Short Stories and the UK Small Press

In 2006 Rachel Cooke wrote that "it is more difficult than at any time in the last 100 years to make money from short stories ", claiming that "In the Fifties, John Updike was able to keep his family by selling just six short stories a year". Nowadays All it not lost. Recently, 2 story collections won prizes ahead of novels

but they're rare exceptions and seem to have no trickle-down effect. Attempts have been made to get contributors to subsidize publication. At least one small press I know thinks that this is the only viable means of publishing stories nowadays

It's worth supporting these - the money goes to a good cause. It's no accident that these initiatives are all by small presses. The small press is traditionally associated with poetry, but of late their involvement with small stories has increased. A Report funded by story (the UK campaign to celebrate the short story) in 2004 noted that

Amongst the small presses they had in mind were

But small presses are feeling the pinch at the moment. The long-term solution, again, might be the WWW. Elizabeth Baines in her Short is beautiful article mentions short story webzines like Pulp.net, East of the Web, and Storyglossia. In From Page to Pixels: The Evolution of Online Journals in "Poets & Writers" Sandra Beasley writes that "The barriers are coming down. Selections from online magazines are now regularly included in the Best American Series of annual anthologies. Online editors can nominate their contributors for the Pushcart Prize. The National Endowment for the Arts permits up to half of one's qualifying publishing credits to be from online journals"

Maybe short stories stand to gain the most from this revolution. Sites like Everyday Fiction exploit the medium by allowing reader comments and voting.

Discussion Points

Updated June 2009
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Tim Love