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Putting Short Stories into Multi-Author Anthologies for More Exposure (and more money)

| Posted in Advertising, Tips and Tricks |

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Anthologies have been around for a long time, and it’s no surprise that indie authors are editing and publishing them, along with all other types of fiction.

We’ve talked before about how it’s tough to do well with short stories, in part because readers often prefer longer fiction, and in part because the minimum price you can list your ebooks for on Amazon and the other stores (without doing free) is 99 cents. When you sell entire novels for 3.99 or thereabouts, it can be tough to ask a dollar for a story that might only be 5,000 words and take 20 minutes for someone to read.

I thought I’d present another option, something that I’ve done in the past with my pen name and that I’ll be participating in again this summer (this time with my usual name).

Right now, I’m working on a new science fiction series (for regular readers, think The Emperor’s Edge in space). Since it’s a new genre for me, and I’m not sure how many of my fantasy-loving fans will jump over to it with me, I’m looking for promo ideas. I was pleased when fellow SF&F author C Gockel approached me about putting a short story into an anthology with about ten other authors. Right away, I got excited about writing a short story that could work to lead people into my new series, much as Ice Cracker II did several years ago for my Emperor’s Edge series (long before I made EE1 free, I made that short story free).

With the Ice Cracker II ebook, I made a single short story free. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there are a few reasons why I’m more excited about multi-author anthologies now (and why you may want to consider organizing one for short fiction too).

1. Multiple authors involved means multiple people promoting it

If you publish a short story on  your own, chances are you’re going to be the only one promoting it.

Much as with boxed sets, if you do an anthology with 8 or 10 authors, you have 8 or 10 people promoting it. You’ll send word of it out to your mailing list, and they’ll send the word out to theirs. If you get a couple of established authors in the mix, with thousands of people on their mailing lists, that can be quite a bit of exposure that you wouldn’t usually have.

Instead of a few hundred people checking out your short story, you may get thousands, or even tens of thousands, especially if the book ends up sticking on Amazon, something that’s more likely to happen with all of those people helping promote.

2. You’ll probably make more money overall

In the case of our scifi anthology, I believe we’re going to make it permafree, since our goal is to get as much exposure as we can (I want to get people to try my series more than I want to make money from the short story). But you don’t have to do that.

With an anthology, you’ll likely end up with an ebook that has as many words in it as a novel, so there’s no reason you can’t charge 2.99 and get the 70% royalty.

You can also charge 99 cents if you want more sales overall. Believe it or not, with lots of people promoting these multi-author collections, you can make some money even at 99 cents and even divided eight ways.

3. It’s possible to get ads for an anthology

There are precious few promo sites out there that will let you plug a short story, even if you try to throw money at them. Their readers want full-length novels, and for the most part, that’s what they take. This can make it super tough to sell many copies of your short stories unless you already have a big mailing list of fans and unless you’re writing something that ties into one of your regular series.

But an anthology is a different beast, and numerous sponsorship sites will accept them. Even Bookbub will run anthologies now and then. If you want a BB ad, you’ll probably have to start at a higher price and be prepared to discount to a lower price if you’re accepted (i.e. going from 2.99 to 0.99 or from 0.99 to free). Some people will launch their collection at a low price, such as 99 cents, and promo it to their lists, and then raise the price to 2.99 for a few months before applying — Bookbub likes to give their readers discounted books.

If you’re able to snag a Bookbub and can combine that with all the promo that everyone is doing to their lists, then you can definitely get a lot of eyes on your short story. Compare this to just launching a short story on your own, and I think you’ll see a big difference in the results.

I’ll let you know how my own results are this summer when I have the new series out and when we publish the anthology (as I mentioned, I’ve already had good luck doing this with the pen name — I joined several other authors last summer in writing original novellas for a boxed set, and we hit the USA Today list on our release week.)

