In the publishing world, there’s one thing that’s almost always guaranteed: short stories don’t sell. But why?
Short stories are the first stories we’re ever introduced to, they’re our stepping stone into the world of storytelling. Whether they were told around campfires, painted on cave walls or sewn into tapestries, short stories have been passed down throughout the generations for as long as we’ve been able to tell them. From the Brothers Grimm to the Mabinogion to the many voices that make up the 1001 Nights, the short tales and fables our ancestors leave us are some of our first teachers: lessons such as ‘don’t stray off the path’ and ‘slow and steady wins the race’ are the product of short stories, not epic novels.
As adults we don’t need these kinds of stories – or so we might like to tell ourselves – we move on, quite literally, to bigger things, and yet nowhere does it say that short stories are only meant for children. After all, the Grimm’s Fairy Tales were initially meant for everyone, not just younger readers. To tell a story both well and concisely takes real skill, which is one of the many reasons why short story collections are so worth reading. Here at Seren we’ve published several collections, from Mary-Ann Constantine’s haunting All the Souls to Graham Mort’s upcoming Terroir, and they’re an ideal way to get a taste of an author’s style before you dip into their longer fiction.
Short story anthologies can be even better. With the recent publication of New Welsh Short Stories, we released a collection of stories by both new and established Welsh authors such as Jo Mazelis, Robert Minhinnick, and Stevie Davies just to name a few. Anthologies are the perfect way to read widely within one book, to try out new authors or revisit old favourites, meaning there’s always a story for everyone. They might even teach us the odd lesson or two.
By limiting ourselves to novels we miss out not only on some of the world’s most finely crafted fiction, but on the chance to discover new authors we may never have stumbled upon otherwise.