How To Sell Short Stories on Amazon Like a Pro

by Mark in 2 Comments — Updated Reading Time: 9 minutes

An Open Notebook With A Cup Of Coffee And A Laptop.

Are you interested in writing short stories and making money by publishing them?

If that’s a yes, then look no further than Amazon!

With over 300 million active customers, Amazon is the world’s largest online retailer, making it the perfect platform to reach a wide audience for your short stories.

And with the rise of self-publishing, getting your stories in front of e-readers and making a profit has become easier than ever.

But how can you ensure that your stories stand out from the rest and actually sell?

In this article, we’ll look at why you need to start writing short stories and provide valuable tips on how to start writing short stories that sell on Amazon.

Short stories are perfect for new authors who want to start with little knowledge about publishing. They offer a unique and exciting opportunity to write for profit and success.

Defining a Short Story

If you’re considering venturing into the realm of short stories (which I hope you are), you might be curious about what precisely constitutes a short story.

There aren’t stringent guidelines here. Short stories, occasionally referred to as novellas, are precisely what they sound like – narratives that are less extensive than full-length novels.

However, the definition can vary depending on the genre that you have a sweet spot for.

For instance, an Amazon Kindle single in the fantasy category—where books typically exceed 120,000 words—might be about 30,000 words long.

Meanwhile, a short fiction piece in the romance genre might be around five thousand words.

See the difference?

Believe it or not, several professional self-published authors actually deem writing a short story more challenging than crafting a longer novel.

With short stories, there’s a necessity to streamline the narrative, often resulting in less detailed settings, fewer characters, and perhaps a single pivotal event.

It’s crucial to avoid cramming too much into your short story to prevent it from seeming overcrowded.

Once you’ve mastered this art, the possibilities are limitless.

Why Short Stories?

A Girl Writing Short Stories On Her Laptop.

It might come as a surprise, but many of the world’s most renowned literary works are not sprawling epics like “A Tale of Two Cities” but rather succinct short stories.

These shorter narratives can wield just as much power as their lengthier counterparts, offering a range of benefits that full-length novels often find hard to achieve.

The Efficiency of Production

Short stories, by virtue of their length, are generally quicker to produce than novels.

Despite the challenges of writing, including outlining, research, drafting, editing, and proofreading, the overall time commitment for a short story is significantly less than for a full-length novel. The shorter format allows writers to streamline their creative process, leading to an efficient cycle of production.

As a result, authors can produce more assets in less time, paving the way for increased potential revenue streams.

The Potential for Passive Income

The concept of passive income is often hailed as a gold standard in the financial sphere, and short stories provide a unique opportunity in this regard.

Classic short stories, such as Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” or Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery“, continue to reach millions, be read, and generate income years after they were first published.

Consider the potential of your own collection of short stories, each selling for a modest price on a regular basis over many years. This could lead to a considerable amount of passive income accumulated over time, even as a side hustle, providing financial benefit long after the initial effort of creation.

The Emergence of a New Market

The digital revolution has brought forth new platforms for writers, and Amazon, the largest online marketplace, has recognized the potential of the short story format.

With its Kindle Vella platform, Amazon is specifically catering to short-form fiction, offering authors a new avenue to reach audiences by selling books and showcasing their creative writing skills.

Whether you’re crafting a series of interconnected science fiction short stories or publishing a serialized novel, Amazon provides the platform to meet the growing demand for quick, quality reads.

The Advantages of Digital Platforms

Transitioning to digital platforms has many benefits for authors.

Traditional publishing incurs a host of costs, including printing, shipping, and ISBN registration.

In contrast, digital publishing platforms like Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) allow authors to bypass these expenses. Authors can now write short stories and self-publish their works quickly and cost-effectively, reaching a global audience without the constraints of physical distribution.

Moreover, digital platforms allow for flexible pricing models that can be more attractive to consumers while still generating profit for the author. Even after accounting for Amazon’s fees of 35-70% per book, authors can still enjoy significant income.

There is also the opportunity to earn more money through Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited service, which pays authors based on the number of pages read by subscribers.

Ultimately, short stories offer an efficient and effective means for authors to generate both active and passive income.

