Short Story Submissions: 10 Easy Steps to Go From Writing to Published

The article Short Story Submissions: 10 Easy Steps to Go From Writing to Published appeared first on The Write Practice.

How do you submit a short story for publication? It’s a lot to think about and I’ve seen more than one writer throw in the towel and say they’re happy to just be writing. To make it easier, there are ten steps you can take to tackle short story submissions.

It may seem overwhelming, but once you know what you’re doing, getting short stories published isn’t as scary as it seems.

In this article, you’ll learn the ten steps needed to submit a short story for submission and hopefully get it published.

The 10 Steps to Submit Your Short Story for Publication

If you’re looking for a quick guide, here are the ten steps to follow in order to submit your short story for publication. Click each step to jump to more details.

  1. Read the guidelines.
  2. Pay attention to deadlines.
  3. Format your manuscript properly.
  4. Prepare a bio.
  5. Prepare an elevator pitch.
  6. Write a cover letter.
  7. Submit!
  8. Submit again.
  9. Record your submission.
  10. Wait.

Read on for a detailed explanation of how to master each step of the process and get your short story published.

Writing to Getting Published: The Full Journey to Short Story Publication

I focus on fiction in this article, but the vast majority of this information applies to creative nonfiction writers and other nonfiction submissions like critical essays or book reviews. If you already have a story on hand to submit, jump down to learn exactly where and how to get it published.

But if you don’t have a short story ready to publish, or if you want to write a new story specifically for publication, we’ve written a series of articles on how to write your best short story and maximize your chances of getting it published.

Here’s the full process from idea to publication, with links to our articles about each step:

  1. Choose your publication. The best way to publish a short story is by choosing a publication and then writing a story for that publication. Why is this the best way? Because your story will already be tailored for a publication rather than a story that sort of fits. Stories that sort of fit have a lower likelihood of being accepted for publication. For more on how to choose your publication, read our guide to finding the best publications for you.
  2. Plan your story. Once you’ve chosen where you want to submit, it’s time to plan the story. If you’re stumped for writing ideas, check out our 100 Best Short Story Ideas, then read our guide for how to turn your idea into a brilliant short story plan.
  3. Write your first and second drafts. I always recommend writing the first draft of a short story in one sitting. It’ll be more cohesive that way. Be sure to take a break in between drafts so you can edit with fresh eyes! Here’s how to write your story like a pro.
  4. Get feedback and edit your final draft. I can’t stress how important getting feedback is to the writing process. You need to know if your story makes sense or leaves the reader bored. And, trust me, you’ll miss typos. Guaranteed. If you don’t have a writing group to give you feedback, consider checking out The Write Practice Pro. And to help you make the most of your feedback, read our guide to editing your story.
  5. Submit! Read on for where to submit and the step-by-step process of submission.

5 Places to Publish Short Stories

The first step in publishing your short story is deciding where to publish. There are quite a few options to choose from when you’re ready to publish your short story:

1. Anthologies

Anthologies are a collection of short stories by different authors, and most will take an unsolicited submission. (An unsolicited submission means they did not approach you; you are pitching to them.) They’re often themed and either pay per word or a flat token payment. Some pay royalties, but this is rare.

When you publish in an anthology, you sell your publication rights to them for a specified period. (Note: This DOES NOT mean you sell copyright. Copyright is ALWAYS yours from the moment you pen the story. Never sell copyright to anyone.)

What this means is you are not allowed to republish the story anywhere else until the agreed-upon time runs out. Then all rights revert back to you and you may publish the story elsewhere as a reprint.

2. Literary magazines/literary fiction journals/online fiction journals

Literary magazines are publications that focus on creative writing. They aren’t just for literary fiction. There are plenty of genre literary magazines out there!

Lit mags can be printed or exist solely online (e-zines). They’re normally published at least quarterly, but some are only yearly and some are published monthly.

Unfortunately, a lot of literary magazines aren’t able to pay their contributors, or they pay in token payments (a one-time flat-rate, sometimes with additional copies of the magazine), or contributor copies, rather than paying royalties.

As with anthologies, you sell your publication rights to the magazine or online fiction journal for a specified period.

Check out our list of literary magazines to start your lit mag search. I recommend buying an upcoming issue if you can afford it to see exactly what they like and print.

3. Podcasts

Everyone loves a good podcast, and there are plenty out there that buy short stories. These podcasts are pretty cool. They take your story and produce it with sound effects and voice actors. Think old-time radio show.

4. Self-publication

Thanks to the internet, everyone is able to publish their own work. Amazon and Draft2Digital make it fairly easy to self-publish on all online retailers, as well as libraries. You can even make your story available in print through these companies.

The benefit here is you get royalties each time you sell a copy. The downside is you’re less likely to sell a ton of copies.

5. Your website

If you don’t have an author website, you should strongly consider setting one up (here’s how). You can share your releases there, build up an email list, and show up in a Google search. Sites are also a cool way to introduce your work to your readers with free stories.

How do you find places to publish your short story?

You can search for open calls for submissions for podcasts, literary magazines, and anthologies on sites like Duotrope, The Grinder, and Horror Tree. We also keep a list of our favorite literary magazines.

Make sure to follow writing groups on Facebook as well for more chances to submit.

How to Choose Where to Publish Your Short Story

Now that you know your options, how do you choose?

The answer depends on your goals for the story.

Do you want to share it with a select group of people? Are you wanting to build your email list or social following? Go with your website.

If you’re wanting to move toward building a wider readership, you’re going to want to go bigger. You’ll want to look into anthologies, literary magazines, and podcasts. International submissions are great, too, if they’re in the language your story is in.

If money is your main motivator, I’m going to tell you right now you’d better forget about that.

Most short story publications have little to no money to pay contributors. Some offer no monetary payment at all. It’s up to you if you are okay with taking no monetary payment or a token payment.

Again, think of what you’re goal is.

Either way, you’re not going to get rich publishing short stories. Even the publications that pay professional rates only normally pay up to eight cents a word. I’ve never seen more than ten cents a word offered.

And that’s fine! Why?  Because the point of publication is to build readership.

Watch out!

Fortunately, there are many reputable publications out there, but there are also unreputable ones.

Watch out for publications that charge a reading fee or submission fee. This warning doesn’t apply to writing contests, where i

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