Since this is ostensibly a blog about writing, I’d better post something related to that subject. I’m actually in between projects right now; I’m brainstorming and outlining for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in November, getting ready for this crazy September, and setting up the blog. In between I’m thinking about submitting my stories for publication.
In the past year I’ve written four short stories that I consider to be at or near the publishable level, but I haven’t actually sent them anywhere yet. So I’m starting to do some research, which it turns out is more complicated than it looks. First off, different magazines pay different rates (if they pay rates at all), and while I’d be thrilled with almost any publication, it would be nice to get paid (after all, my ultimate goal is to do this professionally), and it doesn’t hurt to start with places near the upper end of the pay scale. These are, of course, more competitive… but might as well aim high.
Second, different publications have different genres. This seems pretty obvious… I shouldn’t submit my general fiction to a Fantasy magazine, and I shouldn’t submit my Science Fiction stories to a hunting magazine (unless maybe it’s about hunting cyborg deer… with lasers on their heads). It goes deeper than that, though… some publications prefer humor, some prefer darker stuff, some prefer action, some prefer character drama… and it may come down to the individual taste of the editor reading your story, which is something you have no control over, unless it’s an editor you personally met who agreed to take a look at your story.
Of course, the best way to get a sense of what kind of stories a magazine publishes is to read it. So that’s what this research largely consists of: reading. Once I’ve narrowed down a candidate publication for a story, then I have to double-check their submission guidelines, make sure everything is formatted correctly (some places are stricter than others), send it off, and wait maybe 5-6 months for what will likely be a “thanks but no thanks.”
Hmmm, maybe I shouldn’t have written all that out. It was kind of discouraging. Of course, there are other avenues to consider as well… contests (just have to be wary of which contests are actually scams), or just posting my writing up on the web and seeing what happens. I’ll probably still do that occasionally, but at least for now my goal is publication.