Are Short Stories a Worthwhile Promotional Tool?

Earlier this morning I answered a question over at kboards about writing short stories. Someone had just finished writing a full length novel spy thriller and had also written two short stories about the same spy and wanted to ask the folks at kboards if anyone thought that it would be worthwhile publishing those stories along with the novel as a sort of a promotional tool.

Kind of like that first taste of crack.

Well – I have actually written short stories AND released them – but these days I tend to work more on my novel-length manuscripts. The novels sell a whole lot faster and make me more money.

Money is important.

I don’t make nearly enough of it off of my writing just yet – but I’m working on it.

I answered the question this way.

I suggested that he use the two short stories as mailing list freebies.


Set them aside and use them as opening chapters to a bigger novel. That would work well with a spy thriller. Think about every James Bond movie you’ve ever seen. Most of them start with James kicking KGButt in some desolate part of the plant where they happen to keep ski-jets and helicopters. Then – after he kicks KGButt and trashes a few ski-jets and escapes in the helicopter, most likely while catching a falling KGB stormtrooper in the whirl of his helicopter rotors he gets a call from Judi Dench who tells him that the brother of that pureed stormtrooper has just stolen a truckload of atomic pinball machines and is driving that truck straight towards Fort Knox.

Shoot – I think I’ve just scripted my next novel.


James Bond

Enter a caption

All right, so I tried to find a picture of Daniel Craig looking mildly surprised but I think that his mother must have left the fridge door open way too close to his cradle. Talk about your frozen features!

The main thing is get back to work on Book 2. Then jump into Book 3. You get Book 3 out there – THEN kick the tires and the light the fires and bring out the biggest promotional atomic pinball that you can find and launch that sucker to the moon. Once that Book 1 is funneling all of those readers into Book 2 and 3, Fort Knox will most likely call and ask you to come and store your bullion in their basement.



What I have done is to release a collection of short stories to help promote a full-length novel. I am talking about BIGFOOT TRACKS which is three separate stories set in the very same universe as my full length Bigfoot novel BIG HAIRY DEAL. And, according to some of the e-mails that I have received over the last year some folks actually DID buy BIGFOOT TRACKS and then made tracks on over to BIG HAIRY DEAL.

So it CAN work – so you might also think about writing a few more short stories and releasing it as a collection – OR – maybe releasing that collection as part of a box set of the first three novels. That is, BUY THIS BOX SET OF MY FIRST THREE SPY-THRILLER NOVELS AND RECEIVE MY COLLECTION OF NEVER-READ BEFORE SPY-THRILLER SHORT STORIES or some such gimmick.

In any case – I would DEFINITELY not make the short stories a priority right now. For now I would work on getting those next two novels out there. A set of three is going to be a lot easier to promote than that one lowly FIRST-IN-A-PLANNED-TRILOGY novel.

So that is my two bits on that question.

If you would like to read the whole thread, why don’t you swing on over to kboards?

yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon


4 responses to “Are Short Stories a Worthwhile Promotional Tool?

  1. First, this is a great reminder that I have to get back to writing at least a couple of short stories a year. I agree that books sell more, but I also think it’s nice to sprinkle a short story every now and then. I’ve pubbed a few short stories. Two of them surprised me by selling pretty well. I can’t retire on the royalty checks, but they did pay some bills. Another one was published as a free story, introducing people to a follow up book. That sucker has been downloaded more times than I can count and has definitely led to people buying the book. Like anything, if the writing is good, it will find an audience. I know plenty of people who prefer short stories to novels. Short attention spans. Write your butt off and get it out there. Just make sure you get paid.


    • I hear you talking, Hunter – but the difference between you and the fellow I was talking to at kboards is that YOU have a good assortment of solid horror novels out there – and a built-in fan base. As far as I could tell, the fellow on kboards was just getting started. I didn’t see any books at all in his signature. So – in my opinion he would be better off concentrating on finishing that three book series and building up his fan base BEFORE thinking about taking the time to get those short stories out there. Once a writer has got a solid foundation of readers THEN he can get on into peddling short stories.

      I actually got started writing short stories for magazines such as CEMETERY DANCE, THE HORROR SHOW, FLESH AND BLOOD and the like back about 40 years ago. These days I am focused upon my longer work – however, I do fine with some of my collections of short stories – and I actually just sent a story off to an anthology that asked me to write something for them and I have another story that has also been asked for sitting on the back burner.

      At the end of the day this is a gig where you get to do just whatever suits you – and, there is no telling that what works for one author will work for another.

      Good hearing from you.


  2. Pingback: Are Short Stories a Worthwhile Promotional Tool? | E.B. Brown

  3. Excellent advice, Steve! In today’s world of people thinking they are busier than they really are or should be, some people do choose short stories for a quick read but this is not always a great solution.

    Great authors like us who are building a fan base can catch said busy readers with a chapter or two so the focus should be on novels. And then when short stories peek through they can be used as pieces to hold our fans over until the next big story.

    Keep at it!

    Thanks for reading and writing,

    Sarah Butland
    author of Blood Day the Short Story AND the Novella!


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