Novels, how-to guides, and content writing for other companies are not the only way to make money off your writing! You can earn cash on your creative storytelling, and I’m not talking the long-form stuff. Short stories and poems have a place, too.
Like short-form video content, people crave ways to be quickly entertained and zone out of reality in smaller bites of time. The market is rife with opportunities for short storytellers to be monetarily rewarded for their talent.
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7 Ways to Make Money Off of Short Stories, Flash Fiction, and Poetry
1. Enter contests that offer cash prizes
Know that not all contests are created equal. Some contests charge such a high entry fee that you should weigh your odds of winning against the cash prize amount, even if legit. Make sure you have a better chance of winning money than losing it.
2. Submit to Literary Journals, Magazines, and Digital Publications
In my research, I found a boatload of printed and digital publications that specifically seek short stories, flash fiction, and poetry, AND they pay you for it. Some, but not all, have a nominal fee for submission to cover the costs of a staffer reading all of those entries. But, there’s no harm in taking a shot at being selected for one of these publications. A few things to keep in mind: some allow simultaneous submissions (meaning submitting one piece of work to multiple publishers for consideration at once), and some don’t. Some have specific windows for submissions, specific topics and genres, and word counts; I’ve found the definition of a short story and flash fiction varies widely. The rights to your story and how long you do or don’t have them also vary.
AGNI, the literary magazine of Boston University, accepts poetry and short fiction, and other categories. It’ll pay up to $150 for published submissions, depending on page count.
The Arcanist is a digital literary magazine that publishes science fiction, fantasy, and horror flash fiction (1,000 words or fewer). It accepts submissions year-round and pays .10 cents per word.
Asimov’s Science Fiction is a magazine for science fiction stories. It pays 8-10 cents per word for short stories up to 7,500 words.
Boulevard, an award-winning journal, accepts fiction, poetry, and non-fiction and encourages writers with no credits to submit their work. They’ll pay a maximum of $300 for prose and $250 for poetry.
Carve dubs itself “honest fiction” and accepts short stories and poetry. It pays up to $100 for stories and $50 for poetry.
Craft explores the art of prose, it says, for both emerging and established writers. For short stories, the publication will pay $200, and flash fiction stories will earn $100.
Fireside started as a magazine specifically for short stories, intending to pay writers fairly. For poems, you’ll earn a $100 flat rate. For short stories, you’ll earn 12.5 cents per word. Fireside accepts stories during open submission windows only, with a maximum word count of 3,000.
Flash Fiction Online accepts 500-1,000 word flash fiction stories and pays $60 per published story.
Iowa Review is part of the University of Iowa writing program. It publishes short stories and poetry but only has a small submission window from September 1 to November 1. It’ll pay poets $1.50 per line and .08 cents per word for prose.
The Missouri Review accepts fiction and poetry. Fiction can be 9,000 – 12,000 words, and flash fiction can be 2,000 words or less. Any published fiction is in the running for an annual $1,000 prize. Otherwise, it pays $40 per printed page.
One Story focuses on publishing short stories and supporting the authors who write them. This publication accepts short story submissions between 3,000 and 8,000 words. It pays $500 for an accepted submission.
U.K.-based magazine The People’s Friend describes its readers as “traditionalists,” so be sure to read some of the content before submitting to make sure your work is a good fit. It accepts serials, short stories, and poetry and pays anywhere from $90-$110 per submission, depending on experience.
Ploughshares is the literary magazine of Emerson College. It accepts fiction less than 7,500 words and poetry up to 5 pages long. Ploughshares charges $3 per submission and pays $90 minimum and $450 maximum per author.
The Sun “radically intimate and socially conscious” writing. It pays fiction writers up to $2,000 per published work and poetry writers up to $250 per published poem. It rarely publishes work longer than 7,000 words.
Vestal Review dubs itself the “Longest-Running Flash Fiction Magazine on the Planet.” It accepts all genres, but it defines flash fiction as less than 500 words. It charges $3 per submission, and contributors receive $50 per published piece.
Zazzle accepts short stories geared at teens and families. The publication will pay $100 for a flash story (500-1,200 words) and $250 for a short story (2,000-4,500 words). Zazzle charges a $3 submission fee per story.
3. Subscribe to Opportunity Notifications
Subscribe to newsletters from websites such as Duotrope (though they charge a $5 fee per month), Submittable, and Poets & Writers to be notified when new submission opportunities become available. For a glance at crowd-sourced data on pay scales for various publications, head to WhoPaysWriters.com.
4. Think Outside the Box
There are non-traditional routes for getting your work published, especially when it comes to poetry and flash fiction. Think greeting cards and prints that you can sell yourself on several website marketplaces traditionally held for crafters or publications that don’t usually publish poetry or short stories but welcome fictional content relevant to the times.
5. Apply for Grants
FundsForWriters.com keeps an ongoing list of grants for creatives of all types. Grants award money to creatives to fund the creation of their art. Most often, grants do not need to be repaid.
6. Publish Your Short Story and Poetry Collections
Assemble a booklet, either digital or printed, of your short stories and poetry and market it for sale. Sell it online, use your social channels to spread the word, or take printed copies to local shops.
7. Start a Newsletter
Have you discovered other ways to earn income from your short stories and poetry? Or perhaps one of the ways mentioned above worked great for you? Please share your tips with us on Twitter @SoCreate, or email me! Thousands of writers will greatly appreciate it 😊
So many artists create just for the sake of creating and don’t need (or want) to make a living at it. There’s an argument to be made for that route, too. Like screenwriter Ricky Roxburgh once told me, “Just because you like doing something doesn’t mean you need to make money off of it.” That resonated with me, but I do want to see artists be creatively and financially fulfilled if that’s what they want. What a world we would all live in if we could pursue our passions and nothing else!
To doing what you love,