This post is part of a series:Duotrope.com is arguably the easiest place to research the short story market (ETA: Duotrope went behind a pay wall. Ralan.com, though, is still a good resource for SF/F markets). Enter the genre of your story, the wordcount, and payment, and a lists of markets will appear. Here's a list of terms you'll come across:
1. Write and polish a short story.
2. Research the short story market.
3.Make a list of appropriate markets, and begin a submissions record.
4. Submit the story to the first market on the list, and keep submitting.
Wordcount: The breakdown between flash, short story, novelette, and novella are in Part 1.
Payment: Short stories are most often paid for by the word. Professional is deemed to be five cents or more per word; semi-pro is more than one cent, but less than five; token is anything less; for-the-love markets don't pay at all. In general, professional magazines generally have a larger number of readers than semi-pro, and semi-pro generally has more readers than token.
Some markets offer royalties, meaning a percentage of every sale goes to the authors (these are usually anthologies). Be aware that if a market offers only royalties, you might be paid very little if the magazine/anthology sells poorly.
SFWA-Qualifying: SFWA is the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. To be a market that qualifies a writer towards membership, the magazine must pay pro rates, must have been publishing consistently for one year, and have circulation of at least 1,000. For the fine print, and a list of SFWA-qualifying markets, click here.
On Acceptance/On Publication: Some magazines pay on acceptances (when they tell you they want to publish your story), others pay after the short story has been published.
Response Time: How long the magazine will take to reply after you submit. Often magazines have an average response time, and a maximum response time.
Query: An e-mail or letter asking a question sent to a publication. If you haven't heard back from a magazine after their maximum stated response time, it's acceptable to send a short, polite e-mail asking the status of the story. Sometimes manuscripts do go astray. If the magazine doesn't have a maximum stated response time, wait at least three months before querying.
Normally, it's completely unnecessary (and annoying to editors) to query for permission to submit a short story. If you have something outside their stated guidelines -- longer than their upper word count limit, for example -- you could query and see if they're interested in seeing the story anyway.
Multiple Submissions: Submitting more than one story to the same market. Magazines usually don't allow them.
Simultaneous Submissions: Submitting the same story to multiple markets. Magazines usually don't allow this, either.
First Rights/No Reprints: Many magazines are looking for "first rights," or the right to be the first person to publish a story. If you've already thrown a story up on your blog, first rights are gone (sorry!).
Despite all the helpful information on Duotrope.com, one of the best ways to research a magazine is to read it. Does your story fit with what they publish? Would you be happy to see your story published here?