Not all authors write full-form novels or books. Some love the freedom and flexibility a short story can provide. But for all you short story writers out there, do you know how to publish a short story?
In this article, you will learn:
- The benefits of getting your short story published
- How to submit a short story that's more likely to get accepted
- 6 top places you can apply to get your short story published
- Over 100 extra publications you can get published on!
Table of contents
- The Benefits of Having Your Short Stories Published
- How to Publish a Short Story (Guidelines)
- Top 7 Places to Submit Your Short Story
- 100+ Other Short Story Publishers
- You won't get accepted every time. Learn to take rejection.
- How to Publish a Short Story All Summed Up
And since some of you writers may be on a deadline, let's get to it and not waste anymore time!
The Benefits of Having Your Short Stories Published
Writing a great short story can be just as impressive as creating a full-length book. Let's look at some of the benefits.
It's a great way to gain visibility as an author.
Writing a short story for a reputable publication can do wonders for your author brand. It's a great way to get some exposure in front of new readers and industry professionals. Also, you'll become eligible to receive nominations for various short story awards which can definitely bolster your career.
They're a great way to pad your resume.
If you're in a writing career track, nothing speaks louder than having previously published work. Published short stories can make it easier for you to get a book deal down the road.
They're a chance to try out new character devices and hone your craft.
Think of your short stories as test runs for different character and setting profiles. If there's an idea you're toying with, and you aren't sure whether it's worth a full book or not, try it out in short story form. If you like how it goes, turn it into a book. Ernest Hemingway himself claimed that all of his novels started out as short stories.
They make for great marketing.
One of the most important assets an author can have is a dedicated email list. Short stories can be used as great lead magnets — freebies that incentivize people to join your email list.
How to Publish a Short Story (Guidelines)
When submitting short stories for publication, there are a number of things you need to keep in mind.
Find and pay attention to submission guidelines.
I know this seems like cop-out advice, but this is the absolute number one rule you must follow when submitting your story. It'd be a crying shame if your story was tossed in the can without a second look all because of failing to meet submission requirements. Do a quick Google search and find the guidelines for the specific publication you're pitching to. Follow those to the letter and you'll have already given yourself a leg up on much of the competition.
Mind your cover letter etiquette.
Honestly, the best approach for your cover letter is to keep it short and sweet. And don't forget to add a touch of professional courtesy. Personally address the letter to the editor who will read your submission. If you're unsure, use a greeting such as “Dear Editors of Such and Such publication,” instead of a flat “Dear Editors.” And whatever you do, avoid the dreaded “To Whom this May Concern”. Take the time to do your homework, and you'll have a better chance at success.
Be sure to learn their Multiple/Simultaneous Submission policies.
There are many publications that only allow for exclusivity when it comes to submissions. This means you can't submit your story to anyone else once you've sent it to them — until they've had a chance to review it. This kind of stinks. Sometimes, it takes months for a publication to give you a simple yes or no. And it can be particularly difficult if the answer returns no. So, how do you avoid this? Submit different stories to different publications and rotate that schedule. Or submit to a publication that will allow you to apply at different publications simultaneously.
Keep your formatting options simple.
Stick with something straightforward and easy to read. Your story is responsible for making things interesting — not your fonts, spacing, or decorative headers and footers. A standard .doc or .docx is often accepted by most publications as well.
Remember to edit.
This might be the most overlooked part of learning how to publish a short story. Many times you'll get so caught up in verifying submission guidelines you'll completely miss a full edit. There's only so much a spell checker can do.
If you are going to use software to edit yourself, use a premium platform such as ProWritingAid. ProWritingAid can find 10x as many errors as MS Word! Sloppy work can prevent even a good short story from ever being published.
Top 7 Places to Submit Your Short Story
Now that you know how to publish a short story, you should start looking for the best places to do so. Here's six of our favorite.
No list on short story publications would be complete without The New Yorker. It's the holy grail for short story writers. And while it's next to impossible to get published here, doing so will catapult your writing career into heights once firmly believed unobtainable. Most stories published in The New Yorker are short fiction that run between 600-1000 words. And you can submit an entry at anytime. They haven't specified any sort of real pay rate if you do get published, but come on… Getting published here brings more than enough accolades to make up for that.
