I’ve written a short story, now what?
You’re understandably proud of yourself. After years of dreaming, you’ve finally put that story down in writing, editing it, and even showed it to a few friends and family members. Now it’s time to see if you can get it published. Getting published is really what sets the dreamers apart from the doers. Dreamers aren’t necessarily less skilled at writing; they just lack the gumption and fearlessness to submit their stories to magazines for publication.
If you’re ready to take that step, we’ll outline the steps that will take you from having a story for your family and friends to being a published short story author.
How to get your short story published
1. Get a literary agent (optional).
A literary agent can make things easier for you to get published. Essentially, an agent will tout your story to publications in exchange for a percentage of your earnings from the story. However, you must convince an agent that you’re worth his or her effort. Usually, that means already being published, being well-known for your writing, or having a collection of stories (not just a single tale).
2. Submit your story to magazines and literary journals.
Several types of publications accept short stories. These include anthologies, mainstream (general interest) magazines, trade magazines, and literary magazines. A good place to find publications that match your story is in the current edition of “Writers Handbook”, available in digital or softcover format. This useful publication lists hundreds of outlets for your writing with the guidelines, and editors’ names, and contact information.
Keep in mind that many print publications work on a 12-month calendar, meaning that they decide at the end of the year what they will be publishing for the entire following year. If you submit a story to such a publication in February, you’ll have to wait until the end of the year to get your answer.
3. Wait patiently and work on your next story.
The most trying thing about getting published is waiting for a response. It’s not unusual to wait months for an answer. Obviously, you don’t want to put your writing career on hold while you wait to hear about getting published. Instead, use this time to work on your next writing project. Next time, instead of writing an entire story, suggest a story idea and write the first chapter. Not only do editors appreciate having less to read when they are making their decision, but you’ll be able to pivot more easily if the editor offers his or her input. In addition, by targeting a specific publication, you can familiarize yourself with the types of stories they publish and read their submission guidelines before you get started.
4. Skip all of that and self-publish your story.
An alternative to submitting and waiting and waiting some more is to publish your story using one of the several self-publishing platforms, such as Amazon and Draft2Digital. One of the biggest advantages of self-publishing is that you’ll earn money for every story you sell, and you won’t have to wait months to collect. There are downsides to self-publishing. Self-publishing has none of the stigma attached to it that it once did. However, you’ll have to do all your own promoting, or you won’t sell more than a few copies to your friends and family. This means being active on social media, creating a website, and interacting with readers and prospective readers.
Getting your first short story published is an exciting time. Make the most of it by carefully selecting publications that match your story’s theme, considering self-publishing, and making sure to be patient and positive.
For more information on lots of literary topics, visit Full Cycle Publications at the website.