The short story – unless the author is a bestseller, or famous – is something of a neglected form. The big publishers often steer clear of it for the simple reason that it isn’t considered much of a money-spinner. (Self-publishers, sadly, often tend to stay away from it for much the same reason.) The trend, over the past decades, has been for big doorstep novels; short stories are, at best, seen as stepping-stones in an author’s career, and rarely as ends-in-themselves.
And so it might have remained, had it not been for the internet. (That and, no doubt, Alice Munro’s Nobel win, which helped to bring short stories in from the cold.) One of the great advantages of the internet, of course, is that it cuts out distribution costs almost entirely, which makes commercial viability a matter of small concern. However, one thing that has so far been rather lacking is a place on the web that is devoted to short stories, where this much-overlooked form can finally get the attention and respect it deserves.
I was pleased, then, to learn about the existence of CUT (short for Cut a Long Story…), which is described as “a writer’s e-publishing community platform, where professional and semi-professional writers can freely get their work digitally published and marketed to a global reader audience.” CUT was developed with the support of the UK Arts Council and NAWE (the National Association of Writers in Education), so it has an impressive pedigree. The site publishes short fiction by a range of writers, both new and established, and was created with one simple principle in mind: that short fiction should be easily available to readers, regardless of its presumed profitability. (Interestingly, and though CUT specialises in short stories, writers of novels, flash fiction and poetry can also publish there, so no one need feel excluded.)
Though writers can easily upload their work to the site, and at no charge, there is an editorial policy: the CUT team first inspect submitted work, to ensure that it is of publishable standard, and minor typographical errors are corrected. This will hopefully ensure that one of the bugbears of self-publishing – poor-quality works – will not be an issue.
CUT sells stories as individual eBooks; with each sale, the author will receive 50% of the proceeds. To submit a story, you first have to register, which will allow you to create an author profile. Once your registration has been approved, you can upload your stories, as Word files, accompanied by an image you would like to use as the cover. The Word file is converted into eBook format at no charge, and is then made available on the CUT site. Simplicity itself.
I think that this is an exciting opportunity, and I’d encourage writers of short fiction to at least take a look at the site. If you go ahead and publish, you probably won’t make much money, but that’s hardly the point. It’s a way to get your story out there, in front of readers’ eyes, regardless of how lucrative such a venture is likely to be.
What’s not to love?