Dear Miss Snark,
So what about short stories when you’re not already Alice Munro? Agents won'’t take them and big houses won’t look at manuscripts without agents. I'’ve been shopping a collection of them (several have been published in literary journals and anthologies). I tried a small press and had my best rejection letter ever, in which the editor said how much she liked them (and seemed to actually have read them) but said she'’s not publishing short stories any more because she can'’t sell them. Try a bigger house, she said. The editor of an anthology I contributed to told me that writing a novel and signing a two-book deal is the only way. But what if I don'’t have a novel in me? What if I'’m just a short story writer? Is there any hope?
Get published in the New Yorker; you'll have agents breathing down your neck with offers of kidneys, gin, contracts and the occasional poodle.
You need to focus on getting the stories published. From that will come a collection.
You're going to be in this for love not money for a long time.