Last year, I wanted to get four pieces of writing published. I only managed three. When I analysed possible reasons, the most obvious one was this: I didn’t send anything out for six months.

Not everything you send is accepted, far from it, but if you don’t send stuff, it can’t be accepted. I wish there were pixies that flitted about looking in drawers and scanning hard drives to find pieces whose authors were too shy to submit and moved them from obscurity into the sunny gaze of  a willing publisher. But it doesn’t work like that. You have to be your own pixie.

Finding markets is time-consuming but there are tools that help:

  • Duotrope is a subscription service (as of January this year. Last year it was free.) that lists and interviews markets and gives you a way of tracking submissions and pieces. I like it. I haven’t yet made money from a market I found through Duotrope, but I found Flashes in the Dark, who gave me my first publishing credit, through Duotrope. I subscribe to Duotrope’s weekly newsletter which contains lists of new and closed markets as well as a very useful list of upcoming deadlines.
  • Booktrust list of short-story prizes.
  • Ralan. A free website that lists markets. It isn’t as easy on the eyes as Duotrope and doesn’t have any of the extended features (submission tracking, advanced searches) but it is surprisingly comprehensive.
  • Google. (Or the search engine of your choice.)

Friends and networks are useful too: I heard about the Hansel and Gretel competition from a writer friend, for example.

There are thousands of markets out there. Finding one that’s just right for your story takes time, but if you want to be read, it’s time well spent.