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Queries and Agents => Author Platform => Topic started by: Prophecies on February 10, 2021, 04:15:21 AM

Title: Short Stories: How Crucial To An Author's Platform? (Literary Fiction)
Post by: Prophecies on February 10, 2021, 04:15:21 AM
Hello everyone,

I write literary fiction, and would like to query UK and Australian agents a novel in 2022 - 2023. But I don't have any short stories published by magazines / publications. I've heard that for lit fic, short story publications matter. Is that true?

I run a growing (monthly page views in the 1000's) literature / history blog where I self-publish short stories (I've released 4, another is coming soon). It's enjoyable and lots of fun, and I'm slowly building up readers. I've thought about submitting stories to publications, but I don't want to. The response times are awful, and it's so time consuming. For a novel, its worth it. But if I submit a short story on my blog for free, I can nurture my readership (impressive long-term payoff, perhaps?).

I get writing and publishing aren't meant to be fun, but I struggle to see the point of submitting short stories to publications. I'd rather build my author platform through self-published shorts, blog posts about history and literature, creating video content, etc.

But idk, I have the belief that you must have short stories published in order to get a book publisher for literary fiction.
Title: Re: Short Stories: How Crucial To An Author's Platform? (Literary Fiction)
Post by: JeanneG on February 10, 2021, 10:29:13 AM
The problem with publishing short stories on your blog is that they aren't vetted by an objective source, such as an editor. Most literary magazines will also consider them previously published, so you've also given up first rights and can only market reprint rights if you do choose to submit them to lit mags.

Why publish your work in lit mags? It depends on what you want for your career long-term. If you're just having fun, what you're doing is fine. If you want to land an agent and/or publish a collection of short stories or a novel with a traditional publisher, you would greatly benefit from publishing your work in established literary magazines. Those publications are gateways to recognition in the industry. Many literary magazines honor their contributors with independent prizes, nominations for awards (such as Best Small Fictions or the Pushcart), and happily promote books by their contributors. Agents also read literary magazines looking for new talent. I know of at least three people who were contacted by a big-name agent after their work appeared in a literary magazine.

Successful publishing in literary magazines is a numbers game. You submit simultaneously. In other words, you submit the same story to multiple markets at the same time. The only exception to this would be if the magazine's guidelines specifically state they don't accept simultaneous submissions. And you should track those submissions carefully because if you have an acceptance, you need to withdraw your submission from the other markets ASAP. You can use Submittable (the preferred submission manager for most lit mags), Duotrope's submission manager (for a fee), or create an Excel spreadsheet.

Yes, submitting short stories is time-consuming. But so are the processes of writing and revising a novel and querying agents or small presses. The business side of writing moves at a glacial pace for many things.

It's really up to you what you want to do. If you're considering writing as a career, I would advise trying to get your stories published in lit magazines. If you just want to have fun, that's fine, too, and you don't need to submit your work anywhere.

By the way, I'm not sure what you think is a good level of readership for your blog. My blog gets about 5000 hits a month. I have no idea if that's good or bad.

Title: Re: Short Stories: How Crucial To An Author's Platform? (Literary Fiction)
Post by: Prophecies on February 10, 2021, 05:59:43 PM
Hi, thanks for replying. While I understand short stories are 'beneficial', I'm wondering how necessarythey are. Agents want lit fic authors to have some commitment to writing. But is short stories the only way to prove that? I've thought about writing non-fiction / journalism pieces for magazines (where the response time is less than two weeks).

Yes, novels have a similar process to short story submissions. But for a novel, if you get repped... you are entitled to royalties and have an agent to help build your career. It's worth the long waiting times, but I struggle to see the time investment for a short story. I'm about to launch a business, and besides, I'm working on my novel. At the end of the day, I want to publish books, not short stories.

Btw, my (less than 2 years old) blog is growing at a monthly 10-20% rate. At the end of the year, its forecast to have 24,000 monthly hits. Not alot, okay, but way more than the readership of some lit mags.
Title: Re: Short Stories: How Crucial To An Author's Platform? (Literary Fiction)
Post by: JeanneG on February 10, 2021, 09:37:05 PM
You don't have to publish short stories to publish a novel. A lot of people just write novels and never write short fiction, and that's fine. Publishing short nonfiction will give you some credentials, but it probably won't matter that much to an agent who represents fiction.

If publishing novels are your long-term goals, then focus on that.