How To Sell Short Stories For Money

How To Sell Short Stories For Money

What if I told you that you could sell short stories for money? Lots of us have written short stories before -whether it was assigned or you’re a natural wordsmith. I bet you’ve written a short story or poem in your lifetime.

Confession : I often write short stories about my little cat 🙂

But writing short stories don’t pay the bills, right? 

Wrong! I’m here to tell you that you can actually write short stories for money. The pay varies, so this is great if you’re looking to start a side hustle or make a stable income.

Selling short stories is an easy way to make money and gain some exposure if you’re looking to create a name for yourself. 


Some of the links on here are affiliate links and I may earn if you click on them, AT NO EXTRA cost to you. Hope you find the information here useful! Thanks.

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What Are Short Stories? 

We should probably look into what is considered a short story before we delve into the whole “make money selling short stories,” part. 

According to various online sources and the encyclopedia, a short story is a short work of fiction or nonfiction that is shorter than a novel or longer than a fable. So, essentially a piece of literature that typically takes a short amount of time to read from start to finish or one that is self-contained.

Some categories of short stories include but are not limited to:

  • Poems
  • Mini-sagas
  • Novelettes– A novelette can easily be described as a short novella or long short story. A novelette falls in the range of 7,500 to 19,999 words. 
  • Haiku
  • Flash Fiction– Is an umbrella term used to refer to very short works of fiction that provide a compelling story and range between 1,000 words or less.

But what makes a good story? What sets apart Mark Twain, Edgar Allen Poe and the average writer? A foundation of good story can be comprised into 5 key elements:

  1. A plot: 

Short stories -being so short, only have room for one plot in the storyline. One and a half if you’re going to squeeze in a twist. 

  1. A theme: 

Short story themes should be clear and impactful.

  1. Characters:

Great stories have great characters but this can take a long time to develop. Keep your characters exciting and limited.

  1. A time frame: 

Most short stories can be read in a single sitting or a brief span of time. They focus on a limited amount of time within the plot.

  1. A setting: 

Where does your story take place? Is it someplace new to the readers? Think about how JK Rowling’s Harry Potter took off. It was acompletely different world, one unlike any other we’d seen in the literary world.

Why would people buy short stories?

So far we’ve covered what a short story is and what makes a good short story but who would buy these stories and why? Before we can sell short stories for money, let’s look into why people would buy short stories.

People buy short stories for numerous reasons. The main one being content. Publishers, Magazines, Websites, Bloggers, heck anyone who needs content would buy a short story. 

Magazines for instance, are made up of hundreds of pieces written by different writers. They’re always in need of content and by submitting short stories to a magazine, you could make money for your short stories and reach a huge audience.

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    What are the most popular short stories that people buy?

    So, let’s get started and make money writing short stories.

    Hold your horses, amigos. Before you start anything, it’s always good to look at what sells. 

    You can look at what’s selling and hitch a ride on the bandwagon or you could find what’s missing in the market and pave your own way. 

    Some of the best selling short read categories are:

     Romance, erotika, thriller, suspense, and scifi-fantasy.

    How much can you get paid for a short story?

    Question: How much can you make trying to sell short stories for cash? 

    This isn’t a get rich overnight scheme, (well not this section at least. I’ll let you be the judge of that a little later on in the article) but you can have a lucrative side hustle or make a decent income by writing short stories.

    How much you make when you write short stories for money is dependent on the magazine or publisher you pitch to or the short contest you enter (this is the get rich overnight thing I was telling you about).

    Each magazine offers different rates for submissions. Publications will buy a story as a whole or pay you word for word.

    You can also make a handsome sum by applying to short story contests. A few notable publications have these contests and they’re quite common.

    The cash prize and or other supplementary prizes listed below are those known to me at the time of writing this article. They are subject to change.

    Here are a few short story competitions:

    Harpers Bazaar invites entries of up to 2,200 words. They have a theme each year and the winner of this year’s competition won a  two-night stay at the historic Grantley Hall in Yorkshire, England, and had their work published in the magazine. 

    The winner of this contest received $1,260! Second prize won $640 and third prize is $320. The top 20 were published in the Scottish Arts Club Anthology. Not bad, eh?

    Howard Frank Mosher Short Fiction Prize

    • Ran by Hunger Mountain, this competition offers its winner a $1,000 cash prize and publication. Stories had to be around 8,000 words in length there was a $20 entry fee. 

    I don’t know about you but I might enter one of these competitions myself to make a quick buck or maybe even win a nice trip somewhere.

    Where to sell short stories for money

    If you’re not looking to enter short story competitions or you’re going to and you also want to make a perpetual income, I hear you. There are so many platforms where you can sell short stories for money.

    If you want to start making money from short stories, here are a few places to sell short stories:

    Part of publishing giant MacMillan, Heroes & Heartbreakersspecializes in short stories and novellas in the romance genre. They pay $1,000 advance but charge 25% royalties if they purchase a piece.

    Zizzle’s audience is geared towards kids from age 11 through to adults. They’ll pay you $100 for each accepted flash fiction piece that averages between 500 and 1,200 words.

    A science fiction magazine that pays 8–10 cents per word.

