Short stories can be a good starting point for authors uncertain which direction to take in their writing career. It can also help authors explore new genres and stretch their writing skills. Additionally, short stories in fan fiction on many popular websites can help build an audience base for marketing your future novels.
Authors can also submit their short stories to print magazine and ezines for publication (and often times small payment), which will also increase awareness of your name and writing style (another marketing bonus). Here are just a few of the many magazines accepting short stories: