It’s not easy to make money as a writer, especially if your forte is fiction. A particularly challenging niche in fiction is short stories.
These standalone works of fiction typically range from 1,000 to 4,000 words and center around a single theme or mood. Many writers pen short stories for fun but never think to monetize them because they don’t believe it’s possible.
Fortunately, that has changed in the last several years, and there are now more opportunities than ever to make money writing short stories!
If you love writing short stories and are wondering where you can host your work to earn some cash, look into submitting your work to one or more of the following platforms.
1. Vocal Media
Vocal is a contributor platform that allows writers to publish short stories, poetry, personal essays, reviews, and just about anything else.
What makes Vocal unique from other platforms is their writing “Challenges,” which award impressive cash prizes to the top three entries. Sometimes these Challenges call for short fiction.
For example, a recent Challenge called for a post-apocalyptic short story featuring a heart-shaped locket. The prize for first place was $20,000!
Aside from Challenges, short story writers can get paid for their work simply by having people read their stories. Even if you have a free account, you can still earn $3.80 for every 1,000 reads. However, if you upgrade to the Vocal+ membership, those earnings go up to $6 for every 1,000 reads.
You can also get selected as a top story and earn small Creator Bonuses for your fiction.
Vocal also has a sizable community of supportive writers, with several active Facebook groups devoted to engaging with each other’s stories.
Once you connect your Stripe account, you can withdraw your earnings whenever you want, provided you have earned at least $20.
Medium is another contributor platform similar to Vocal, but it pays for the time members spend reading your story rather than a flat rate. Note: Your readers must be members for you to get paid for them.
Fortunately, Medium is a vast platform with over 700,000 paying members. Although most articles published there are non-fiction, some publications feature short stories and other works of fiction.
Writer’s Blokke, The Lark, Creative Cafe, The Junction, and Fiction Hub are just a few publications on Medium where you can submit your work to extend your reach and earnings.
You don’t even need to be a paying member yourself to be part of the free Medium Partner Program and make money with your stories. You only need to connect your Medium profile with your Stripe account, and Medium will automatically pay out your earnings monthly.
Wattpad is a platform specifically for fiction writers and is an excellent place for your work to find readers – and potential publishers.
It regularly hosts short story contests, not unlike those hosted on Vocal. You can win gift cards, swag, and unique opportunities. For example, the “The Magicians” contest had a grand prize of $10,000, plus the winner’s story was turned into a digital short!
Wattpad offers a few other ways to monetize your short stories through various programs. One is Paid Stories, where your readers have to pay to read your story. Another is Wattpad Studios, a co-partnership between Wattpad and entertainment businesses that turn stories into T.V., film, digital video, or print.
You need to have an established presence on the platform to qualify for these programs, but it’s a great place to get your work noticed!
4. Amazon KDP
Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing allows writers to self-publish their work on Amazon and start making money within 48 hours. It’s free to use and can help you reach a massive audience.
You have total control over how your price your book. Better still, you get to keep a large part of the profits – between 35-70% of the list price, depending on where the book is sold and whether you choose KDP Select or not.
The KDP Select program comes with additional benefits that boost your book’s visibility. However, it comes with exclusivity conditions which means your book is restricted to Amazon.
The conditions of the Select program expire after three months, so you don’t need to stay in the program forever once you publish it. That makes KDP Select an attractive feature for new writers who need help establishing a following and marketing their book.
The only caveat is that your book must be at least 24 pages. But if your short stories don’t meet this requirement independently, you can compile them into an anthology.
Although Penpee is a UK-based site, it is open to anyone globally, provided you are over 16 years old. You can start with their free account, which allows you to publish short stories up to 6 chapters or 7,200 words long, with a cap of 1,200 words per page.
You earn money when other members spend their Penpee credits to read your story. Credits are awarded to readers upon account creation, and they can also earn credits by logging in each day, referring friends, and writing reviews.
Every three credits a reader spends on your story translates to 6 pence, or roughly 8 cents USD. A user spends four credits to read your chapter, but you only keep 45% of those credits with a free account. If you upgrade to the premium membership, you get to keep 70% of the credits.
You can also earn extra money if your story ranks on their leaderboard.
Although it’s not the kind of platform where you can get rich overnight, it can add up if you build a following!
6. Literary Magazines
Although there are many accessible options for publishing your work online, don’t forget about the power of print! There are still many literary magazines that are looking for up-and-coming writers to submit their short stories.
AGNI is one such magazine that was founded in 1972 with the goal of finding and supporting new talent. They have even published writers who went on to win Nobel Prizes in literature. If your story gets accepted, they pay $10 per page.
Carve is another magazine that runs a quarterly print and digital magazine. They also host quarterly short story contests and pay $100 for short stories.
Be sure to read the submission guidelines carefully, as they sometimes have rules about publishing rights and specific submission windows. For more places that accept short-form content, check out this post.
Final Words About Making Money with Short Stories
One way to maximize your earnings with your short stories is to publish them in more than one place. It depends on the publication, but many of these platforms allow you to retain the rights to your work, which means you can republish them wherever you want. (For example, I routinely crosspost my short stories on Vocal Media and Medium.)
Try a few platforms, and you’ll likely find the one that works best for you. Then, with time and patience, you can build a following, and your short story earnings can become quite lucrative!