by Jocelyn Nash Carlin
Over the past year and a half I’ve been spending more time away from my ongoing novel to try my hand at some short fiction. Short fiction can be a wonderful palate cleanser after months of being bogged down in revisions and editing, and if you are successful in publishing, it can be a great resume builder to add to the bottom of your query letters for your novels. Not to mention that getting your fiction in front of an audience and receiving financial compensation for it (no matter how small) is always a great confidence booster.
But, like many of you, I’ve been faced with the question: Where exactly can I sell my stories?
There are no literary agents as gatekeepers in the short fiction market – you send your work directly to the editors and let them make the buy/reject decisions. Which means you have to know who to send your fiction to.
In my online research I’ve found several helpful websites to get you started in your search for short fiction publication venues.
The first and mostly highly regarded place to find markets for your fiction is Duotrope, a site which not only has the most comprehensive and up-to-date listings for short fiction markets, they also have some submission tracking features and interactivity among members where they can share tips and experiences with different markets. But there is a downside – while Duotrope started out as a free service, after an initial free trial they now operate as a subscription service with a $5 monthly membership fee, or a discount if you join on an annual basis. Given how little short fiction markets pay, you could pay more for Duotrope membership than you earn for your fiction in an entire year. However, they really are the best, so if you have multiple stories ready to submit and you are determined and committed, this site is probably worth your money.
If you write speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, horror and the like), a fantastic free site listing short fiction markets is Ralan.com. This site lists markets according to how much they pay, from professional-rate markets on down to zero-pay markets. It is updated regularly and tries to stay on top of any announcements from markets as to whether or not they are open for submissions.
Another great place to start for speculative fiction short fiction is the list of SFWA qualifying markets. SFWA is the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and they keep a list of markets where you can publish to help you qualify for membership in the organization. These markets are not only the top-paying speculative fiction markets, but will also get your writing the most exposure.
I don’t know as much about literary fiction markets, but I found a great list of short-fiction-market-resources on Absolute Write. This page includes links to many market-lists that should get you a very good start on finding the right places to submit your fiction. This article on Yahoo lists the top-paying/most exposure literary fiction markets. And author Cindi Myers is currently publishing a series of articles on more obscure short fiction markets on her blog. One of these resources will likely point you in the right direction to begin your search for a market.
From my experience so far, you’ll pile up rejections pretty quickly when you dive into the short fiction business, but each rejection I collect reminds me that I am working hard toward my goals. And once I finally get an acceptance, rather than a rejection, you better believe I’ll be back to toot my own horn.