Finding new markets: tools of the trade

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.

Have story, will submit. But where?

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.