As I mentioned yesterday, writing short stories is a great way to earn a little cash and add some publishing credits to your name. Not every market pays, but if you’re like me and you have a store of shorts, sometimes you just want to find them a good home where they’ll be appreciated.
Compensation for short stories are categorized in the following way:
- Non-paying: Here you’re getting published for the love of publishing you’re work and nothing more. Still, it’s a great way to add credits to your name and to seed the internet with your presence.
- Token: Here you’re getting paid a flat fee or “token” for your piece. This is typically anywhere from $1-$25.
- Semi-pro: Placement in a market at this rate means you’re moving up in the ranks. Semi-professional payments usually run 1-4 cents a word.
- Professional payment: Professional payments are anything above 5 cents a word. Most professional writer’s organizations require at least one work published for a professional payment to be eligible for membership.
Short stories also vary in length:
- Flash: Anything less than 1,000 words is qualified as flash. Some magazines publish stories as short as 6 word, 140 characters, or 6 sentences.
- Short Short: No, I didn’t stutter. What is classified as a short short can vary between outlets but it’s usually anything less than 1,500 words (some say 2,500). Writer’s Digest has a short short and a short story contest every year.
- Short: The more typically variety, shorts are anything from 1,000-7,000 words, though most fall between 2,000-5,000.
- Novellette: These are anything from 7,000-20,000 words. Most outlets won’t publish a novellete in a magazine, though some will serialize it. Check the magazines guidelines to be sure.
So how do you find places to sell your stories? You can approach this a number of ways:
- Go to your local bookstore and see which fiction magazines are featured.
- Ask other writers for referrals or look at your favorite authors’ publishing credits.
- Look in the markets section of writer’s magazines such as Writer’s Digest, The Writer, Writer’s Journal, and Poets and Writers.
- One of my favorites is Duotrope.com, an online database of magazines. You can search by genre, length, payment, and other criteria.
Shorts tories are a great way for you to hone your writing practice and to exercise your creative muscles. Just be sure to:
- Edit throughly before you send it off. Don’t rush to submit.
- Follow the magazine’s guidelines to the letter. You don’t want to get rejected before they even read the story.
- Read the magazine before you submit to make sure your story is actually a good fit.
- Keep track of where you submit using Query Tracker, Outlook, or a spreadsheet. It can take some outlets as much as 6 months to respond. You don’t want to end up in a situation where you submitted simultaneously to outlets that don’t allow simultaneous submissions or submitted the same story twice before they’ve had a chance to respond.
- Start with outlets that want first print or exclusive rights first. Once they’ve published or rejected your piece you can then send it to another that either allows simultaneous prints or that takes reprints. This way you can publish (and get paid for a work) more than once.
- Submit on a regular basis. You’ll never build up your career if you’re not out there submitting over and over agin. You will be rejected and it will take time, but it’s worth it if you stick to it.
Hopefully this helps you get your bearings so you can start diving into the world of publishing short stories. They’ve been a great way for me to keep the creative fires burning as I trudge through the much more arduous task of writing and editing a novel. Plus, it helps you say “I’m published” much faster than it does to publish a novel.
Happy writing and best of luck to you!