This is topic Publishing a short story collection in forum Open Discussions About Writing at Hatrack River Writers Workshop.

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Posted by genevive42 (Member # 8714) on :
I am considering putting together a short story collection all based on the same theme; though covering a wide range of stories with most of them being speculative fiction. The stories would range from flash to novelette and let's just say I'm aiming for 60,000-70,000 words.

In your opinion, is this a viable product to offer a publisher?

If not, would it be more appealing after I had a few pro publishing credits?

Are short story collections usually only made up of previously published stories?

Just looking for your thoughts.


Posted by axeminister (Member # 8991) on :
I don't know, but my guess would be that you'd submit to your agent or editor after having published credits. Probably novel credits.
I often see short story collections from favorite authors, but only after they've become favorite authors.
I think of them as a greatest hits collection, only the material is new.

I used to wonder how authors found the time to write a book load of short stories, but now I figure they are stories they were writing all along and could only see the light of day anthology style.

Nothing wrong with that.


Posted by Owasm (Member # 8501) on :
Perhaps consider self-publishing. It's my impression that you need to have quite a reputation as a novelist or short-story author in order to interest a publisher in an anthology.
Posted by Merlion-Emrys (Member # 7912) on :
I've thought about this a lot myself. I know novel credits arent needed...Simon Logan published three collections of short stories through Prime books before publishing his first novel (also from Prime.) Most are original to the collections, a few had appeared in magazines or anthos.

Seems like a few of the markets listed on Duotrope, the publishing houses, do collections as well as novels. I think Sonar 4 publications does. I think the proccess is maybe somewhat similar to the novel submission proccess, but I'm not positive.

Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
They tell me short story collections are considered a drag on the market, that they're poor sellers compared to novels, and that they'll sometimes put one out for an established writer but not one from a first-timer. (Not having a track record with markets or sales, I can only pass on what they tell me...)
Posted by JamieFord (Member # 3112) on :
They're a tough sell, regardless of credentials. Some agents don't even represent them. Though I know several agents that do consider short story collections if the author has a novel idea in the works as well--then they'll try and sell both books at once.


Posted by Kitti (Member # 7277) on :
If not, would it be more appealing after I had a few pro publishing credits?

Are short story collections usually only made up of previously published stories?

Yes and sometimes.

Having a few short story publishing credits (semi-pro or pro) would show a publisher that you know how to write short stories and that people are willing to pay for them.

I know a guy who's just published a short story collection. He has a huge long laundry list of publishing credits (and some re-publishing credits). Not sure if the story collection is entirely made up of previously published stories. If I were doing such a thing, I'd try for maybe a 3-1 ratio of published to unpublished so there was some new content for anyone who'd read all my other stuff. (Ha! Such wishful thinking :-) )

Re: whether or not to self-publish... I think that depends entirely on what your goals for the short story collection are.

(Edited because I can't type properly. Gah.)

[This message has been edited by Kitti (edited May 28, 2010).]

Posted by Crank (Member # 7354) on :
A while back, I started a series of science fiction short stories whose encompassing theme deals with the 'irresistible force' versus the 'immovable object' concept. The individual stories' main topics are always different, as are the locations (and, sometimes, even the species involved!), but everything plays into the theme.

My plan from the beginning was to have as many of these stories published in short story markets as I can, then release them in a novel collection at a later date. Also, much like bands do when they release a greatest hits album, I will include a 'previously unreleased' story or two to go with the 'known' material. But, it was always my belief that the vast majority of them should have some sort of publishing credits.

Two of those stories have gained "Honorable Mention" status with WotF, so it seems I'm off to a decent start.



Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
Actually it's a shame, at least in SF...a lot of SF writers do their finest work in shorter-than-novel-length form. Maybe less so these days, but still...


"Crank's" plan is what I've always heard referred to as a "paste-up novel," or, sometimes, a "fix-up novel." If a writer has a bunch of stories that share a common universe and characters, they can all be spliced together at some date, and the resulting agglugination can be called a "novel," and marketed as such.

(Wish I could work up interest in my characters past just one story...I'd love to splice them together and market that as a novel...)

Posted by tchernabyelo (Member # 2651) on :
It is certainly possible to get a short story collection published without a novel to your name (Mary Robinette Kowal is one person who immediately springs to mind; I think Cat Rambo as well). However persuading a publisher that there is a market for your collection may be extremely difficult (both Mary Robinette and Cat had the advantages of award nominations, high-profile short story sales, and market connections).

It's normal for stories a collection to be previously published bar two or three at most. The idea is that it is a single place where a keen reader can get and keep all your work together; that idea clearly presupposes there are keen readers of your work to be found.

I have sold more than 30 short stories and I wouldn't expect any publisher, even a small press, to be remotely interested in a collection because I simply don't have any name recognition whatsoever.

Posted by WouldBe (Member # 5682) on :
It's not clear if you're talking about stories you've already written or will write. If these are to be new stories with a common theme, then maybe you can write a sequence of short stories that roughly knit together as a novel, or at least feels like a novel (recurring characters, forward movement of time, similar themes). That might be more appealing to an editor.

Otherwise, I've read opinions similar to Jamie's: tough sale.

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