How to get a short story published for the first time

By | November 4, 2015
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How to get a short story published for the first time – Top 10 best tips to remember when publishing short fantasy, children’s or fiction story in a magazine in UK, Canada or Australia

List of top 10 best tips on how to get a short story published for the first time

Tip 1:

Do a little research !

A little research will make your efforts to get published – more successful. Start by researching the overall publishing market, finding out which magazines and journals will be open to your work. Once you’ve narrowed the market down, find the submission guidelines for the journals you’ve selected.

If you already know which magazines or journals you’’d like to target, and you are certain they publish short stories of the type you write, find their address and contact them directly for writers’ guidelines.

How to get a short story published for the first time

Tip 2:

Proper formating !

Editors expect to find certain information on each short story that is submitted. For example, they want to know up front if your story is the right length for their journal, so it’s common practice to include the word count at the top of the first page (click cover letter thumbnail at left to enlarge). And you want to make sure that your contact info is on the story, in case your cover letter gets lost. So do yourself and the editor a favor, by following these conventions for short story submissions.

Tip 3:

Proof reading is necessary !

While you may not have control over an editor’s tastes or preferences, you can make sure your work is free of errors in spelling and grammar using a self-editing checklist. You might also workshop your stories in a class or writing group.

Tip 4:

A Cover letter is Important !

Your cover letter doesn’t have to be long; in fact, most editors prefer short ones. However, do include a brief biography, listing any publications.  You might find it easiest to keep the cover letter saved on your computer, adapting the heading and salutation for each journal.

Tip 5 :

Selecting your market !

Faced with all the market choices, narrow your selection to the ten best choices for your work. Which magazines or journals are most likely to publish short stories like yours? Identify the markets in your genre. Do you write literary fiction? If so, look for literary journals. If you write mysteries, search for mystery magazines, etc.

How to get a short story published for the first time

Tip 6:

Check for simultaneous submissions policy !

Each journal or magazine has a policy on simultaneous submissions: whether they prefer an exclusive read or not. If a story that you have simultaneously submitted is accepted somewhere, write to the others to withdraw your submission.

Tip 7:

Follow guidelines !

If your story is 2300 words, do not send it to a market that accepts stories up to 2000 words. You may believe that the extra 300 words won’’t make a difference, but their limit is there for a reason. To ignore it, is to waste time and postage.

Similarly, if the guidelines ask for stories about single life, and you hope to publish short stories about a married couple who are bathing their dog for the first time, you had better find a different market.

Tip 8 :

Explore online markets !

Many legitimate journals now publish exclusively online. For less waiting, and easier access to archives, research online markets, preferably ones that pay, and always where your work is vetted by professional writers. This is important. You can publish without payment, but not without the vetting process if you want your publication credit recognized.

Tip 9 :

No age bar !

Tween and teenage writers keep wondering about age requirements for getting published. You don’t have to be any particular age to write and publish a book or short story.. However, before you decide to jump into the publishing world, consider the following:

  • You get better at writing as you do more of it. Focus on your writing, not so much on publishing.
  • Look for a teacher or mentor who can guide you. Seek out other writers your own age and share work with each other. Start a writing group at your school if there isn’t one.
  • If you’re itching to get your writing out there, and want readers beyond your own circle, consider Wattpad. It’s a friendly community of writers and readers, with many people your own age.

How to get a short story published for the first time

Tip 10 :

Commercial Viability !

You can sell a short story to magazines, both online and offline, and receive a fee in return. Rates go from nothing or a few free copies, right up to pro rates of $0.05 a word or higher. Typically, stories between 2,000 words and 4,000 words are the most marketable, but remember, there’s a market for all lengths.

The main drawback with magazines is that they are often run on a very tight budget (not enough people are reading them), so hearing back on your submission can take anything from a week to a year, but two or three months is standard.

Rates are usually, but not always, less than you get for first rights, but it’s great to get paid again for the same story, when the only work you have to do is to submit it. It’s another publication credit on your CV, and it brings you more readers, which is what this is all about.



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