It’s a year since my short story collection was published, and I’ve really enjoyed having it out in the world. Not only does it look gorgeous, it’s been received more positively than I expected, although that might be down to the fact that my expectations were rather low. As I wrote in a prepublication guest post, Greater than the sum of its parts? Assembling a first short story collection, it wasn’t a long-standing ambition to produce a collection partly because, I assumed, short stories don’t sell. Although mine has sold in very low numbers, I’ve been pleasantly surprised.
Handselling at events over the summer, including at WH Smith’s where I’ll be on my youngest book’s birthday tomorrow, Becoming Someone has done as well as my debut novel, Sugar and Snails, which, as I’m careful to tell prospective buyers, was shortlisted for the 2016 Polari First Book Prize. I’m sure the cover helps, but my novels are enticingly packaged too. People tell me they like short stories – although a fair number tell me they don’t!
While, on the one hand, short stories on the theme of identity might come across to some as too general – lots of fiction is about identity, as I wrote in this post for Shiny New Books: Concepts of identity in 9 classic novels and this for the IQ blog: Perspectives on identity in five of my favourite contemporary short stories – it’s perhaps more accessible than trying to summarise a novel. It’s a concept that appeals to writers as well as readers, as evidenced by the wonderful response to my guest post Don’t let your fears prevent you from embracing your identity as a writer at Sherri Matthews’ Summerhouse.
Needless to say, I’m chuffed with the positive feedback, both in person and online:
I was delighted to find that every single one of the forty-two stories in Becoming Someone is a hit! Anne Goodwin has such an observant eye for human motivation and behaviour Stephanie Jane, Literary Flits
I found myself thinking about the issues of identity more deeply than I have ever before. It is a special ability to crack such a great punch with so few words. Although the stories share a theme they are also unique too and very compelling Marcia, Whispering Stories
This is a collection of 42 short stories and no two are the same. The writing style for each differed as well, depending on the character. The POV varied and there was even one story where the narrator spoke in first person and wouldn’t give their name. It kept the book interesting and made me wonder what sort of story and character would await me on the next page. Overall, they were all well written. Rachel Poli
a varied collection which shows you different aspects of identity and what gives an individual a sense of self. You can dip into it or pick a story to read and can be sure that there will be a thought-provoking look at what it is to 'be'. In short: Powerful writing which examines what makes a person. Books, Life and Everything.
loved the way the author was willing to play around and try different techniques, including one story in second person. Highly recommended. Dorothy Winsor
To call these stories 'psychological studies' might not be quite accurate, but it's close ... All of them share Anne Goodwin's perceptive, sympathetic insights. Our Book Reviews Online
Goodwin’s grasp of our social awareness (or lack thereof) and how we deal with trauma, pain, and embarrassment is on full display in these stories, and it reminds us to remind ourselves that, perhaps, there is a better way to treat ourselves and each other. He Writes Words
Her stories can be intriguing, confronting, thought-provoking or humorous. Some may haunt you with her incisive glimpse into life in the raw. Others may surprise with a twist in the tale. Norah Colvin
What I am going to do, which will be a new departure for me, is to self-publishing a small e-book of three of my prize-winning short stories to sell cheaply and/or give away for free (via my newsletter) as another way of promoting my fiction overall. Of course, I could have done this years ago, but didn’t think it worth the effort. Who wants short stories, after all?
Do you read short stories and do you buy collections? If you’re a writer, do you do better with novels or short stories? Although this post seems more narcissistic than originally intended, it’s not all about me! What’s your experience – do short stories sell?
Although there are several couplings in my collection, and a few happy endings, there’s nothing I’d classify as romance. Which made this week’s flash fiction challenge a challenge! Until I decided to revisit the young woman in “My Beautiful Smile” (as in the video above) and give her a romance. Here’s her 99-word story:
She didn’t smile all evening. He didn’t look her in the eye. But they both saw the funny side of their blind date.
Their wedding photos were unusual. Authentic: his white stick and her downturned lips ruled out fairytale illusions. They didn’t bother dressing up.
They’d both been rejected. Pitied. Defined by what they lacked. For her, facial muscles. For him, one sense out of five. Now she had a spouse who only saw beneath the surface. Now he had a lover who thought looking overhyped. They ditched diagnoses – Moebius syndrome, blindness – for honesty and humour. A perfect match.