Getting your story out there

Okay readers, I have reached one goal I set for myself. I have just submitted a story for the first time since 6/10/2005. I went back and read that story I submitted so long ago, and I could not help but cringe. It was terrible. This most recent attempt is much better by far, but we’ll have to wait and see what happens.

file000949873302

“Gooooaaaaaalllllll!!!!”

This brings me to the topic. Where to submit?

If you are an experienced author, this is probably not as much of a challenge for you, but as this blog is dedicated to the new writers out there, I wanted to go through the process I underwent to make my decision.

Keep in mind, this is primarily related to the short story market.

There are a couple of things you need to be able to do in order to submit your story.

1. Know what specific genre your story is. Not a generalization. Be specific. If you are unsure, don’t submit until you are.

2. Research which markets will accept this genre of writing.

3. Understand and follow all guidelines given by the market.

Essentially, you need to do your homework. If you can’t identify what genre story you have, then you may not even understand what your story is about. You also may need to be able to condense your story down to a single line. Why? Some markets will ask for a cover letter. This is your opportunity to give a BRIEF synopsis of your story, approximately how many words your story is, and a brief bio if requested.

Because we are dealing with short stories, keep the information brief.

Now, as for number two, this requires the most leg work for the author. There are many ways of finding suitable markets for your fiction. You can do a quick internet search to identify markets. The benefit here is that you will typically get a good list of online publications, but not many that have an actual printed market. You can also pick up a copy of the Writer’s Market. I personally just purchased the Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market, as I am focusing on short stories. When you purchase a copy, you also get access to the online database. I did pay an additional $9.99 to open the deluxe options for the site. This gives you a year of full access. (This also gives me impetus to continue writing and submitting to take full advantage of my purchase)

When it comes to guidelines, be exact. If they say they accept stories up to 5000 words, do not send a story that is 5005 words. It is a limit, not a recommendation, and often they have this requirement because of the limited amount of space they have in which to print your story. Follow them to the letter! To do otherwise is to disrespect your target market.

Some additional points. This is a business. Make sure your work is impeccable. Edit until your eyes bleed, because you can never proofread enough. Have someone else look at it before you submit. I went over my MS at least fifty times, and as sure as I’m writing this, I discovered a typo immediately after submitting to my second market. And they will notice. DISASTER…

newspaper

“Ooooh, no he di’nt!”

I chose to submit to non-paying markets. Why? A couple of reasons. First, I chose markets that accept electronic submissions, simultaneous submissions, and have quick turnaround times. Why? Well, mostly because I’m impatient, to save the cost of mailing the same manuscript to multiple markets, and to hopefully get it published quickly to boost my morale.

So, if you have a story that is finished and ready to go, get out there and start researching. Get your work out there and start on the next project. Always be working.

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