How to Publish Short Stories
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How to Publish Short Stories

Comprehensive guide on publishing short stories. How to publish fiction.

If you're like many people who dream of becoming writers, you probably have tons of short stories saved on your computer or even printed out and scattered around the house. Well, it's time to stop dreaming and start doing! You can publish those short stories and find an audience for your work. It's a great way to make a name for yourself in the writing world. In fact, world famous author Stephen King started out by publishing short fiction in men's magazines! All you need is a healthy dose of talent and a lot of persistence.

Before you can even think about publishing your work, you need to make sure that it's properly edited. Typos and grammatical errors are an easy way to get your story sent to the slush pile before the editors have even finished the first paragraph. Plus, every writer can use a little help with content. All writers, at one point or another, make some silly mistake that they don't even notice. This is where other writers come into play. Who better to help you polish and hone your work than those in the same boat? You absolutely need to get yourself into a local or online writing group. Searching websites like Meetup.com, browsing through the local newspaper, or even starting a group of your own are all ways to get involved and to make your work shine. Plus, it's a great opportunity to network with other writers in the area.

Once you're sure your story is perfect, it's time to find literary journals that are interested in your work. New Pages is a website that has the most comprehensive list of literary magazines from all over the world. This is a great place to start researching journals and finding a few that would be good fits for your work. Most literary journals will advise reading a few issues of the magazine before submitting your story, but the truth is, if you're sending out a high volume of stories, this is going to take up a lot of your time. It's best to just find journals that accept short stories. Just make sure that you read through the submission guidelines for each journal that you submit to and that you follow them exactly. Even missing out on a simple instruction, such as listing your name at the top of each page, will land you in the slush pile immediately, no matter how good your work is.

When you send your story out, either online or through regular mail, also be sure to include a short cover letter. This letter should be professional in nature and to the point. You can list other publications or awards you have won, but don't go into details about your personal life or your unrelated work. Close the letter formally.

For best results, you'll want to send your story out to as many publications as possible. These are referred to in the publishing world as "simultaneous submissions." Many magazines and journals will ask writers not to do this, but any working writer absolutely has to. Rejection or acceptance letters can sometimes take up to a year to arrive, and if you waited that long between each submission, it would take you years to publish anything. Just be sure that you immediately withdraw all submissions if your story is accepted into a journal.

If a journal contacts you and wishes to publish your story, great! Review any agreements that you sign and make sure you understand what kind of rights you are granting the publication. Most journals will ask for First American Serial Rights. This simply means that the publication has the right to publish your work once in their journal. After that, all rights revert back to the author, with the exception that, if the work appears elsewhere, it must state that it first appeared in said publication.

As a final note, don't let rejection get you down. Most writers will get far more rejection slips than they do acceptances. However, it's important to believe in your work and to keep putting it out there. Eventually, someone will bite, and you'll have the honor of being a published writer.

 Sources:

Meetup: http://www.meetup.com

New Pages: http://www.newpages.com

Information about publishing rights: http://www.writing-world.com/rights/copyright.shtml

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