The shift to digital platforms cuts costs and provides a wider audience reach, making the crafting of short stories a potentially lucrative venture.

Navigating the Amazon Marketplace for Short Stories

A Person Taking Notes On How To Write Compelling Short Stories.

While there are numerous platforms for publishing your work (such as Kobo, Wattpad, and Barnes & Noble), our attention will be concentrated on maneuvering the Amazon marketplace for short stories. Why Amazon? Simply because it commands over half of the total e-book market share, with this proportion rising to 75% on an international scale.

If your objective is to maximize the probability of selling your books profitably, Amazon is the platform of choice.

No two authors’ methods are identical, but it’s notable that successful short story writers often adhere to a remarkably straightforward and uncomplicated strategy.

Creating a Compelling Short Story with Minimal Details

Creating a gripping short story requires you to weave a compelling narrative with an exciting climax while ensuring simplicity.

You should concentrate on the plot development and be mindful not to get lost in extensive details about characters or settings. The key is to include enough depth to make your characters intriguing yet keep the narrative straightforward enough for readers to follow easily.

Identifying Your Niche for Success

Recognizing your target readership is crucial for the success of your short stories.

This understanding helps shape the kind of stories you write, whether they’re genre-specific or catered to particular topics.

The more aligned your stories are with your niche, the more likely they are to resonate with readers, thereby increasing the possibility of sales on platforms like Amazon.

Creating Characters That Readers Connect With

In short stories, the limited narrative space makes the role of characters particularly pivotal.

They are the essence that brings your story to life, so it’s important to create characters that are both intriguing and relatable to your audience.

This can involve developing intricate backstories or ensuring consistent and active behavior from your characters, which helps establish a deep connection with the readers.

Creating a Unique Plot to Stand Out

To make your short story stand out, you need to think creatively about your plot.

This could involve twisting a common storyline in a new and interesting way or coming up with a completely original concept.

Remember, though, an unexpected plot twist can be a great way to keep readers engaged and invested in your story.

Writing in an Engaging Style

The style of your writing can significantly impact how engaged your readers are.

Your story needs to flow well and draw readers in, making them want to read more. This might involve starting with an action scene, a piece of intriguing dialogue, or using humor and vibrant language throughout your story.

Variety is the spice of life, so don’t be afraid to experiment with different writing styles.

Editing for Perfection

After you’ve finished your initial draft, take the time to edit your work thoroughly.

Look for spelling errors, grammatical mistakes, and awkward or unclear sentences. Remember, nothing turns a reader off quicker than poor grammar or confusing language.

And don’t be afraid to get a second opinion – having someone else read through your story can provide invaluable feedback.

Creating a Strong Hook to Draw Readers In

The first few lines of your short story are crucial for grabbing your reader’s attention.

This might involve starting with an exciting action scene, an intriguing piece of dialogue, or a surprising event. Your goal is to make your readers want to keep reading, so try to think of a hook that will pique their curiosity and interest.

Creating Tension to Keep Readers Engaged

Tension and conflict are key ingredients in any story.

They create suspense and keep readers engaged, wondering what will happen next. This might involve creating realistic obstacles for your characters to overcome or withholding key pieces of information to create mystery. Remember, your goal is to keep your readers on the edge of their seats.

Keeping the Story Simple

Simplicity is key in a short story.

With limited space to tell your tale, it’s important to keep your plot and language straightforward and easy to understand. This means avoiding unnecessary subplots or characters and using simple, clear language.

Your goal should be to tell a captivating story in the most efficient way possible.

Creating a Strong Book Cover

Finally, don’t overlook the importance of a strong book cover! Although you should never judge a book by one, it’s still important.

It’s the first thing potential readers will see, and it can play a big role in whether they choose to read your story or not. This could involve hiring a professional designer or using a template from a design website.

Remember, your cover design should be eye-catching and accurately represent the content of your story.

Diversifying Your Monetization Approach with Short Stories

How To Sell Short Stories On Amazon Like A Pro Photo

Diversifying income streams from your short stories not only brings in additional revenue but also creates multiple platforms that elevate the visibility of your work.

