Today's guest is Samantha Tonge.My fourth romantic comedy, Game of Scones, has just been released by CarinaUK Harlequin. I signed my first ever novel publishing contract with them in September 2013 and it has been a whirlwind of reviews, rankings and blog tours ever since. Before that, I wrote short stories and have sold over fifty to The People’s Friend. So what, in my opinion, are the differences, between being an earning short story writer and novelist?
Writing time is limited, once you become a published author, especially if you write for a digital-first imprint. The turnaround is very quick and you are expected to do a lot of promotion yourself. When I was a short story writer, I just had a website and belonged to Facebook. Then my agent advised me to join Twitter, whilst we were subbing my debut novel Doubting Abbey. Next my new publisher suggested I set up profiles with Pinterest , Tumblr and GoodReads as well. It was a huge shock, those first few months, realising just how much of my time would go into tweeting and blogging about my novels to get word ‘out there’. Whereas all I had to do when writing short stories was, well write. That was it. Paid and done.
For the first couple of books, I’d say earnings were much the same, but then with novels, as your back catalogue grows, so does each royalty cheque, as each new book encourages sales of the ones before. Whereas with short stories, really all you are being paid for is the latest work. So whilst at first you feel you are putting in lots more time for not much more profit as an author, gradually that situation is reversed.
Also, as a short story writer, I felt more like an employee, sending off my work, having it accepted, getting paid... Whereas as a digital-first novelist, I now empathise with anyone who is self-employed. I work long hours, especially around book launches, as I know a lot of my income is dependent on spreading word of my books. This is not the case with writing short stories, which for me was much more of a nine til five job.
So if your dream is to become a published author, just realise your writing day will change – unless you land a deal with a big publisher who allocates you your own publicist! And if you reach the dizzy heights of some authors (not me!), there will also be real-world, not virtual, book tours, public speaking and lots of events. That prospect is rather exciting and I wouldn’t change a thing about the path my career has so far taken. However I look back on my short story days with great fondness. Hopefully, at some point, I may find time to write shorts again – although I’m not holding my breath!