To get published you have to commit pieces to publishers. To start with, I want to get a short story published by someone who pays. The money isn’t really important, but the fact that I get paid is. Anthologies and well established magazines rate higher in the publishing stakes than my grandmother’s literary website.
I consider myself a pretty good Googler, but finding places to send submissions to turns out to be rather more complicated than I thought. Good thing that there are tools and websites that makes it easy for you.
Ralan lists a large number of websites and magazines that take submissions. You can filter by genre but you’re left scanning alphabetic lists of potential submissions. Luckily the summaries are comprehensive.
Duotrope is a little more structured than Ralan and offers a fancy interface for searching. Learning what you can search for might take a while – I find either nothing or everything. If you find it useful, consider donating some money too them. It’s a great service and it’s free to use. (I’ve done my bit. And a little more.)
You can use Duotrope to track your submissions and responses. The aggregated response time data provide a guide to other writers.
Learning a new language
There’s a lot of new jargon to learn with submissions. A whole new language to learn. The joy! Luckily, it’s one you learn quickly. Many of the terms are self-explanatory although a re-submission* wasn’t what I thought it was. Until I started looking for places to submit I didn’t even know I wrote speculative fiction. I wasn’t aware of this catch-almost-all super-category that fits both the mild horror and urban fantasy stories I write.
* It means submitting something’s that’s been published somewhere else rather than submitting the same story to the same place more than once. Which would be a crazy thing to do.
My friend Helen Jackson was one of the Story Shop performers this year. Story Shop is a free Book Festival event run by UNESCO City of Literature. It gives local talent an opportunity to read their story to an audience. They also get a day pass to the writer’s retreat, the tent where all the authors hang out. (How cool is that?)
Helen had a great day and a good turn out for the reading of her two-part story Drawing the Line. When I quizzed her about it over coffee she issued me with a challenge:
Next year, you do it.
How could I say no? I needed a definate and ambitious goal.
All you have to do to be eligible to submit a story to Story Shop is get something published. Then you need to write a story that the Story Shop editors want to feature. That’s all. Yeah.
Step the first is to get published. You don’t have to have a book published (phew) but need to have something in a publication where they have selection criteria. An anthology works, as does printed magazines or other sources where they pay for your work. So, over the next few months I’ll be tidying up and submitting short stories. If I don’t get published by the end of May next year, I won’t be eligible to apply for Story Shop. Must meet that goal.
Wish me luck.
Today, I attended a workshop on how to write the perfect submission by Nicola Morgan. She wrote the book on submissions (Write to be Published). To date I haven’t bought the book but there’s still time.
The workshop was a quick summary of the main points that you should keep in mind when submitting a proposal to an agent or a publisher. It was quite inspiring. Yes, there’s an aspect of luck in whether you get pubished or not: you need to have the right book and send it to the right publisher at the right time. Do that, and all is good. Unless, of course, your submission letter is so terrible that no one looks at your excerpt, of course.
I learned a lot today and am write a submissin letter for my NaNoWriMo effort for the practice of it. It might help clarify what I wrote.