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Comments (15)

Lindsay,

Thank you so much for all your tips and advice over the years. The first 2 books of my series came out 30 days ago and my average daily income trended to $300 this week (and there are still 2 more books in editing!). I was about to go traditional until I stumbled onto your site a few years ago. Eeek!

This post came at a good time because I’m thinking about my next steps for marketing and I wondered about getting in an anthology.

You are awesome. Thanks again for everything you do for us. Sharing your strategies really help.

Wow, that’s awesome, M-S. Congratulations!

Lindsay is amazing, isn’t she? Her website is a goldmine of information! So happy to hear that you decided to self-publish! I think it offers authors so many more opportunities!

That is so exciting about the success of your first two books! $300 a day after your month is amazing! Many authors don’t even sell 100 copies of a book. You are rocking this!

Just had a look at your website . . . you own a marketing business . . . that makes sense! Just look at those rankings!

#2 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > New Adult & College

#5 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Mythology & Folk Tales > Mythology

Awesome! Just picked up the Destroyer!

🙂

I’ve been considering using a single-author (me) short story anthology as a free funnel to a series, but using short stories that are stand alones, but thematically related to the series. So, if your main series is time travel-related, do a collection of stand-alone time travel stories. They’re different, but at the same time, the reader is getting an experience that aligns with their topic of interest without requiring them to be familiar with the main series’ characters or world. I don’t know if it will work, but food for thought. It is more realistic for those of us new to this who don’t know authors to team up with on joint anthologies.

Hi, BP!

It’s pretty easy to find folks (if you change your mind) if you’re willing to spearhead the organization of things. Head on over to the Writers’ Cafe on Kboards and start a thread to see if there’s interest. If the theme isn’t too specific, you might find quite a few interested parties. Good luck!

Well, you’ve convinced me to give it a go! I can’t wait to hear how this one does, and in the update, it would be really interesting to hear about how this one got organized, perhaps if C Gockel would like to share as well.

Great idea! We should try this.

This is an awesome idea and I will definitely look into this! I do have one question and this might sound a little rude but when you’re looking for others to do an anthology with, do you make sure you’re familiar with their work so you have an idea of what kind of content you can expect? (To avoid the ones that are filled with grammar mistakes and plot holes?)

This could also be a cool freebie for a newsletter incentive if your books aren’t out yet (or you weren’t willing to do a permafree book).

I look forward to hearing how yours goes even though I’m sure, with your talent, it’ll be amazing!

In an ideal world, I would have read all of the other authors, but that’s rarely the case. At the least, you could look at their other books and their Amazon ratings and see if there are complaints about editing and the like to make sure you’re not falling in with a less than professional crowd.

Thanks for the great advice. It’s encouraging to hear concrete examples, rather than generic advice.

Congrats on your success!

Hi Lindsey, new reader/fan. Just read the first four books in the emperor’s edge so far. Really like the depth your adjectives and vocabulary bring to immerse me in your story. I’ll be checking out more of your books as I finish this series. I came here to sign up for your newsletter and saw this post. I usually read science fiction and fantasy, and since I read a lot, I personally enjoy reading multi author anthologies, as it brings me into contact with new talented authors I can follow. Two of my favorite sci fi authors if I can recommend connecting with them if they are doing an anthology would be Vaughn Heppner and BV Larson. Looking forward to reading the rest of your books!

Thank you for the recommendations, VX! And thanks for checking out the books too. I’m glad you’re enjoying the EE series so far!

Hello, Lindsay.

From a french new fan. I’ve just finished readind the EE series (All the novels and short stories). But, book nine feels like a cliffhanger : what about Basilard and Ashara ? Will you publish the end of their story ? Same question for Sespian, Mahliki and his adoptive daughter ? and Akstyr and his studies ?
So many questions, and so many endearing characters.
Please, answer me.

Hi, Frédérique! Thank you for reading! I do plan to get back to Ashara and Basilard (and friends) eventually and write the follow-up to D&F. 🙂

Strength in numbers and teamwork! Thanks! And good luck!

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