August 29, 2012

Short Story Primer, Part 3: Make a List

This post is part of a series:

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.

After you've read up on markets for short stories, make a list of markets that buy stories of your genre and wordcount.  Put what you consider the best market at the top of the list, and end with the last place you'd be happy to submit to.  What's "best"?

I can't tell you that.  Maybe there's a magazine you love and have always wanted to be published in.  Maybe you want that short response time, because waiting three months sounds like torture.  Many writers start with pro-paying markets both for the pay and the wider exposure.

Once you've made a list, you need a way to keep track of your submissions.  Unless a magazine asks for a revision, the etiquette is to only submit a story once.  Record keeping is also important to avoid an accidental multiple or simultaneous submission.

I, at least, can't keep track of this in my head -- especially not for a dozen short stories.  There are a variety of ways to keep track of submissions (, I believe, has a tracking method online), but I just use Excel:

Date Sent
Date Expected/
Word Count
Story Title
Market 1
Potential Market A
Market 2

Potential Market B
Market 3
2nd round; R

Potential Market C
Market 4

Market 5
2nd round; R

Market 6
Personal R

Market 7

 I changed all of these from actual market names, of course, but this is essentially how I keep submission records.  Under the story title, I list markets that the story could be sent to if the current market rejects it.  This makes turning a story around fairly easy.  I italicize any potential markets I have another story out at, so I don't accidentally send a multiple submission.  I bold the market a story's currently at, so it's easy to find.  It's also nice to have a quick reference of the date I should query if I haven't heard back from the market yet.

During this process of submitting, I occasionally check the listings again.  Sometimes a magazine that was closed for submissions will open.  Anthologies also crop up.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Spreadsheets. I haven't seen one of those used before to keep track of submissions. Good idea though.