Here are some alternative methods to enhance your earning potential.

Creating Collections

Creating collections is a strategic method to enhance the earning potential of short stories, commonly adopted by full-length authors who bundle a series of books into a box set.

You can employ a similar strategy once you have a significant number of short stories under your belt. Releasing a collection, such as a compilation of 20 short stories amounting to roughly 100,000 words, permits you to command a higher price point, which is equivalent to a full-length book, without demanding extra writing efforts.

An alternative yet effective tactic is joining forces with authors in your genre to compile a shared collection.

While this implies a split in royalties, it ensures amplified visibility due to collective marketing, thus potentially leading to higher sales and reader engagement.

It’s all about creating an appealing package while leveraging collaborative marketing efforts.

Using Previews

Leveraging your short stories as previews of your upcoming, larger works presents a unique approach to gaining both monetary and audience engagement benefits.

This method has been made significantly accessible with platforms such as Kindle Vella, which are designed to host episodic content.

By releasing your narrative in segments or chapters, you’re creating an ongoing connection with your readers, fueling their curiosity and sustaining their interest over time. This periodic engagement not only generates consistent revenue but also helps you build a loyal reader base eagerly awaiting the full version of your work.

Moreover, this serialization of your story allows you to gauge your audience’s reaction and adjust your narrative as you progress.

This interactive nature of the process can offer valuable insights into your writing style, content, and overall audience appeal, serving as a real-time feedback mechanism for your work.

Lead Magnets

Although the focus has largely been on fiction, non-fiction short stories hold similar potential.

These can function as “lead magnets,” attractive pieces that pull in potential clients to your business. Given their brevity, these narratives are cost-effective and can be swiftly produced, providing a time-efficient avenue for boosting revenue.

In essence, non-fiction short stories can be an efficient and captivating tool for business expansion.


Here are a few common questions that’ll help clear up everything:

Q: How Much Does It Cost To Publish A Short Story?

Publishing costs for a short story vary, with page count and cover type as factors.

Print costs for a novella (50-70 pages) average $1-$2 per page. High-quality printing could reach $3-$5 per page. Ebooks, however, cost significantly less to self-publish.

Q: How Do You Self-Publish A Short Story?

Self-publishing short stories involve printing on-demand or publishing as an ebook.

On-demand printing requires a manuscript file and cover images. For ebooks, many platforms, including Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), allow you to upload and sell your ebook with minimal requirements.

Q: How Do I Self-Publish A Short Story On Amazon?

Self-publishing on Amazon involves a straightforward process.

After signing up and logging into your account, upload a manuscript and a cover file, set a price, and submit your work.

For print-on-demand, your short story needs to be at least 24 pages. Amazon’s KDP team reviews the work before it goes live.

Q: Do Short Stories Sell?

Yup. Short stories sell well across various genres, with quality as a crucial factor. While it might take time to find an audience, short stories are becoming an appealing digital publishing frontier.

Consistently producing stories and growing an audience is key.

Q: Where Can I Submit Short Stories to Earn Money?

Numerous platforms, including Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited and Wattpad, allow you to post your stories.

Medium and Tumblr are also excellent places to share your work and build an audience. However, selling is often more successful on personal platforms like blogs or websites.

Q: How Many Pages Should Be In A Short Story?

A short story typically has fewer than 20 pages and ranges from 2000-8000 words. Stories exceeding 8000 words are considered novellas. Beyond novellas, you enter the territory of novels, which typically consist of at least 50,000 words.

The Bottom Line

Selling short stories on Amazon can be a lucrative and rewarding experience.

Short stories are a great choice for most writers and readers that want to read a quick, lighthearted read without committing to a longer story that may be harder to finish.

Amazon offers a great self-publishing platform for writers to get their short stories published and reach readers around the globe. You can earn money for your work, so it’s a great chance for new or experienced authors to showcase their talents.

From having a hook that captures readers’ attention to creating tension and keeping your work simple, these tips can help you write better stories.

By following these tips and taking action, you can increase your chances of success and build a loyal readership. So what are you waiting for? Get writing and start selling your stories today.

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