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Short stories and poems - what's the point?

I am often contacted by authors who are writing short stories, and want to know what their chances of getting published are. There is good news and bad news.

The bad news is that most publishers will only publish short stories if you are an established author.  Even the most well-known authors will sell fewer books if they write short stories, and bookshops stock fewer short story collections on their shelves.

So what's the good news then? Short story competitions. They are a fantastic way to get feedback, and - if you do well - are an important element of your writing experience and a useful way of illustrating to editors and agents that your work has been audited and judged to be of value.

Magazines sometimes publish short stories too, which is a more likely route for a short story writer to become a published author.

Poetry is another area that is poorly represented in trade publishing, but again, it's often the focus for competitions, and magazine publishing.

It's also worth joining the Poetry Society, to meet up with like-minded writers, and go to poetry events.

Ultimately if you are a poet, or a writer of short stories, that's what you are. Don't let commercial considerations get in the way of how you write, but be aware of other routes than agents and trade publishers.

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