Playing the Short Game #3: How to Make Your Short Fiction Work for You With Douglas Smith

Marketing Your Short Stories? It All Starts With Licencing.

So far, only Douglas Smith has won prestigious Canadian Aurora Awards for works in both official languages. During a June workshop, he highlighted this unique achievement to underscore a crucial link between short story licensing rights and dynamic marketing.

Beyond writing skills, prudent negotiation of Media, Language, Occurrence, Geographic, and Reversion licensing rights led to success in three markets and two languages.

Douglas understood the importance of each component of licensing rights—then took care to protect them. First, he negotiated English printing rights to a publisher for Canada only. Because he retained publishing rights outside Canada, he then found another publisher to translate and print his story in France. A Quebec firm noticed the French version of his story and negotiated second rights to print his story there. Voilà! A path opened to two awards and three printings of one short story!

Of course, the same work could have been licensed for English in the USA, for a Spanish market, an audio version, an eBook, or dozens of other combinations.

It’s all part of a process Douglas Smith likes to call “A Writer’s Magic Bakery”—having your cake and eating too. Once a writer deals with the tedium of learning and exercising short story licensing rights, the reward of selling those rights begins. With foresight, scrutiny, and a well-founded strategy, writers can sell the same story over and over again. More income. More exposure. More recognition.

In his book Playing The Short Game—How to Market & Sell Short Fiction, Douglas shares extensive knowledge he’s gained writing and selling short stories over more than two decades. He also provides strategic tips to use short stories as a stepping block to novels, working with traditional avenues, publishing yourself, creating collections of short stories, and winning recognition as a writer.

You can order the book at his website

Under the Writing Guides tab, you’ll find print and eBooks. Use promotion code WCYR15 for a members’ discount. Douglas will also do a Facebook Live follow-up session on Thursday, June 25 at 7:00 p.m. If you missed this excellent virtual session or would just like to ask him more questions, join the discussion at

Upcoming Events

Please note, all upcoming events listed will be online. Pre-registration is required. Click on the links below for details.

Writing Dialogue Plus AGM with Kim McDougall – July 12, 1:00pm to 4:00pm

Sizzling Synopses with MJ Moores – August 13, 7:00pm to 9:00pm

Open House: Writing Books with Page-turning Tension with Molly O’Keefe – September 13, 1:00pm to 4:00pm

Gary D. McGugan is author of a trilogy of fast-paced novels of corporate intrigue—Three Weeks Less a Day, The Multima Scheme, and Unrelenting Peril. In April 2020, he released Pernicious Pursuit, an international thriller already earning positive reviews. He has been elected as Co-Chair of WCYR starting in September 2020.

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