The Latina Book Club's mission is to promote Latina / Latino authors, which we do through book reviews, author interviews, publicity announcements, book of the month selections, etc. A new feature we have added this year is "Writers Wednesdays." The first Wednesday of each month we will feature a writer talking about ...writing. Happy Reading!
HOW TO PUT TOGETHER A SHORT STORY COLLECTION—IN ORDER TO SELL IT
by Teresa Dovalpage
But what to do with them? Not many publishers are interested in short story collections and some say straightforwardly that they won’t even look at them. “They don’t sell well,” “Readers prefer longer works” are common excuses.
Yet short story collections are not totally unsellable. I have published three of them (two in Spanish and one in English). Here are a couple of tips to improve your chances of marketing yours:
1) Present the book as a unit, instead of a compilation of unconnected stories.
A linked story collection has a better chance of catching a publisher’s eyes because you will be selling “a package.” It can contain novellas, short stories and short shorts.
In order to do that, you will need to review all the stories and change some characters’ names and background. Think of the possibilities to link one narrative to another. I am not talking about a complete change of the stories, which would amount to writing a new book, just a revision with that linking purpose in mind.
Can two characters from different stories be combined to form one? What do they have in common? Does the same setting appear in more than one story? Is there a way in which a story can complement another, either by providing a clue about its ending (which may come up as a surprise) or offering more details about characters and situations? Can a story become the background or the prequel for another so they all seem to be loosely link?
The key adverb here is “loosely.” There is no need of interjecting the same character in all of them or bringing up the same theme in a manner that seems fat-fetched.
2) Be selective.
After deciding on the stories I revised them all and started to make connections. Some are just mentions: a character from “A virgin for Cachita” is friends with the protagonist of “Poe, the Professor and the Papichulo.” In other cases, the bond is more complex: The lost boy in “La Llorona’s son” may or may not be a serial killer in “Menina and the Chupacabras”––it’s up to the reader to determine that. They all are self-contained stories but reading them together brings a different meaning to the book as a whole.
Compiling a short story collection is like making a necklace. Choose your beads, or your gems, and start stringing them together. Good luck!###
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Teresa Dovalpage was born in Havana and now lives in Taos, New Mexico. She has a PhD in literature, and currently teaches at UNM Taos. She also writes two weekly columns for Taos News. A bilingual author, she has published six novels, four in Spanish and two in English, two short story collections in Spanish and one in English. Her blogs are http://teredovalpage.wordpress.com/ (English) and http://teresadovalpage.com/ (Spanish).