Note: This piece was originally written as a guest post for FridayPhrases.com – however, they’ll soon be taking down their blog and guest posts. I am the first to sing the praises of micro-fiction and wanted to share this article with you guys!
How Micro-Fiction Can Help Build Your Fan Base
When I began writing micro-fiction (super short stories under 1,000 words – also known as flash fiction), I had no idea how beneficial it would become to building an audience for my fiction writing. And I didn’t realize that I’d come to love the freedom of writing short fiction so much that I would focus nearly all my energies on it and become known for my micro-fiction – I thought I’d become known for writing the next great literary novel! But as I’ve explored the world of micro-fiction, I’ve come to find it’s one of the most useful tools that writers have at their disposal when looking to gain more readers.
Now, I have no formal training in the area and am still learning the in’s and out’s of cultivating one’s online presence. But I can tell you one thing I know for certain when it comes to building your readership: people love short, bite-sized stories.
Think about it – we live in a culture that, thanks to the vastness of the internet, has become accustomed to a fast and instantly gratifying way of life. Want to know who the prime minister of Prussia was in 1862? Google can tell you in 0.6 seconds. Looking for something new to read? Goodreads is full of immediate recommendations. And you can download it to your Kindle or other e-reader without even needing to leave the house to go to the bookstore or library.
We’re saturated with options and expect quick, satisfying experiences so that we can move on to the next as soon as possible.
So how do you set yourself apart from the countless other authors out there? By appealing to society’s shortened attention span, that’s how! And what more perfect form to do so with than micro-fiction?
Not convinced yet? Here are some reasons you should consider using micro-fiction to boost your readership:
People Have Short Attention Spans
I just discussed this, but it’s worth repeating. Often, in today’s culture, people are busy and want to read something fast! They don’t have time to sit down with a novel. Sometimes they just want a quick story on their commute to work or before bed. Micro-fiction, when written well, gives the reader a whole story with an engaging character and concept – all in a very short amount of time.
Readers Will Take A Risk On Shorter Works
If you’re a new author, it’s hard to get people to commit their time to reading your material if they haven’t heard about you before. A reader is much more likely to read one quick 500 word story than an entire 200 page novel.
You Become a Stronger Writer
Micro-fiction is a challenge. It’s a different kind of writing that not many authors are familiar with. Figuring out how to write a balanced and captivating story in so few words is sometimes difficult, but it forces you to grow as a writer. And when your writing improves, people are more likely to read more of your work and recommend it to their friends.
It’s Easier to Produce More Content
Because the stories are short, you can produce a large amount of micro-fiction quickly (but make sure each piece is of a high caliber – nobody is going to stick around to read more of your stuff if they don’t like it in the first place). Being able to create finished pieces quickly allows you to have something new to present to your audience on a more regular basis. This keeps people coming back more often.
Ok, so you’re off madly scribbling some micro fiction by now, right? But what do you do with it when you’re done? How do you get your glorious words to the masses?! Here are some ideas on how you can market your micro fiction blog in order to find new readers (and keep your existing ones coming back):
Participate in #FP on Twitter! Not only do you get to practice the most micro of micro-fiction (only 140 characters!), but you also get exposure to all those who follow the #FP hashtag. Plus, you get to interact with the ever wonderful #FP community in the process!
Post Them to Your Blog
If your micro-fiction is a bit longer than 140 characters, you can post it to your blog or site. Personally, I post a new, free story every week on my site. I’ve found it helps to showcase my work and create a base of loyal readers.
You can self-publish your micro-fiction stories as an ebook. And this way you might even turn a profit! I recently released a collection of flash fiction as an ebook and found that people loved that they could download the short stories to their e-readers and smart phones and then read the stories on the subway as they headed to work in the mornings. My only advice here is that if you do self publish, you do it in the most professional way (that means getting other people to edit your work and having a professional-looking cover). There’s nothing that chases potential readers away faster than a poorly formatted ebook riddled with spelling errors.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of competitions for micro-fiction. Entering your writing may get you some exposure, and maybe even an award or title!
If you thought that there were a lot of micro-fiction contests out there, there are even more literary publications that now accept micro-fiction submissions. Like a contest, publication is a great way to reach new readers. Plus, you get to add the publication credit to your writing resume!
Other Micro-Fiction Writers
Reaching out to other writers of short fiction can do wonders for your readership. Making valuable connections with other writers helps you to learn more about the field. It also provides you with great opportunities (guest posting or cross-marketing) to get your writing into the hands of readers who love the micro-fiction length, but just haven’t heard of you yet.
Ultimately, don’t forget to have fun with micro fiction. The short form allows you to play around with different genres, characters, and concepts. And writing, no matter what length, should be fun. So enjoy your tiny tales! And make sure to let me know about your experience with micro fiction and your readers!