Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wordcraft -- Resolution 3: Get out there!

Okay, you’ve written a story. Maybe several stories. And you think you’re ready to publish. Well, here’s my experience. I tried writing a novel (actually, a few novels), sent them to agents and got -- nothing. In those pre-online days, it seemed as if literary agents could have made a living from re-selling the stamps off my SASE’s.

So when a friend from a university novel writing course confessed she’s writing short stories now and asked whether I’d heard of Glimmer Train, I told her what I’m telling you. I have heard of the big contests; I’ve entered them; and I’m not trying to discourage anyone from going out for them.

But big publications and big contests receive many more stories than they can handle. Most entries get a form rejection at best or nothing at. In the meantime, smaller publications, less prestigious sites, and sites that don’t pay as much may be eager for your stories, or at least willing to provide valuable feedback.

Finding them isn’t as hard as you may think. By following resolution #1, you know what kinds of stories you write, that is, what genres you do best. Your writing group from resolution #2 has helped you work through a lot of basic craft issues. But ultimately, the only person who can tell whether your stories are publishable is a publisher.

A lot of you link to Duotrope’s Digest. Good for you. Duotrope can also search for the most accessible sites in given genres. I ran such a search, then researched the results again, looking for sites with credibility, the ones I’d be proud to have my work seen at.

I found The Lorelei Signal. It looked good. It showcased stories I respected. And its guiding light, Carol Hightshoe, published my first story, “Gift Cards of an Ex-Goddess.” It’s still one of my favorite publications.  The next reading period begins January 15, at

Other small publishers have printed my stories, or even when they haven’t, they’ve made comments that enabled me to sell stories elsewhere. Stories such as “Shaman,” (rejected by Heroic Fantasy Quarterly but published by ; or “The Gates of Shaizar,” (rejected for a Ricasso Press anthology but since accepted by both Pulp Empire and Abandoned Towers).

Just don’t aim too low. Sites that will accept everything don’t give you credibility. And sites you’re embarrassed to be seen at -- not worth it.

(Next Wednesday -- Resolution number 4: pay back by paying forward.)

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