Most writers hope to one day be published. As a friend of mine said: 'everyone's a writer, but to be an author you have to put your work out there for people to see.' So how do you get published?
I don't know the definitive answer, but I know this: short stories help increase your exposure and lend you credibility as a writer. And I didn't figure this out on my own; recently a friend of mine (accomplished writer and bookworm) suggested I write some short stories and submit them to anthologies. This year I am getting my first short story officially published and lo! I am now an author, not just a writer - a small thing, maybe, but a very rewarding feeling for a lifetime hobby writer :) My short story The Winter Wolf will be published in the 3rd Annual Wolfwatcher Anthology by Thurston Howl Publications! The attached art is a WIP for the main character.
Anthologies are simply short story collections, and being published in a short story collection may not be your end game, but it has a lot of benefits:
1. It proves to readers and publishers alike that you have at least some writing skill. On top of that, most people agree that crafting a short story is more difficult to master than writing a novel - you must communicate a meaningful idea within a very succinct format. Which leads to -
2. A short story is good training even if you don't submit it anywhere. It forces you to cut unnecessary narrative wanderings and gives you a short, easily editable piece to get feedback on. Your friends and family are more likely to help you edit a short story than a novel (and you need help. I promise. All writers do.)
3. People hear (read) your name. It sounds simple, but it's often overlooked. You can't be noticed if there's nothing out there to notice. Even people who know you well might not realize you're actually serious about this writing thing.
4. Self-marketing material! It gives you something people can read quickly if they're really interested. It's much better to say 'I'm a writer, here's something quick to read' than 'I'm a writer, you can buy my 500-page book on Amazon.'
5. It makes you write. Yeah I know, amazing! Haven't you heard that Jack London committed himself to writing 1000 words a day without fail? (They say he did it, too, though I'm not sure who was counting...) The old adage is true: practice makes perfect!
I think that's enough reasons. Don't you?
In the words of Ben Stiller: