You’ve started to get serious about your writing. You’ve tooled at writing your first novel or have already completed one. You’ve been writing short stories, some as short as 500 words and some nearing 10,000 words. While you’re still learning and still honing your craft, you want to start sending your short fiction out into the world. What’s the best way to get your short story into the hands of a magazine publishers? Read on…
Use Duotrope to Find the Right Magazines
So you’ve written a 4,000-word short horror story that has scared the wits out of your girlfriend, grandma, and local councilman, and you’re ready to see if you can get it published. What magazines should you submit it to? You’re probably going to have the most luck by submitting the story to horror magazines, not the top-paying literary magazines in the world.
The best web site to search for magazines that might be right for you? Duotrope.com, which offers an awesome search engine that sorts through thousands of magazines to find what best will suit your work. Do you want to get paid? What length is your story? These questions and more must be answered while putting your perfect search together. I’ve been using it since 2014, and I love it. It costs $50 per year.
Research, Research, Research.
After that, whether two or two hundred choices appear before you, it’s time to start researching. Don’t just blindly submit your story to any magazine with a ghoulish title. Go to the web site, read about the editors, try to read some samples of their work to see if what you’ve written might be something they’re interested in.
Next, pick your five to ten favorites. Once you’ve decided on the magazine publishers you want to submit your story to, you’re going to have to read thoroughly about what the submission process entails. Most magazines in 2018 will accept your submission by e-mail or through an online submission manager. This is the easiest, obviously, as all you need to do is attach your story in the specific format and shoot it off to the editor with a brief cover letter.
No Query Letter Needed
Very important — you don’t need to query a magazine publisher unless you have an extremely long story that goes beyond the word count they specify. Your cover letter should be extremely brief. Address the letter to the specific editor if possible (Editor will do if a name can’t be found), and introduce your story in one sentence that includes the title, word count, and whether or not it’s been previously published.
Next, you’ll need to either attach or paste the letter in the e-mail. Some magazines want your story attached in Word Doc or RTF formats, or pasted into the e-mail below your cover letter. Say in the cover letter what method of formatting you’ve done, and close the letter out with a brief thank you, your name, and your contact info, including your address, phone number, and e-mail. Some editors want a brief bio included in the cover letter — include that too, if requested. And if you’re submitting through an online submission manager, make sure to follow all the directions, including the desired formatting choice for your submission.
Last Step — Wait
So you’ve sent your story out to a handful of magazines. Now you wait! Sometimes you’ll wait for five minutes; in other cases, it might be six months or longer (I once received an acceptance more than a year after I’d submitted). But if odds are in your favor, your masterful piece of prose will find a home, and you will be able to call yourself a published author!