Quick Petition for Advice

Posted by on Sep 9, 2008 in Writing | 8 comments

Sometimes I receive writing questions that I feel unqualified to answer. In this case, the question comes from a high-school buddy. He wants to know if I have suggestions for getting short stories published.

A basic question, isn’t it? But I don’t have a great answer!

The truth is, I don’t write many short stories so I haven’t plummed the depths of the literary-journal world. There are tons of them out there, I know that much, but how to get their names? Is there a central clearing house on the Net or elsewhere that lists literary journals?

So, short-story writers out there: How do you go about researching literary journals and their submission criteria? Do you send out multiple submissions? Any other tips?

WW, if you’re reading this: I do know that to begin with, I’d check out the 100 Best Short Story, Pushcart Prize and other annual short story anthologies — they’ll list the journals that originally published the stories. I’d also check out various writing magazines for listings. (I’d also read the short stories in those anthologies.)

8 Comments

  1. Go to Duotrope and look up journals (http://www.duotrope.com/).

    Also, go to the library or bookstore and look through journals to see the kinds of things they publish… check out a journal’s website to see if they have sample stories before sending. Always read and adhere to their guidelines.

    And I would always send out multiple / simultaneous submissions, always.

    The best advice I can give for getting a short story published? Make sure you have a KILLER first page — first paragraph even. You want to hook that slush reader right away. And of course, keep trying, keep sending, until something sticks.

  2. What Nova says. She’s exactly right.

    Use duotrope: I love duotrope. It’s a great way to track your submissions, a great way to find out what’s out there.

    Never submit without checking out the journal and its website. It’s disrespectful.

    Make your story perfect — proofread it carefully.

    Wait several weeks to send it out after you think it’s perfect. You’ll see something you missed.

    Submit to a lot of places at once. If your story is taken, make sure you let every other journal know immediately.

    Subscribe to journals. They support what you do, you should support them right back.

    And good luck to your friend.

  3. nova and bloglily, I knew I could count on you for advice! Thanks!

  4. I’ve been reading your blog and really enjoying it. I thought I would chime in on this topic. Here in the U.S., Poets and Writers magazine is probably the best source of listings for literary magazines and contests. They also include submission guidelines and articles about the correct ways to submit. I hope that helps some.

  5. Welcome, Chad! And thanks! I shall check out your blog!

  6. Almost every college has a literary magazine that accepts short story submissions.

    Also you could check out what sort of writing organizations are in your area. I got a couple of things published this year that I found out about on the mailing list of my local writing organization.

  7. Hi lactating, nice to hear from you again. Thanks for the great advice!

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