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There may not be a lot of money in short stories, but they might be a good "wading pool" in which to get your feet wet and hone your skills before diving into the deep end of the novel pool.

More importantly, they give you credibility when talking to publishers and agents. If you just toss someone a huge novel and you say, "Oh, and I've never been published", it's going to get pushed to the bottom of the pile because odds are that you're not experienced or good enough at this point for novel length works (obviously, there are exceptions to this).

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