The Right Way To Share Your Short Story Online

by | May 7, 2015 | Author Websites, Online Publishing | 3 comments

Share Your Short Story Online

Submitting your short story to literary journals is the tried-and-true method of getting your work published and in front of your audience. But with the Internet providing so many other options, you may wonder—why wait for that elusive acceptance from a lit mag editor? What about posting your short stories on social media or on websites to connect with your readers now?

Before you eagerly press “post”—stop! Posting your short story and inviting people to read your work on your blog may seem like a good idea, but it could be an invitation to disaster.

The #1 Reason To Never Post Your Complete Short Story Anywhere On The Web:

If you post your complete short story online, most literary journal editors will consider it published—and will no longer be interested. And, yes, that includes your blog, any other blog, and social media platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+, etc. Are there exceptions to this rule? Yes, there are literary journals that will accept submissions that have already appeared online. But which online venues are considered acceptable differ from journal to journal, so it’s very important to check each individual magazine’s submission guidelines. Your best choice—and the one that will provide you with the largest selection of publishing markets—is to make sure your work does not appear anywhere that would be considered previously published.

How To Safely Share Your Short Story Online

Publish a mini-excerpt! While we don’t recommend publishing your complete short story online, an enticing first paragraph, some captivating dialogue filled with subtext, or a pivotal scene from your story will all work wonderfully as mini-excerpts. And by posting an excerpt instead of the whole story, you’ll build interest without running the risk of the piece be considered “previously published” by editors. Just be sure that your excerpt is less than 10% of the total piece.

Keep in mind the font and background you use when posting the excerpt on your website. Choose a typeface and color scheme that’s not distracting or difficult to read.

Stick to private workshops. If an online workshop or writing group is private and cannot be accessed by the general public, it should be a safe place to post your work.

Post a short story that’s already been published. If a work has already been published in a literary journal and you now hold the rights, you can post that short story on your website or blog. Another option: Link directly to the online literary journal that your short story appears in.

Write a short story specifically to be posted. You can create a short story with the intention of publishing it on your own website. Since it’s not a piece that you will later send out to literary magazines, you don’t have to worry about the fact that it’s been previously published.

QUESTION: Have you ever published an excerpt of a short story on your website?

3 Comments

  1. Louise Findlay

    Less than 10%, huh? I think my excerpt counts then.

    Reply
  2. Michelle Vargas

    I have published short works on my website, but just the ones that have been accepted by print journals first. I’ve also published the prequel of an unpublished novel. I never planned to publish the prequels, but they went along with a blog post I had. I thought this post had excellent advice. Sometimes we get so desperate to be published that we don’t check to see if doing so will harm any chance of future publication.

    Reply
  3. Timothy Caldwell

    Excellent advice. As you suggest, I have published almost all my stories online after they appeared in the various literary journals (both print and online). All of them were taken by journals Writer’s Relief dug up for me.

    When I post the stories on my blog, I link them to my Facebook fan page (also set up by WR), then advertise them on Facebook. The lowest number of people I’ve “reached” is 8500, and the most is almost 25,000. Comments from readers are in the 100s.

    Reply

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