A Simple Way To Build Your Author Brand
One of the greatest mountains an independent author has to climb is the Mountain of Legitimacy. In the past, if you were traditionally published, you were a real boy (author) and your work was clearly of ‘high quality’. This idea of quality is still a strong motivator for the reading public, particularly with the number of poorly produced self-published words equalling (or out numbering) the professionally produced self-published works. While many readers are happy to read the work of independent authors these days, getting a steady flow of readers to your self-published works as a new author is a long journey, with ‘legitimacy’ a good book series or two away. So how does an indie author gain legitimacy at a quicker pace without a book contract from a publisher?
For this strategy you need to think small, not big. Publishing credits come in many flavours, the more ‘credits’ you have to your name the more legitimate your writing, the higher quality you ‘clearly’ are. Recently, I have been sending almost a dozen short stories out to journals across the world. And in the past three months I have had my first two short stories accepted and published. My flash fiction fantasy story ‘Always’, a bitter-sweet ghost story set on a bus, was published by website Daily Science Fiction (available for anyone online to read for free); and my horror YA story ‘Teddy Bears’ Picnic’, a dark twist on the classic children’s song, was published on Monday in Tincture Journal.
You could imagine my excitement; my stories, in the world, in front of eyeballs, eyeballs who trusted the judgement of the editors of these publications. Being published in these websites and journals has resulted in a bit of legitimacy rubbing off on me. It is the age old Jedi slight of hand, if someone important thinks you are worth their time, then you must be. “But why bother?” you might ask. “Why waste your time being rejected by journals and short story publishers rather than just getting on with building your list?”
Here are four simple reasons as to why you should consider including getting short stories professionally published in your indie author game plan:
- Professional publishing credits add significant weight to your author bio. The bigger the journal the better the credit. The people who produce these publications are ‘professionals’ they ‘know what they’re doing’ (or are good at pretending they do), hence the reader transfers their trust to you. I will always send my stories to the higher paid, well respected journals first and as I get rejections I work my way down to ones that pay less. The journals that are more highly respected not only pay you for your writing (something all writers should fight for), but they command a large audience. Once that audience becomes aware of you, you can drive greater traffic (traffic you would unlikely be able to tape into on your own) to your indie works.
- Short stories are quicker to write. We all know writing a novel takes a bucket load of ass-glue-chair time, and as such, because we can only produce a select few in our life-time, our chances of professional publication are also limited. But with short stories, you can have half a dozen stories out there within a month doing the submission rounds. Less time spent on writing a complete work and shorter submission waiting times equals a quicker way to get publishing credits. Plus, there is a great deal of satisfaction and feeling of accomplishment if you are completing stories on a regular basis (a great motivator as you’re working on a longer work).
- You get paid! No, before you ask, submitting to journals that don’t pay will not help your cause. The reason you want to get short stories published is to increase legitimacy and drive traffic. If the journal is not paying contributors, then they clearly have no cash flow. No cash flow means a smaller (or no) audience (and indicates they are not treating their writing as a business, you want all of your partners in crime to treat writing and publishing as a business). Once you’ve had your story ‘published’ you can no longer offer it around. So believe in yourself and don’t settle for free! I do admit though, the getting paid for your writing is the best part of this exercise.
- Once the exclusivity period for your publication with the journal/website/anthology has lapsed, you can collect all of your published short stories and release them yourself as an anthology, to build your list and your overall independent income.
Whether you make this a regular part of your author brand strategy or an occasional activity you indulge in, you will never find writing and sending out short stories a wasted activity. At the very best, it’s giving your exposure and legitimacy, at the very least, you’re getting practise 😉
Emily’s story ‘Always’ is available for free on Daily Science Fiction right now and can be consumed in a single coffee break. Go check it out here!
Her creepy/horror short story ‘Teddy Bears’ Picnic’ is also available now in the delightful Australian publication, Tincture Journal: Issue 8. You can grab a copy of this $8 magazine here, along with other great genre and literary stories.