Friday, August 10, 2012

How to Find Short Story Markets

by Jill Williamson

Thinking about writing a short story? Wonder where you can get it published?

I've only published about five or six short fiction stories, so I'm no expert. Many people write a short story, then go looking for someplace to sell it. But that's not the best way. You can try it. But you'll likely end up with a whole lot of rejections.

Every magazine is different. They publish different types of stories in different lengths that target different types of readers. So where one magazine will publish fantasy stories at 2000 words long that have to be medieval, another magazine might publish all genres of speculative fiction but want stories that are 1000 words in length. So the same story usually can't fit multiple publications. At least not "as is."

I recommend doing some research and finding a handful of magazines that you'd like to try writing for. Then submit again and again until you get in. You can find magazines in various places.

-Go to your local bookstore or grocery store and peruse the magazine shelves for magazines you'd like to write for. Buy a copy or two of each magazine.

-Go to your library and see what magazines they have on the shelf. Check out at least two issues of the ones you're interested in.

-You can also find sample copies of magazines on the freebie tables at writer's conferences. Grab a few.

-You can find magazine markets listed in books like the Writer's Market, Children's Writer's and Illustrators Market, or Sally Stuart's Christian Writer's Market Guide. Once you find entries that look like they'll work for you, look up the magazines' websites and find their writer's guidelines. Request sample copies--purchase if necessary.

-Google "short story markets" and see what you find. There are a lot of online magazines out there right now--many of which pay. Be sure and have an adult look over the site before you submit to make sure the company is legit.

Samples in my magazine drawer
Once you have some sample copies, study them. Keep track of what types of stories each magazine publishes. Then go online and find the writer's guidelines. Some magazines even have lists of themes for the year and specifically look for stories that fit those themes, so if you ask for writer's guidelines, ask about themes, as well.

It's much easier to write for a magazine you've held, read, and studied. You'll know the types of stories the magazine is looking for because you'll have read them. 

Then you need to brainstorm stories for each magazine that will be a good fit. And sometimes you'll know that the story could work for several different magazines with some editing. Then, depending on the writer's guidelines, query about the story you want to write, or write the story and submit it with a cover letter. 

And don't give up! Stephen King was rejected over 100 times before he published his first short story. And it was years after that when he published his first novel. When I started, I decided to expect at least 50 rejections. That way, when my first rejection came, I was excited, thinking, "Only 49 more!" There was no guarantee that I'd be published before 50 rejections, but having that positive attitude helped me look at rejections as one step closer rather than a door slammed in my face.

Anyone ever submit a short story to a magazine? Anyone want to? Any questions?

25 comments:

  1. Nice post, Jill! I think the problem with me is that where I'm from, there's hardly any magazines on writing (on the shelves.) I don't like submitting online. That kind of bugs me because I'd really love to publish my short stories someday (I've written a whole bunch!)
    Anyways, thanks for another great post and that point you made about rejection seems SO daunting - I mean 50 rejections sounds like too much to handle! :)
    Haha. Thanks again!

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    1. That's funny. I remember thinking that 50 seemed like a good safe amount, so I was able to focus on writing and submitting without the hope of getting published. Really I was only psychologically tricking myself. And I did still feel sad over my rejections. But it was helpful to get into the mindset that rejections will come.

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  2. You can also use Duotrope at https://duotrope.com/ to find publications for your short stories. You just adjust the word count, genre, pay, style, etc. to your piece and present publications according to your guidelines.

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  3. Great post! I work for an e-magazine that publishes short stories. We're called Kingdom Pen magazine, and we're actually hosting our own short story contest right now. If anyone is interested, they can check out our website: kingdompen.org

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    1. Even if you don't enter this contest, you should definitely check out the magazine. It's awesome.

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    2. Coolness. Thanks for sharing Reagan and Leah! :-)

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  4. When I was younger, I submitted to a magazine called Stone Soup. (http://www.stonesoup.com/) It has an age limit, but for a young writer this magazine was one of the best things that ever happened to me.

    Thanks for a good post, Jill!

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    1. I've submitted some things to Stone Soup too, and I'm actually waiting to hear back right now about my latest submission. Fingers crossed!

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    2. I've heard of Stone Soup! Thanks for mentioning it, Olivia!

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  5. I want to, but I never have. This post is very cool, and I'm deffinately going to try some things out. I love Susie!!!! :D

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  6. Yes, I've submitted one short story, and it was published in Starsongs Magazine! That was an extreme case of beginners luck. :) Thanks for the post!

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  7. Same as Jessica - uno en Starsongs :)

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  8. I have submitted two stories and received rejections on both of them, but that's okay. I'm with you--rejections get you one step closer to publications.

    Magazine Markets for Children's Writers, published by Writer's Institute Publications is a great resource for finding markets for short stories.

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    1. Great suggestion, Leah. That is a good publication. And congrats on your two rejections. Ha ha. :-P You know what I mean... *grin*

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  9. I was thinking about this exact question recently, because I've written a few short stories that I rather like and was wondering what to do with them. It seems like contests are really the only big place to earn money with short stories.

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    1. Yeah, contests are good, but the odds of winning can be slim, since most times only one person wins, where a magazine continually needs new material.

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  10. What magazine companies have you written for? Just do I know a good place to start.

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    1. Me? I got published in:
      Brio which became Susie magazine (I wrote several articles, quizzes, and such for them.)
      Shine Brightly
      Devo'Zine
      The Christian Communicator (I interviewed Jeff Gerke for the cover!)

      I think that's it.

      There is also Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr. And there is a younger mag by the Shine Brightly people called Sparkle, I think. There is a magazine called Encounter.

      Harder to get into are mags like:
      Highlights
      Spider
      American Girl
      And national teen magazines

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  11. thanks so much for this post! Love it! Can't wait to check all those sites, and some magazines. my mind is already reeling with the possibilities, and story lines.:)

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