Thursday, July 13, 2017

Tips for Finding Short Story Markets

- a post by Jeanna Mason Stay



A couple weeks ago I attended Balticon, a sci fi and fantasy convention in Baltimore. It was interesting and fun, with some useful tips for some work I’m doing and also some great accessories (like these horns!). But the part I want to talk about here is the short story resources that I learned about.

Up to now, I have mostly just been randomly coming across places to submit short stories, kind of hit and miss and pretty scarce. But since I’m working on short fiction more these days, I was excited to learn about these resources, listed below. These are all about finding markets for your stories, and believe me—if you are interested in writing short fiction, there are lots of markets.

Facebook open call groups. Search on Facebook for groups called “open call” and then the genre that you write. For example, I have joined an open call group for sci fi and fantasy. When people hear about anthologies or other markets that are seeking stories in the genre, they post. This has been AMAZING for generating huge lists of places I could submit stories to. Now I just have to write them! :)

Ralan.com. This site is for mostly speculative fiction, and it is vast. Does the market exist? It’s probably listed. 

Duotrope.com. This one is a paid service. It was recommended, but honestly, since looking at the other options and how much content they have, I won’t be doing this. 

Submission Grinder. Searchable info on markets, including statistics on rejections and acceptances and other exciting stuff. Data! We loves it, my precious! (I’m married to a data scientist type, so we really really like numbers and graphs and spreadsheets.)

Short fiction is obviously a different world from novels, but it is an interesting and exciting one too, and these resources can help you find markets for your short pieces, including even flash fiction (who knew that some people pay for flash?).

Now for a couple more pieces of advice: 

1. Keep your stories off the web. I have made a rookie mistake a number of times and am paying for it now. Don’t publish your short fiction on your blog just for fun. This pretty much rules it out for a lot of markets who will then consider your story a reprint—which many markets don’t want. Sure, it’s fun to share your work, but make sure you’re never going to want to try to sell it. 

2. Dream big. There are different payment brackets for short fiction—pro (generally $0.06/word), semipro (around $0.03/word), token (less; sometimes a flat rate), nonpaying, etc. And there are markets that may excite you personally more than others (there are a couple of fairy tale magazines that I dream of being published in because that’s my cup of tea). Why not start with your dream markets? The worst that will happen is that they say no and you move on down the line to the next market you’re interested in. But what if they say yes instead? 

3. Try something different, something you’re not good enough to write yet. I’d love to say more about this in the future, but for now let me just start with this—short fiction is an awesome place to try out something you don’t know how to write. I’ve never written science fiction, always thought it was kind of out of my depth, but I’ve recently found a market for middle grade sci fi that I’m kind of dying to write a piece for. It may be awful, it may be great—who knows? But it’s worth trying something new, and no matter how awful or great it is, I took the chance to stretch and grow. Which means it’s awesome no matter what.

Now go write some short fiction!

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