Nathan Bransford, Author

Thursday, June 15, 2006

A Word on Short Story Collections

Publishers (and therefore agents) are very leery of short story collections because, typically, they dont sell. Its kind of a mystery because a lot of people like short stories and a lot of people read short stories, but, for whatever reason, they don't sell. Publishers will generally only publish short story collections if the author has received some national exposure (i.e. published in the New Yorker, the Atlantic, etc.), has graduated a top tier MFA program (generally Iowa) and/or if the author also has a novel that the publisher loves, and they plan to whet the publics appetite with the short story collection.

Yes, I represent short story collections. But. Rather than pitching your short story collection to an agent, who will likely be reluctant to read your work from the get-go, I would focus on trying to get your stories published. Once you have had some success publishing stories it will be much easier for you to find an agent - one of the best ways to find an agent is to be able to say that you have been published in some very reputable magazines or journals.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Nathan. So the answer is to get the story published in a magazine or journal and then come to you?


Nathan Bransford said...


More than one story, and it's best also if there's a novel as well.

hyperbard said...

Huh. This is very interesting and good information! I've written short stories for years, and never knew about the no-sell thing regarding collections. Is it the same across genres, or do short-story collections sell better in one vs. another? For instance, I tend to write more fantasy these days but have some older science fiction tales. Does fantasy sell better on this front, or science fiction, or are they equally difficult to get out there? (Just curious).


Anonymous said...

As an extension of Jess' question, should the short stories and novel all be related. Or different topics?

Thanks this is so helpful. Mary

Nathan Bransford said...

The best way to see what is selling is by looking at the shelves. I can't really answer the last two questions without overgeneralizing. Every project is different.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to be a pest. So, the short stories and the novel are not a package deal, they are sold individually?


Paola Opal said...

The thing about short stories is that maybe they don't sell well in print but they are an ideal format for online, since it's perfect for someone to read while on a coffee break (or pretending to work). If there isn't a market for them now, then I'd bet there will be one in the near future! That's my 2 bits.

Anonymous said...

Hi Nathan,

What are your thoughts on accepting a novel that has had a piece of it already published? I pulled a scene/section from my novel manuscript and had it published in an online litmag. Now I'm wondering if that was NOT the right thing to do, considering it's part of a larger novel that I want to get published.

I love your blog! It has been so helpful. Thank you -

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