This is another very well-respected publication you should strive for as a short story writer. They specifically advise that you review their previously published stories to get an idea of what they're looking for. Like The New Yorker, The Atlantic has an open deadline for unsolicited submissions which means you can submit anytime your story has reached its peak perfection. They do not pay for unsolicited submissions, but the opportunities that come from being published here often make up for it.
If you're looking for another top-notch publication with slightly less competition, The Georgia Review may be just what you need. They also accept a much wider range of genres and styles than the previous two. That said, be prepared to give your best to The Georgia Review. If you're not a subscriber to their publication, they do require a $3 processing fee. They also have specified deadlines, so be sure to look out for those. And unlike the others above, The Georgia Review will pay you $50 per printed page.
This publication claims that it's always on the lookout for beginning writers with the promise of exceptional talent. Essentially, they're the talent scouts of the short story world. They accept both nonfiction and fiction writings within 8000 words. However, they do not accept horror, sci-fi, erotica, westerns, romance, or children's stories. Their deadline ranges between October 1 and May 1. And they pay between $100-300 per piece.
As a sci-fi geek, I have to have this on my list of favorites. This online publication is open year round for aspiring Sci-Fi writers (with the exception of December 24- January 2). And they accept word counts starting at 100 up to 1500. So, these are truly short stories. They do pay on a per word basis at 8 cents, with the possibility of additional pay in reprint anthologies. And it doesn't cost anything to submit. So, if you've got a stellar character-driven Sci-Fi tale, this might be the place for you.
Is your writing a bit wacky? You may think there's no place for you and your stories BUT… there's a home for you a well. It's Drabblecast! Drabblecast is an online publication meant for writers just like you. While they focus mainly on Sci-Fi, Horror, and Fantasy, all genres are accepted here — as long as it's a bit unique. One great thing about Drabblecast is you can actually make some decent money by getting published. For original fiction, they paid 6 cents a word with a cap of $300. However, Drabblecast is very clear when it comes to their submission guidelines. You can have simultaneous submissions, but you cannot have multiple submissions (unless specifically asked).
Are you a speculative fiction writer? Is Science Fiction and Fantasy your thing? If so, you should definitely check out Writers of the Future. Writers of the Future is a online workshop/contest for new writers. As a matter of fact, if you've published a novel, novelette, or more than three short stories, you're not eligible to enter the contest. It really is a contest for beginning writers. And if you complete the writing workshop, you'll already have a submission ready to go.
But here's the best part…the validation you receive from winning the contest. That's because the contest judges are giants in the genre. Current judges include Orson Scott Card, Kevin J. Anderson, and Brandon Sanderson. And some of the contest's previous judges include legends such as Frank Herbert, Dr. Jerry Pournelle, and Roger Zelazny.
100+ Other Short Story Publishers
These 6 aren't the only platforms available. In fact, there are tons of publishers out there! Just remember one thing:
Submit your stories to the appropriate outlet.
There's no sense in sending your spooky thriller to a publication that specializes in wholesome love stories. Again, this can send your manuscript straight to the bin.
This being said… Here are lists of of over 100 other publications you can consider submitting your short story too.
- Where to Submit Short Stories–The Write Life
- Publishers of Short Story Collections–Bookfox
- Short Story Publishers that Pay $500–Freedom with Writing
- 5 Great Places to Submit for First-timers–International Writer's Collective
- 77 Publications with Open Submissions–Medium
You won't get accepted every time. Learn to take rejection.
Just because you submit a short story does not mean it's going to be published. As a matter of fact, it's more likely not to be. That's a cold, hard reality that all short story writers will have to face. Just take it with a grain of salt, and go forth improving and applying. And look on the bright side, all the rejection only makes getting published that much sweeter.
How to Publish a Short Story All Summed Up
When it comes to publishing a short story, it all boils down to two things–apart from the actual story.
Attention to detail and patience.
By thoroughly examining and adhering to a publication's guidelines, you'll give yourself a distinct advantage over the many writers who don't. But that alone doesn't guarantee success. Just remember, if you don't accepted the first time, there's no harm in trying again. Don't give up and your patience and determination will be rewarded.