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Monday, August 8, 2016

Traditional Publishing: Short Stories and Poetry




This week is my last installment in my publishing post series, and this one is about the small stuff. Here is how to publish short forms of creative writing.

Short Stories


1. Write the story.

A short story is a narrative under 7,500 words. Keep in mind that short stories that are on the shorter end tend to have a greater chance of being printed, if you are seeking physical publication. This is because it's less costly for the magazine. If you are only getting published online, word count probably doesn't matter as much. If your short story is accepted into a printed anthology, word count will depend on the anthology. Whatever the case, make sure your story is short enough to stay interesting, but long enough to cover the important parts. Sometimes I see unpublished short stories that are too short--the story isn't properly developed or fleshed out. Other times they are too drawn out, the author including too much information. When writing short the powers of implying and subtext are your friends. But this post isn't about how to write a great story. It's about how to get one published.

2. Edit and Revise it

Edit and revise like you would any length of story. Get feedback from other writers and readers.

3. Decide where to send it.

When it comes to publishing short stories traditionally, you have a couple of options, you can send it to what's called a literary magazine or journal or to an editor for an anthology, which is like a book of short stories, usually with a particular theme. A literary magazine gets published periodically--once a year or once a quarter, for example--and they usually publish a specific number of short stories in each issue. They may also publish other things: poetry, reviews, criticisms, artwork. From my (limited) experience, stories for anthologies are usually solicited, but you could search online to see if any take unsolicited material.

Most universities have a literary journal put out by the English students. The quality of that journal depends on the university, but bigger does not necessarily equate to better. You might want to check out a local university to see if they have one, or do some searches online.

Of course, there are plenty of other literary journals too, with a whole range of quality. Some may take amateur writing others only publish professional level writing. Unless the literary journal is one of the big ones, popular, and only publishing professional level stories, don't expect to get paid. The majority of journals have to use their funds (which may be small already) to publish their next issue and simply can't afford to pay writers. Usually, though, they will "pay" by giving the writer a free copy of the issue they were published in. 

Some journals, even popular journals, only publish online to cut costs.

While you can use google to find literary journals to submit to, you might want to get a subscription to Duotrope.com, which is like search engine for writing markets.

Some journals have specific story requirements, or only take specific genres, lengths, or types. Some publish under a particular theme and want stories that adhere to that. So do some research to find on that fits your story. There is no point to sending a horror story to a journal that only published steampunk.




4. Write Your Cover Letter (if requested)

Some publications do not want a cover letter. They just want to read the story. Others ask for one, so do your research. A cover letter is different than a query letter (what you use to send out novels), and a lot less scary. It's shorter, simpler, and sometimes a bit boring, but you still need to learn the art of writing a good, professional one. You can learn how to write them here.

5. Submit.

Follow the guidelines to submit your story. Some will take electronic submissions, some will take print submissions. Whatever you do, make sure to not do anything that seems unprofessional, like throwing glitter into the envelop or putting a picture in the body of the email.

6. Wait to hear back. 

You'll either be accepted or rejected. If rejected, you can try somewhere else or consider taking another editing pass on the story. If you get accepted, yay! The editors may work with you to get the story ready. They may need your bio or any other information.

7. Celebrate when the publication is release. Awesome! You're published!


Poetry


1. Write a few poems

Usually when it comes to submitting poetry, you submit 3-5 poems to your ideal publications. So it's best to have several poems at the ready. A plus to this is that if an editor likes your style, but not the first poem he reads in the submission, then he has at least two other options to consider. In short, you're more likely to have one poem picked up simply because you are sending five. Side note, it's generally easier to get poems published than a short story. Again, the poems or much shorter, and therefore less work and take less space.

2. Edit and Revise. Pretty much self-explanatory. You'll probably want to get feedback from someone who writes contemporary poetry or at least reads some.

3. Decide where to send it. This is pretty much the same process as outlined in the short story section above. You'll mainly be looking at literary magazines and journals. Of course, there are different levels of quality and prestige, and maybe even themes, like I mentioned above. You can use Google and Duotrope.com to find publications. You probably won't get paid for your submission.

4. Write Your Cover Letter (if requested) Again, similar to what I said earlier.

5. Submit.

Follow the guidelines to submit your story. Some will take electronic submissions, some will take print submissions. Whatever you do, make sure to not do anything that seems unprofessional, like throwing glitter into the envelop or putting a picture in the body of the email.

6. Wait to hear back. You'll either be accepted or rejected. If rejected, you can try somewhere else or consider taking another editing pass on your poetry. If you get accepted, yay!

7. Celebrate when the publication is release. Awesome! You're published!



1 comment:

  1. This is helpful. It gives a general overview of publishing ones short story. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete

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