Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Your Short Fiction: Finding a Market

So now you have an edited, polished story you're ready to send out into the world.

Don't be freaked out. Remember, this is what you signed on for. You're a writer, remember? The hard part's over - the story's already written. Now you just need to find someone as enthusiastic about your fiction as you are.

One of the most user-friendly and useful tools I've found on the internet for finding fiction markets is Duotrope's Digest. Duotrope is free, and it offers an online organization tool for tracking your submissions. All you need to do is plug in what you want in their nifty search form, and you have literally dozens, if not hundreds, of markets to choose from for your short fiction.

So here's the question: how do you choose?

Take a look at the acceptance ratings, first. This can be found on the market's listing page on Duotrope. The lower the acceptance rating, the less likely your piece is to get placed. If you've never published anything before, try something with a high approval rating. Big markets like Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction or Weird Tales probably aren't going to publish a first-time writer. Be realistic in your goals; remember you have to get your chops before you can move up the ladder.

Narrow it down to a few markets. Now, visit their websites. Take a look at whether or not they accept simultaneous submissions - that's the practice of submitting your story to more than one market at a time. Many markets are okay with simsubs, but some aren't. Make sure your formatting matches what they require in their submissions guidelines. Also keep in mind how the market accepts submissions - not everyone accepts emailed stories. If you're not willing to shell out the postage, toner and paper, make sure to only research markets who accept electronic submissions.

Most importantly, take the time to get familiar with the type of material offered by the market you're researching. If they have PDF issues or excerpts available on their website, read them. Look on the shelves of your local bookstore for those small markets, if you can find them. Try to gauge if your work will be a good fit for the market, and if your fiction fits with the kind of publications this market is known for. Before you know it, you'll find a market to fit your work.

Now that you've selected a market to submit to, you're almost ready to send it out! Tomorrow we'll cover the short fiction query letter, plus keeping up with your submissions in the field. If you've got any questions or comments about finding a market for your work, feel free to comment!


Anne Gallagher said...

Wow this series has been great so far. Thanks so much for putting it together.

Hart Johnson said...

Polish it? I have to polish it?! Man, oh man, am I sure I don't have the chops for short stories. Still, I keep thinking I WANT to give it a try, so this is some great stuff! It's very similar to the process for scientific stuff, actually. (and that's painful, too, but sometimes it WORKS)

Anne R. Allen said...

Great info. Thanks for this!