Making money as a writer: short stories

 How do you make money by writing? What are you supposed to write? I suppose the easy answer is to write a New York Times Bestseller. But that's easier said than done, right? There's no harm in having it as a goal and working towards that goal, but it's a good idea to make some smaller more achievable writing goals along the way. Over the next few posts I'll be talking about way to make that swag, that moolah (Dollars, Euros, Pounds, whatever you call it, it does the same thing the world over) with your words.

F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote and sold short stories
to pay for his and Zelda's extravagant lifestyle.

Short Stories

This is a tough market to break into. As with all markets there is a sliding scale of pay rates: magazines like the New Yorker pay a months rent or more for a story, while many webzines pay nothing. If you write short stories, a good directory to find stats on a huge variety of magazines is Duotropes Digest. You can search by pay rate, genre, and story length as well as other parameters.

As with any writing job, the key is being able to write grammatically sound sentences and perseverance. You will be rejected. The trauma of your teenage years is nothing compared to the countless rejections you will receive. Because so many rejections are sent out, most magazines employ a standard rejection. When editors receive more promising stories that they are still going to reject, they often add a personal touch to encourage you to submit in the future. A strange thing happens, where you begin analysing your rejections for even the slightest hint of a human behind the email. In the past, when the Internet was still a science fiction fantasy, writers use their rejection slips to devious ends. Some even papered their bathrooms with the slips!

A good idea is to join a writer's group. You can support each other when you get rejected, and help each other to improve your writing skills. You'll also make some writer friends who you can discuss literary gossip with!


  1. Yes, I konw all too well about short story rejections! Last week I received a 'no' from Missouri Review and the week before, lost out on Women On Writing! But, because I believe in "Story", I keep going :)

    It's worth remembering when that rejection comes: "it's nothing personal"

  2. Hey Clara,

    Yeah, editors get so many submissions that they couldn't possibly be personal when they are rejecting. They are simply looking for something that they want to publish, no matter who the author is.

  3. 'Hi Mark,'

    Thanks for your post, on my - Writing Lifestyle - Blog about Blogging & Affiliate Marketing, (Book-/Product Review writing) on the About page you can discover that I had some Successes with amungst other things Writing Slogans,

    Also you will occasionally find - Short Stories - on my blog since I am experimenting with writing them, and you can also discover a Short Stories in Developement Page where readers can write their comments,

    'I welcome writers that write Comments
    and share their experiences'

  4. I do believe that there might be opportunities in Self Publishing for building your own (Online) Audience by for example on your blog, offering your polished & finished Short Stories as Free Downloads,

    Than that way you might possibly also be able to create an Audience for also Selling
    a Print Version.

    With your Free (or low priced) Downloads, you also have an opportunity to possibly get valuable Readers Feedback that can help improve.

    For example some of the people that actually bought a tiny little (Non-fiction) eBook that I wrote gave me their (positive) readers feedback by email, and that gave me some new ideas for possible future Upgrade Versions.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. There's no harm in having it as a for business capital goal and working towards that goal,