Monday, September 7, 2009
Short & Sweet: Opportunities for Publishing Short Fiction
Your novel is completed and you're undergoing that self-flaggellating procedure known as "submitting" to editors and/or agents. Your book is going through the last steps in the publishing process while you anxiously await the awesome date of its release. You're suffering a bout of writer's block, or your schedule (or sanity) prohibits undertaking another new full length project. BUT, in all these cases you are anxious to write. Or, maybe you have found that shorter fiction is better suited to your creative sensibilities at the moment but you are looking for other alternatives to romance novellas and anthologies - for which there are also numerous publishing opportunities in case you haven't checked them out! How about investigating the opportunities for publishing short fiction in magazines and e-zines? As our membership has shown in recent days, the confession market is alive and well. New Love Stories and Lady Leo publishing are accepting stories in the "confession" genre centered on love and romance. The tried and "Trues" - including True Confessions, True Love, True Romance and True Experience - all accept stories with a romance slant, BUT True Confessions and True Experience publish a wealth of stories outside the love story genre. Life experiences, unpleasant "episodes", brushes with the law, stalkings, bad neighbors, and more, are all welcome fodder for their fiction. So if you feel like writing a "bad girl learns her lesson", or a "good samaritan saves the day" story or something else that falls outside the "love" genre, you've got a great market available. What about beyond the confessions - which are what we, as authors in the romance industry, tend to hear the most about when discussing short fiction? Well, as our member Mary Rodgers has proven, opportunities abound. Her wonderfully creative, original fairy tale twist on the Princess and the Frog, "Big Girl" was just published in the September 2009 on-line issue of the ezine, Expanded Horizons. But there are enough e-zines for everyone, ladies and gentlemen! For example, check out Everyday Fiction, the "Once A Day Flash Fiction" on-line magazine that publishes a new, flash-fiction short every day. And do a search for "fiction ezines" and you'll be swimming in sites that are looking for your stories (or poems). From literary fiction, to crime and mystery, romance, fantasy and sci-fi, erotica or horror or speculative fiction, there are homes for your work. There's even "McTruckin" - the ezine that publishes "on the road" stories! If you prefer your stories find a home in a paper venue (i.e., printed magazine), you'll find yourself plenty of sources there, as well. Outside of the romance confession magazines, there are a plethora of genre publications. Mystery and crime short fiction is published in numerous titles, including the "big boys" of mystery fiction, Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. Looking for a home for fantasy, science fiction, and speculative fiction? Plenty there, too. Check out LOCUS Magazine and you'll see the breadth of this genre's print coverage, but such long-time leaders as Analog, and Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction are terrific places to start. There is also an audience for your fiction in women's magazines with dozens of titles catering to every demographic. Many of them hold fiction contests and publish fiction geared toward their audiences. Check out some of your favorites and you may have a whole new outlet for those stories about life, family, women's issues and home. Even the most niche publications may offer an opportunity for fiction authors. Just as an example, The AKC Gazette (publication of the American Kennel Club) sponsors an annual short story competition. If you write about dogs, cats, horses, guinea pigs or farm animals, there may be someone out there looking for your story! Check out those animal and pet titles for some furry possibilities. And speaking of competitions - there's no better chance to get your work read by numerous editors. Winner, or not, you're getting "eyes" on your writing. Writer's Digest Magazine sponsors an annual competition for short fiction. They have a variety of genres and winners in the categories get their story published in this bible of the writing industry. Likewise, the magazine has a monthly "flash fiction" prompt. The winner of each month gets printed in a subsequent month's issue. The annual contest has a cash prize as well as publication ($3,000!). What could be bad? And similar contests are held by The Writer and Writer's Journal magazines. The most well-known fiction magazines are those that publish literary fiction. If that is your bent, another entire rack of publications may be your shot at fame (though not necessarily fortune). From the Big Kahuna of literary fiction, The New Yorker, to Poets & Writers, and the New York Times, which publishes short fiction as well as "all the news that's fit to print", to the Adirondack Review, and tiny Aliumentum - a magazine devoted to food, including fiction about same, you'll have a lot to choose from. The market is supremely competitive, but perhaps starting with some of the smaller literary journals (and just about every college and university has one - my own alma mater, Skidmore, is, in fact, the home of Salamagundi, a very respected literary magazine) may be exactly your ticket. Regional authors have reviews and journals, and there are enthnic publications as well as spiritual ones. Naturally, the list of literary ezines is equally as long. Publishing short fiction can further your career as a novelist, as well. Offering numerous "tastes" of your writing, finding different audiences beyond the romance and novel readers, and guaranteeing yourself a wealth of exposure not just to readers, but to the folks who may decide they want to buy your fiction; this is a big, big plus in establishing you as an author with a healthy customer base. And having a resume that includes short fiction can only enhance your "marketability" for a novel publisher, as someone who is reaching these other, possibly untapped, readers. Consider these avenues for publication while you are in between full-length projects. If you want to write short fiction, there are simply too many places to list that want your stories. No matter the genre, you've got an audience just waiting to fall in love with your work. by Lise Horton, VP, RWA/NYC, Inc.