self-publishing, freelance writing is a system that lets you ghostwrite stories for people who hire you.

It’s a means of earning a steady passive income since you’ll always find someone who needs your writing skills.

There are different platforms where short story writers can sell their skills, and some popular choices include Fiverr and Upwork.

Unfortunately, since you’ll be ghostwriting, you can’t claim anything you’ve written, and you may be unable to add your works to your portfolio.

How Much You Can Make

Most freelance writers charge between $0.01 and $2 per word, which will determine how much you receive.

Others charge per hour based on the nature of the job. You can charge more as you gain experience.

According to ZipRecruiter, freelance writers earn about $5,032 per month.

What Makes This Option Great

Once you can overlook that you won’t get any recognition for your work, ghostwriting is one of the simplest ways to make money.

New writers can also sign up on Fiverr to gain experience and build their portfolio before branching out to other means of getting paid to write.

And as you gain more knowledge on Fiverr, you can land higher-paying clients and charge more.

  • Typical Fees/Commission: Depends on the freelancing platform
  •  Typical Payment Methods: Depends on the freelancing platform

8. Enter Short Story Writing Competitions (Side Hustle)

There are many writing contests, and you can participate in any of them to make money.

You might need to pay some money to register for these competitions, but the rewards always make up for the investment fee, with extra bucks to spare.

Some popular platforms you can check out for writing contests are The Masters Review and Narrative Magazine.

You can also find several short story writing competitions on the internet.

How Much You Can Make

It varies. Some writing contests offer their winners $500-$1,000, while some pay as much as $10,000 or more.

What Makes This Option Great

Short story competitions allow emerging writers to test their writing prowess and know what areas they lack and need to work on.

Another reason you should consider this option is that you don’t have to come first in these contests to get rewards.

Many platforms offer consolation prizes for writers who submit remarkable stories.

Finally, this is one of the fastest ways to earn thousands of dollars as a short story writer.

  • Typical Fees/Commission: Depends on the writing contest
  •  Typical Payment Methods: Depends on the writing contest

9. Own a Short Story Blog (Writing Career/Side Hustle)

Instead of writing for other short story publishers, you can start a blog.

You can write several short fiction stories and other things you’re passionate about and get money in return.

While this option can be challenging, it has one of the highest earning potentials, especially if you adopt other monetization methods on your blog.

If you can build your audience to a certain level, this medium can be one of the best means of making money from writing short stories.

You can take it a step further and work with other authors in your niche so that you can write on each other’s sites.

How Much You Can Make

There’s no fixed amount for a blogger’s earnings. Some can earn as low as $50 per month, while others can make as much as $100,000.

It all boils down to factors like the blog’s popularity, monetization methods, etc.

What Makes This Option Great

This platform allows you to explore other monetization methods, such as affiliate marketing, course sales, sponsored posts, and more.

You can also choose whichever genre you want, but the most successful ones include sci-fi, horror, adventure, travel, and fantasy.

  • Typical Fees/Commission: N/A
  •  Typical Payment Methods: Depends on the blogging platform

Why You Should Consider Writing Short Stories as a Side Hustle

Here are some reasons you should consider writing stories for money:

  • You Get the Chance to Write More: Short stories are easy and quick to write. You can write as many stories as possible and earn more money.
  • Different Categories: Several writing options are available under the short story category. Some include flash fiction, novelettes, poetry, mini-sagas, etc. You can select any of these categories based on your ability.
  • You Can Earn More Than You Think: With short stories, you can earn as much money as authors who write ebooks. This makes this venture more rewarding than writing full-length novels.
  • A Great Source of Passive Income: You don’t have to write full-time to make some extra cash. You can write stories as a side hustle while focusing on other activities that can get you even more money. You can even earn royalties.

Problems With Writing Short Stories for Money

Writing short stories isn’t all that perfect, and these are some problems you can encounter along the way:

  • No Guaranteed Paycheck: Unlike a regular job, writing short stories doesn’t offer a stable salary. You can earn so much in one month and then make stipends the next month.
  •  It May Take a While to Sell Short Stories: If you’re a new writer, it might take time before you sell your first short story.
  •  Highly Competitive: The writing space is saturated, with more than enough experienced writers seeking writing jobs. New writers may have issues getting clients on time.
  •  Strict Guidelines: Due to the large number of submissions that most literary magazines get, they put strict guidelines on choosing what story to publish. There’s no guarantee that your work will make the cut.

How to Get Paid to Write Short Stories: Step-By-Step Instructions

Here’s how you can get paid to write short stories:

Step 1: Choose an Interesting Topic

The first thing you need to do is choose a topic that’ll resonate with your target audience.

You can check out what’s trending and try to lead your short stories in that direction.

You may also need to check some popular magazines or publications to find out their audience and what topics they publish often.

Finally, check out the site’s submission guidelines so you’ll know what to do and avoid.

Step 2: Find a Platform to Submit Your Story

After writing your story, you should contact a platform to submit your work.

We advise prioritizing publications that pay the most, as that would make your efforts more rewarding.

You can also leverage freelancing sites to get clients interested in your writing skills.

Step 3: Negotiate Your Pay

Although most magazines offer a flat fee for submitted works, you may be able to negotiate for something higher if your work is of higher quality.

Step 4: Get Paid

After submitting your work and it’s been accepted, the next step is to receive payment.

Payment method differs; find out the payment system that each platform uses.

Things to Consider When Writing Short Stories for Money

You need to consider the following when writing short stories for money:

1. Writing Is Challenging

On the surface, writing looks like an easy activity, but it’s more challenging than it seems.

There are many things to consider and overcome when writing short stories, and falling short of these can affect your progress in the writing industry.

However, if you can overcome the heavy competition, writer’s block, and strict guidelines, you’ll ride the waves quickly!

2. Good Marketing Is Important

If you don’t put yourself and your work out there, no one will know what you can do.

Marketing your stories is as important as writing them.

That’s why you should do everything you can to get your target audience in your corner.

To do this effectively, consider joining writing communities, owning a blog/website, and interacting with people on social media.

3. Have Good Networking Skills

The more connection you have with publishers and editors in the publishing industry, the easier it’ll be to get your works published.

This is another reason you should be a part of a writing community.

It brings you closer to people with a solid footing in writing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Make a Full-Time Career Out of Writing Short Stories?

Making a full-time career out of writing short stories is possible, but it might be challenging.

Make the most of your writing skills and build a diverse portfolio to attract more gigs and clients.

Can I Retain the Right to My Short Story After Publication?

This depends on the magazine and its guidelines.

Most publications will retain the rights to publish your story after you’ve been paid but may allow you to publish it elsewhere.

Overall, you should check out each platform’s publication policies.

Similar Tutorials to Check Out

If you’re interested in other means of making money, here are some options you can try out:

Wrapping Up

Several writing opportunities are available for people interested in writing short stories for money if they know where to look.

And with the nine options outlined above, you shouldn’t have issues finding a platform that suits your fancy.

If you find this article helpful, let us know your thoughts below.

And remember to share this with your friends so they can learn how to write short stories for money.

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