By Windy Lynn Harris
If you enjoy writing, selling short stories & essays could be an excellent way to bring in additional income, gain exposure, or add to your portfolio. If you are unsure about where to start. Writing & Selling Short Stories and Personal Essays will show you how. Windy Lynn Harris is the author and “a prolific writer, a trusted mentor, and a frequent speaker at literary events. Her long list of short stories and personal essays have been published in literary, trade, and women’s magazines across the U.S. and Canada.”
The book is divide into two parts. The first part talks about what goes into the writing of short stories and essays and the second part deals with how to sell your work.
Harris begins by defining a short story (a story of up to 20,000 words). Then she offers a few examples of well-written short stories.
In the next chapter, she defines personal essays (not be confused with “how-to” or informational pieces or academic essays.) As with the chapter on short stories, she includes examples so you can see what she is describing.
Next, there are chapters that speak specifically to the elements of writing such as voice, setting, and dialogue. There are examples as well as tips and exercises to help you develop your skills in those areas. I love when authors include specifics to help you improve on the topic they are writing about.
The last chapter in the first section shows you how to bring all the parts together to form a coherent story or essay.
Part Two gets to the nitty-gritty of selling your work.
Harris teaches you “how to analyze your finished creative work and match it to a market.”
First you need to categorize your work so you know its market. Is it genre fiction, literary fiction, flash fiction, micro fiction, short story, novella? What kind of essay is it? Literary, informative, narrative?
Then Harris explains how to match your story or essay to publications that will be a good fit for your writing.
She teaches you how to write a cover letter and format your manuscript. She briefly explains selling the rights to your work. And she offers suggestions on how to track your submissions.
The submission process is explained next and answers questions such as “How long will it take?”
There is a brief section on rejection and how to deal with it.
The final chapter is general writing advice. And in the appendix is a step-by-step submission plan for easy reference.
Writing & Selling Short Stories & Personal Essays is an excellent book, full of great information. If selling your work is your goal, it would be a worthwhile investment to have this book on your shelf as a reference tool. And even if you are not interested in writing short stories and essays, the writing exercises would be great for any writer looking to improve his or her craft. I took the writing exercises and laid them out in my bullet journal so I can work on them every week. I find the “Word of the Day” and the “Sensory Resource List” very valuable—short, easy exercises to expand my vocabulary.
*I received a digital review copy of this book via Edelweiss. I was not obligated to review this book on One Book Blog.*