    No introduction needed, this is possibly the most profitable magazine in the world. They have a huge and loyal readership. They accept unsolicited works and getting published in their magazine is the winning prize.

    The Sun Magazine is another publication that needs no introduction. They will pay writers to write both fiction and non-fiction and also poetry. Non-fiction and fiction pieces start from $300 to $2,000 whereas poetry ranges from $100 to $250.

    Fireside Fiction Company is a magazine specifically for short stories. They pay for 12.5 cents per word and for you artists out there, they pay $400 for a full-colour illustration.

    Not a fan of fiction? I got you, here are some magazines that will publish nonfiction stories and pay you for it.

    You could have your piece in the world-famous Reader’s Digest. Send them a true story about you, in 100 words or less and get paid $100 for it.

    Reader’s Digest Asia is an extension of Reader’s Digest and they have a couple of categories that they need writers regularly for:

    -Inspiring stories or life-changing experiences

    800 to 1,000 words for the price of $250 per published stories

    -Acts of kindness

    100 to 500 words for up to $100

    -Anecdotes and jokes 

    Around $50 to $100

    -Tales of your amazing animals 

    Up to 300 words for pay up to $100

    • Bella Magazine

    Get paid up to $1000 when you share your personal story with Bella Magazine. Send them a brief outline and someone from the magazine will contact you for further details.

    If you sell your story to Take A Break, you could earn up to $2,000. It’s really easy too, head on to their website where you fill in an online form. You have to send them a brief outline and voila!

    Real People Magazine will buy your story for a fee. How much that is, I can’t say. The magazine does a full interview with you (usually over the phone), asks you to provide relevant details and pays you a fee that is agreed upon by both parties.

    Here’s a really cool one. Introvert Dear publish articles about introversion. They also look for articles about Highly Sensitive People on their new website, Highly Sensitive Refuge. If they publish your piece, you could make $40

    You can earn $100 by submitting your transformation story to Healthy Mummy! Tell the readers about your journey and include good quality photos to show your transformation.

     All you super mama’s out there, this is your time to shine even more than you already do.

    How to sell short stories for money on Amazon?


    Still not sure how to sell short stories online? I’m going to let you in on a little secret. 

    If you’re not too keen on having your pieces published in magazines or stories being bought, you can publish short stories online for money. That’s right, you can be your own publisher with the help of Amazon. 

    Amazon gives you the option to sell digital and print copies of your work. This was, you can publish short stories for money. The company makes it easy to upload and format your story on their website. 

    They print and ship the copies on demand for you, so all you have to do is follow their guidelines and upload your piece. Easy and just like that, you’re published. 

    Depending on the purchase price you set and the plan you opt for when you decide to self-publish, you can earn anywhere from 35%-70% of the purchase price.  What’s great about publishing on Amazon is that you don’t have to figure out the logistics of printing and shipping.

    There’s a huge demand in ebooks these days. Specifically, Amazon’s “short reads” section, these are books that have less than 100 pages to them. Publishing on Amazon also means you make money in perpetuity. 


     When you sell a short story to a publisher, you’ll get a one-time payment but with Amazon, you receive the pay out from the royalty every time a copy of your story is bought. 

    Factor in the fact that your piece will be available on the biggest online marketplace? That’s a great deal if I can say so myself.

    Tips to succeed selling short stories online

    We’ve learned how to make money writing short stories online, places to sell short stories, and even the elements that go into writing a great story. But that’s not all I have for you my dear readers.

    I want you to succeed, side hustle or main revenue. If you want to make money selling short stories, here are some extra tips to increase your chances of making that happen:

    • Get some online training to become a freelance writer

    I took this awesome course that taught me how to improve my writing, pitch to new clients, where to find jobs and most importantly, it has a 30-day template you just need to follow to get to your first $1k.

    sell short stories online by taking a writing course

    • Play to your strengths:

    Choose the right magazines to submit to.

    • Stick to the guidelines

    Most magazines won’t consider your story if you don’t follow this rule. Be sure to follow the instructions provided by the site to the letter. Nothing will blow your chances of getting published faster than submitting a story that doesn’t meet the guidelines. 

    Pay attention here: some guidelines will specify what can or can’t be in the story (e.g. explicit sex scenes, racial and political issues, religious themes, etc.).

    • Research

    Decide which magazine you’re going to submit to and study it. Get a feel for their tone and what kind of stories they publish. 

    You can also get a good sense of their readership by seeing what kind of ads they place in their magazine. This way you can gear your content towards their readers.

    • Join a group:

    If you’re interested in fiction opportunities out there, join a like minded support group on Facebook or subscribe to platforms like Poets & Writers to get more ideas of where to submit.

    I hope this article has shown you that you can sell short stories for money.  It definitely isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme (I guess it is if you won all the writing competitions you entered). 

    But with magazines looking for new content, self publishing and our need as humans to consume information in short amounts of time, there’s definitely a growing interest in the industry.

    People want to read more even though they have less time and you can solve that problem with your short stories. They people get to read and you get to make more selling your stories. 

    I’d say that’s a win-win situation 🙂 

    Related articles on Freelance Writing: 

    How To Sell Short Stories For Money

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