I have a collection of short stories that I'm currently selling in the Amazon Kindle marketplace, and one of the biggest hurdles to actually getting my works read is lack of exposure.

My passive plan (once my KDP Select period is over) is to publish to multiple marketplaces, in order to have my works available to the largest audience possible. This may be a good strategy in the long run, but it doesn't solve the fundamental problem of pushing the most eyeballs toward my works.

In what ways can I market a collection of short stories that would be most effective, without being obnoxious in regards to volume?

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    I'm interested in seeing the answers to this. I have an author with an e-book collection of essays in the works, and I imagine that some of the solution to this may be applicable to that case. Commented Feb 15, 2012 at 18:13

5 Answers 5


I think we already have a question about generally marketing a book, so I keep the first part short (hopefully the second also):

  • Get a blog (oh, you have one, good!) and post about your stories, pricing, etc.
  • Tell it your family, friends, colleagues
  • Make meaningful posts to other forums, blogs, or other sites (like what you are doing here). Do not mention your books/short stories, just provide a link in your signature.

A more complete list is provided by David Gaughran.

Choose your pricing well:

  • You can offer on story for free on your blog to attract readers
  • Offer collections and single stories: e.g. take 99 cents for a single story and $2.99 for a collection of five, 4.99 for ten
  • Bundle your collections around a topic. Keep in mind, that you are not bound to seasons like a brick-and-mortar bookstore. You can publish a Christmas collection today. Readers find it, when it's time.

More on the new way of publishing and on how a publisher's brain should work, can be found on Mr. Smith's homepage (I have the feeling I link pretty often to his page, maybe I should stop that. Maybe not.)


I have a series of short stories that I have published under a pen name, and I had a lot of difficulty getting any exposure or sales. Each short story was a stand alone story, and I priced them at $0.99 each. I then combined them together (five stories) into a collection that I listed at $2.99. The first couple of months I would sell a few short stories and maybe five or six collections. Then, back before Christmas, I started giving away one of the stories for free at Smashwords, which I used to distribute to the Apple store, B&N, and Sony. Within a week, the story was free at all of those sites as well. I then used the link on my Amazon page to inform them of the lower price, and they matched it within a week.

In January, I gave away over 10,000 copies of the free book at Amazon and sold over 150 copies of the collection. I also gave away about 6000 copies at B&N and sold another 85 copies of the collection there. In the first two weeks of February I have already matched those numbers at Amazon. (B&N reports monthly through Smashwords, so I don't have any numbers for them.)

Right now with all the people that bought or received new e-readers for Christmas, there are a lot of folks going through the freebie lists looking for new titles. If you can get some of them to pick up your freebie then you may be able to "ride the wave". I have done something similar with a series of books and have had even better success with that.

As far as building up your brand or promoting yourself with a blog, I haven't done either. What I have done is write, write, and then write some more. If you have plenty of titles then you have a better chance of getting people to pick up other works. Free will get you noticed, but then it is up to you to make sure they want to go out and buy whatever else you have to offer. If the writing is good (especially on the freebie), then the rest will take care of itself. Nothing promotes you better than having more titles from which to choose!


The challenge with publishing these days, especially with the great supply of e-books, is getting people to look at your stuff among all the competition. There's so much to choose from; if I've never heard of you, what will get me to buy? Short stories seem to this consumer to have a big advantage: you can give one away for free and people can get a sense of your writing. I've bought several collections because I was able to read one story, either via the Kindle preview or via a posted copy on the author's web site.

Of course, the writing does need to sell the work too, but I think the biggest problem is getting the eyeballs in the first place.

This is a consumer's perspective; I haven't tried to sell.

  • A very good set of observations from the side of the consumer. Thank you for your answer! Commented Feb 15, 2012 at 18:56
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    This is where anthologies and magazines are useful, as well. They don't pay much, but they're great advertising. Someone who enjoys one of your stories there will be much more likely to seek you out for further reading.
    – Kate S.
    Commented Feb 16, 2012 at 11:52
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    Nowhere pays much :P
    – Standback
    Commented Feb 17, 2012 at 12:21

Who's your audience?

Answer that, and you'll know where to focus your efforts. Wherever that audience gathers; whatever the norms are among them; whoever within that group makes book recommendations people pay attention to.

Blogging and telling friends is nice. It also doesn't get you very far, because thousands of other eBook self-pubbers are doing precisely the same thing. The common reader is inundated with plugs for self-published work; as long as they're promotional plugs, most readers will ignore them simply because he comes across so many. Two exceptions to this:

  • Some works may have some special feature that'll grab some eyes even in a plug ("Ooooh, I love vampire time travel stories!" or "Hey, a how-to book on building origami tables - I never thought about it, but that could be cool!" or even "Cool, this book only costs a buck!").
  • If your book is good enough and you get it out to a large number of people, you might be able to get a word-of-mouth thing going, and then you're golden - you've got people recommending your work to friends; that's just about the best publicity there is. But, this is hardly something to rely upon; it depends heavily on the quality and accessibility of the book (which is practically orthogonal to marketing strategy...); and it's pretty much outside your own control.

So, knowing your audience and targeting them is extremely helpful - it helps you aim for the first, "special feature," reaction, and it focuses on groups most likely to have that reaction.

A great difficulty is that many ebooks (and short story anthologies even more acutely than novels) don't really have a clear audience beyond "readers" or maybe "readers within [Genre X]." And that's tough, because so many readers are spread out all over the place and it's hard to find a clear focus, and because such a broadly-defined group already has plenty of reading material to their tastes, and is already fending off similar broad plugs.

So what I'd suggest is to see if you can brand yourself. Figure out, in detail, what existing communities would most enjoy your work. Build around that. If you need to change, add, subtract - I'd strongly suggest doing that. Build up your brand, know who you're aiming for, figure out how to reach them. Each of those steps will be very individual to your particular work and style - but those are the steps worth figuring out, and taking.


I think first you need to spread the news out there that you have written some short stories it can be done by sharing a work in good social networking sites and once everyone is informaed then you should go forward with deciding on its price and sale thereafter.

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    Carol, this doesn't answer the question - he's asking how to spread the news. That's what marketing is. If you have specific advice about how marketing techniques for social networks, that would be a more helpful answer. I'm afraid that simply stating that OP should use them somehow is not very informative.
    – Standback
    Commented Jun 13, 2012 at 10:41

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