Catherine Horlick is the editor of a new short story website Pennyshorts
which is for readers and (hurrah!) for writers, of short stories.
I’ve got two stories on there already (!) and I asked Cathy to tell us a little more about herself and how she got the idea for Pennyshorts – and, importantly, how it works! (If you have any further questions, post them as a comment and Cathy will answer you!)
WHAT IS PENNYSHORTS?
www.pennyshorts.com is a website which makes short stories of all genres available for sale, directly to a reading device or email address.
Short stories are a very neglected art form and the site connects readers to talented writers of short fiction. Writers have an opportunity to showcase their work and readers can enjoy bite-sized fiction whenever they want it.
The stories are all carefully vetted, edited and proofread, so are free of the typos and other errors which plague so much e-published content. A pennyshorts app will soon be available.
HOW MANY STORIES ARE ON THE SITE?
Currently there are just over 100 stories of all genres on the site (July 2015), and more are being added all the time.
WHAT KIND OF STORIES ARE INCLUDED?
All genres, except writing for children. Funny stories are always welcome, as are snappy crime, thrillers, sci-fi and unconventional romances. I enjoy good ghost, fantasy and horror stories too, but tend to steer clear of anything nauseating. A good Coming of Age story is always a pleasure to read and I’ve also included Life Writing and Memoir.
There’s a lot of variety, but the stories are all engagingly written, self-contained pieces with great characters able to transport you to a different world over your morning coffee, and can liven up a bus ride or train journey.
SO HOW DOES IT WORK?
Browsers can pick a genre, and can also see a story sample, either the first paragraph or first half page.They can also see the author’s picture and biography, which often includes links to other work.They can choose a story by word-count, how recently it has been added to the site and can also check a story’s reviews.
A reader can either download an individual story for 50p, or can choose one of three pre-payment packages, e.g. 3 stories for £1. For each story chosen, the reader is emailed 3 files:a PDF, a MOBI or an EPUB file, depending on whether they wish to read the story on screen or on their reading device. Pre-paid stories can be downloaded anytime within a year, and each reader can maintain a library, which is visible on ‘My Pennyshorts’. Readers’ ratings and reviews are very welcome but are monitored for spoilers.
WHAT ARE YOUR SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS?
A minimum of 1,000 words, sent as a word document to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m fine with simultaneous submissions and also accept reprints, as long as the story isn’t available elsewhere online for free.
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE STORIES YOU REJECT?
I’m not keen on gross-out stories, so it was a definite ‘No’ to the man-eating spiders. I rejected an incredibly well-written story about a dog being beaten to death as it was deeply traumatic and haunted me for days. I reject anything tired, predictable and clichéd: the standard must be high, to justify charging.I’ve had no shortage of submissions, so far the acceptance rate is c. 15-20%.
DO YOU PAY AUTHORS?
Yes! Authors accrue 50% of each pay per click download, and a pro-rata share of the prepayment packages each time their story is chosen by a reader. Payment isn’t the only author benefit:reputable agents and publishers can access the site for free. Authors are also welcome to include links in their biographies, either to other work or to their websites. Many of my authors are highly successful and published already, but it would be fantastic if a previously unpublished author were to be discovered thanks to pennyshorts.
Catherine Horlick comes from a family of bookworms and she’s been writing prose and poetry since she was at school. Her first novel, ‘The Wrong’un’ will be published later this year and one of her short stories, ‘By George’ appears on the site.
She has an MA in Creative Writing, and over the past 10 years has been a member of various creative groups. Over that time she’s come across so many wonderful short stories with no outlet which, as she says, “are mouldering away on hard drives”… and that’s what gave her the idea for Pennyshorts.
Follow Pennyshorts on Facebook here and on Twitter: @pennyshorts
And if you’re interested in short stories, do think about supporting Catherine in her new venture – not just by submitting stories but maybe even by buying a few too…! (*lecture over*)