Submitting Words for Publication

Recently I decided to pull together a bunch of short stories I’ve written over the last year and organize them into an anthology. Then I thought I’d use the project as a means to dip a toe in the self-publishing pond.

You know what they say about the road to hell being paved with good intentions.

To begin with I’d allowed my files to get into a messy fix. Once the stockyard got tidied up, I got sidetracked submitting things to various magazines and publishing outlets. My attention span is now that of a six-week old puppy. I’m sure there’s an appropriate video clip on YouTube.

The upside to this expeditional foray is chucking stuff right and left without worrying too much about the results. It’s not like I’m expecting to get representation, or sell a novel, or make a buck. I’m just throwing bits of work out for input…and getting some interesting results. A couple of yeas, a few nays, and even some friendly feedback from editors for why a piece didn’t work for them. That’s helpful, especially if the input might improve the work rather than distill the content down for an individual taste.

One bit of reaction suggested a piece was nicely dark. I snickered. I didn’t think that work was dark at all. Tastes differ, boy howdy.

The biggest surprises have been the rejections claiming my writing is too literary. What? I don’t even know what that means. Too many big words? Too many frilly descriptions? Most of the time I’m the one on the receiving end of the pointy genre finger. Go figure.

If you haven’t jumped into the submission swamp, here are a few links to get you started. There are lots of others. I like these:

Duotrope is great for checking a wide range of markets. I don’t use their tracking feature but I’ve heard people find it useful. There are multiple ways to search markets, so if you only want to isolate paying markets v. freebies, literary v. genre, or print v. digital, you can. Nifty, eh?

Poets & Writers offers a selection of opportunities that vary widely in accessibility, but this is true of most of the writing-oriented publications like Writer Magazine and Writer’s Digest. I’m sure there are more – share your best in the comments so we all know.

Numerous flash fiction markets exist online (google flash fiction submissions). Some places pay nothing but they will thank you profusely for submitting good work. Others like Every Day Fiction offer token compensation so you know you’re loved and appreciated. A rare few pay enough for you and a friend to enjoy a juicy lunch, like Flash Fiction Online. You’ll relish every last bite.

What sort of writing mess have you made for yourself? Is your wordnest a jumbled vortex of drafts in various states of finishedness? Perhaps you have a favored submission destination you’d like to share? C’mon, if we can’t root for each other, nobody else is going to!

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  1. #1 by Angela Wallace on May 7, 2012 - 8:48 am

    Haha. I haven’t submitted anything in a while. I used the big hulking Writer’s Market book, but finally recycled them as the information most certainly no longer applies. And I mostly did free entry contests for my shorts.

    I totally get the “road is paved with good intentions.” Sometimes self-publishing feels like a mess, lol.

    • #2 by Leslie on May 7, 2012 - 7:04 pm

      I still have a Writer’s Market lurking on the shelf. I haven’t cracked it open in quite a while because the information is notoriously outdated as soon as it hits shelves, but still has some good content. Plus it has satisfying heft! I hadn’t submitted anything in a while either and I sorta forgot how much fun it is to send stuff out just to see what happens. Publishing is a tough business no matter which route you take, and it’s hard work too. If nothing else these bursts of energy help me get better organized. 😉

  2. #3 by Herbert Grosshans on May 7, 2012 - 2:33 pm

    Try my e-publisher Melange Books, LLC. Visit my blog to find their address or google them. The owner is a good person and tries to help budding writers. If you want to get published e-publishing is the way to go. Forget about agents. They won’t look at you unless you’re already a big name published author.

    • #4 by Leslie on May 7, 2012 - 7:05 pm

      Thanks Herbert. I never pass up potential good information and agree that e-publishing offers a lot of opportunity. Thanks for visiting.

  3. #5 by Traci Kenworth on May 8, 2012 - 3:55 am

    I don’t seem to have much luck with short stories. Not that I’ve hit the novel grid yet, but I’ve come close(r) that way.

    • #6 by Leslie on May 8, 2012 - 9:39 am

      I must’ve gone about things backward because I started with novels and now am trying to learn brevity. For me, editing and structuring a shorter work is really good practice to develop harder editing skills. My first drafts are messy things!

  4. #7 by Lisa Cresswell on July 10, 2013 - 7:29 am

    Too literary?? Pfft! Neanderthals! What a rediculous comment. I’d ignore that one for sure. 🙂 I’ve self published a couple things. I don’t think it’s the kiss of death agents make it out to be. I think perhaps it’s very threatening to some agents because they’re cut out of the whole deal. I do think an agent can be helpful if one is shooting for the Big Six/Five, but you don’t need a giant publisher to be published. Good luck with your short stories!

    • #8 by Lesann Berry on July 11, 2013 - 9:17 am

      Hi Lisa! Yep, the “too literary” comment threw me too. I think the publishing market is a very exciting place these days because there are more ways than ever to get our work into the hands of other people. Agents must be struggling to figure out how to navigate new choppy waters. So far my short stories have been more successful than I imagined – and self-publishing is fun! Thanks for weighing in on this very weird process…

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