Thursday, June 22, 2017

Submitting to Smaller Markets

Often novice writers focus all their energy on the big event -- the manuscript -- with the dream of landing an agent, and subsequently, a publishing deal. And sure, there is no better trial by fire than writing your first book. But writers would be doing themselves a disservice if they didn’t consider submitting to smaller markets in the interim. What I mean by that is -- write a damn short story.

 I love writing short stories. They give me the luxury of experimenting with genre and narrative style without committing a lot of time to a manuscript. As a mystery writer, the short story can be especially useful in playing around with mood, tension, foreshadowing, red herrings, and suspense. For Brave New Girls, I tried my hand at developing an unreliable narrator, something I had never attempted before. Last summer, I wrote a 9,000-word story about a girl who gets murdered at her own Sweet Sixteen, solely so I could explore a darker side to my storytelling.

This last weekend, I finished a story about a teen girl who finds the dead body of her tormentor in the deer path between their houses. I was aiming for subtle clues with a twisty ending which, if my early readers are being forthright, paid off. My goal is to submit this story to Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, a highly competitive (and paying!) market who publishes mystery tycoons like Megan Abbott and Lawrence Block. 

The money isn't the draw, although I do believe writers should be paid for their work. But to get published in EQMM is major street cred -- something my agent can slap onto my submissions. Not to mention, it would get me active member status at Mystery Writers of America, which is something I'm gunning for. 

So, how do you go about submitting to smaller markets? Well, for starters, you need to find the markets. Your best bet is to subscribe to Duotrope for $5 a month. There, you'll have access to market listings and reports, plus a handy way to keep track of your submissions. A friend told me about The (Submission) Grinder, a free site that lists markets and submission statistics, but I have yet to use it so I can't comment on its effectiveness.

And with everything, research! Read the markets, triple check the submission guidelines. Make sure that what you write is a good fit for their market. And make sure they're legit. 

Do you often submit short stories and poetry to small markets? Do you have any to recommend?  Sound off belooooooooow.


Steve Vernon said...

I've had quite a few of my short stories published in magazines and anthologies. I have also had some luck moving stories through BundleRabbit.

I do find some markets through THE HORROR TREE, particularly in the horror, fantasy and scifi market.

Carrie Beckort said...

Thanks for the post, Kimberly! I've not done a lot of short story writing, but I have been thinking about it. One of the hesitations is not knowing what to do with them, so this helps a lot!

Cheryl Oreglia said...

I have to admit this post scares the crap out of me. I haven't submitted a single story for publication. I don't know where to begin, who to send to, or what my niche might be, but maybe it's time to come out from under my enormous shell, and look around. I seem to be motivated by fear.

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