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  • Stella B James

Where to Submit Your Short Stories

When I started out writing short stories, I thought the only place to submit them was through writing contests. I had no idea the amount of magazines, print and online, that were accepting short story submissions. And even better, most of them were free!

A lot of people ask me where I submit, and that’s a hard question simply for that the fact that I don’t stick to one genre. I love to write stories of all genres, though my passion is mainly romance. I submit all over: to literary magazines, speculative magazines, podcasts, and anthologies. I know that in this society, it’s important to “brand” ourselves. I will say that through this experience, I’ve learned where my strong suits lay.

I appreciate literary fiction, and I wish I could master writing in that genre, but it’s still a work in progress. Speculative fiction and romance are my specialties, especially when combined. This is also probably due to the fact that those are the novels I’ve always read within a day, unable to put them down for even a moment.

Why am I sharing all this instead of getting right down to it? Simply to ask you to be honest with yourself in where your writing strengths lie. Rejections are real and plenty in the writing world. If you are writing in a genre that you are not passionate about, you will probably face more rejections than if you are writing stories that you care about. Literary markets can be very subjective; they will tell you this in their guidelines upfront. So please, know what kind of market you want to submit to before just submitting anywhere.

There are a TON of places to submit short stories to. I have a four notebook system that helps me keep track of those magazines and my submissions. There will be a post on my process because it is something I’ve briefly shared on social media, and I got a lot of feedback from it wanting to see exactly what I do. I cannot stress enough how important it is to keep up with your submissions, but that will be detailed in the next post.

It is almost impossible for me to list everywhere to submit to, simply because I don’t know them all (I am forever discovering new places), and I do not want to leave anyone out. However, I can tell you HOW to find the places to submit to. And this is basically how I learned as well.

First things first, get yourself on a mailing list that supports writers. Get on several. I HIGHLY recommend the following:

Freedom with Writing, Authors Publish Magazine, and Publishing and Other Forms of Insanity.

The emails that I receive from these three have been the most helpful to me! They let you know about all kinds of markets and genres looking for submissions. That’s right, publishing opportunities sitting right in your inbox! Unfortunately, if you are a romance writer, there is very little opportunity for short romantic stories (some magazines will even state that they do not want romance). Surprising, really, since romance is one of the top selling genres. If you are a romance writer, do not fret, I do have a solution for you, but we will get to that later.

If you do not want to get on a mailing list, then you can turn to your good friend the internet. Whatever your preferred search engine, you simply type in “literary magazines accepting submissions” (or put your preferred genre in the place of literary). You will find a plethora of information. I suggest you keep a special notebook to jot down the names of the magazines that intrigue you the most. Trust me on this.

Another great way to discover magazines that may not have made someone’s “top ten” list is to read the bios at the end of short stories. Many writers will list where they have been previously published in their bio, and it is the perfect way to discover new places. A couple of the magazines that have published my writing were discovered through reading other writers’ bios.

Okay, back to my romance writers. While there may not be many magazines accepting romance short stories, there are anthologies wanting that exact thing. Unfortunately, this will take a bit of searching on your part. I would also suggest getting on some romance publishers’ mailing lists in case they ever make an anthology call, but make sure they’ve published anthologies in the past. For example: Literary Crush published their last anthology at the end of 2019, so I am on their mailing list in case they ever make a submission call for another one.

While these posts are more geared towards short story writers, there is a place for poets as well. In fact, many literary magazines look for poetry! For short story writers and poets alike, please make sure you read some of the work the magazine publishes, especially the more recent stuff, before submitting your work. You want to make sure that yor style of writing meshes well with their vibe. And more importantly, you want to make sure the magazine is one that you would want to become a part of. On the other hand, some magazines encourage writers to try them out anyway, because maybe you’ll be the one to surprise them into liking something different. You never know.

I hope that this has helped somewhat in how to find places to submit your writing, whether it be stories, essays, or poetry. The most important thing is to stop fearing the worst and go for it. Literally, the worst thing that will happen will be that they say no. As a writer, you will hear no a lot. And that’s okay. You just try again, either by submitting a different story to that magazine or submitting the same story to a different magazine. But please do not hold yourself back out of fear. Yes, sharing your work can be frightening, but it will also be one of the bravest things you ever do. If it doesn’t work out, then it doesn’t work out.

But I ask you, what, oh what, if it does?

Happy writing, my friends. Next post will break down the submission process once you’ve picked the magazines you want to submit to. Stay tuned and feel free to ask questions!

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