I have a friend who cannot persuade the manager of her local branch of Waterstones to stock her collection of short stories. Why not? ‘Short stories don’t sell,’ he told her. Has this man never heard of Alice Munro? William Trevor?? Jhumpa Lahiri??? (I could go on and on, but I’ll spare you the very long list of authors who have successfully published short story collections recently). The truth is, despite my misgivings expressed elsewhere in this blog, the short story seems to be enjoying something of a mini-renaissance. And yet there remain few mainstream outlets for the short story writer in the UK (unless, of course, you are already an established novelist).
I was intrigued, therefore, to hear of a new cyber-venture launched in the US yesterday. CellStories.net describes itself as a ‘mobile publisher’. It offers a new short story, every day, direct to your mobile phone (or ‘cell phone’ if you live in the States) - free. The founder of CellStories.net, Dan Sinker, believes print is dead. He also thinks the Sony Reader and Amazon’s Kindle are the modern day equivalent of the laser disc, according to an interview with him in Publishers Weekly. The future of digital reading, he says, is the mobile phone.
Sinker is currently seeking submissions. He is looking for 1500 to 2000-word short stories, personal essays, narrative journalism, creative nonfiction and more experimental storytelling forms – but the emphasis is on story. You won’t get paid, but if you think Sinker is right and this is the future of short story publishing, here’s your chance to be in at the start.