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High or Low? Submitting short stories for new writers.

Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Zephon, Jul 19, 2012.

  1. Zephon

    Zephon Scribe

    I've nearly completed a short story that I wish to option at a few, or if need be, several hundred magazines/ezines/ and other publications. In reading a short biographical piece on GRRM, he said he started with the magazines that paid the most per word, and then worked his way down.

    Is this really the best route to take? He was talking about his experience in the 60's, I'm wondering if it's different now.

    The is important because I don't want to spend months sending work out to more prominent, higher paying publishers only to get shot down because I want the most $ per word.

    Then again I don't want to send my stuff to an eager 1 cent publisher who will happily publish my work, while someone offering a higher amount would do the same.

    What has been your experience and how did you go about getting your first short story published?
  2. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

    I'd start with the highest paying markets and go down from there. I wouldn't submit to non-paying markets. You want the higher-paying markets not only because of the money, which may really be secondary, but because publishing credits aren't going to matter to anyone unless they are in a respected, professional-rate market. So later, when you are submitting a book or another project, you don't want to have a list of non-paying or low-paying markets on your list of publication credits. You don't want to present yourself as a writer whose work can't command a decent rate.
  3. Here's another way to look at it.

    Imagine that there are 100 candidate markets (that is, markets that publish the genre and length of the story you wrote). Imagine you start with the lowest-paying market (#100) and work your way up. These, not coincidentally, are also usually the least prestigious. Now imagine you get accepted by one of these -- say, #85.

    It's entirely possible that if you'd started with the highest-paying (and thus generally most prestigious) markets (#1) and worked your way down, you might have gotten rejected by everyone except #85. But you also might have gotten accepted by someone higher.

    Generally, assuming your goal is to get a story published by as prestigious and high-paying a market as possible, you should start at the top and work your way down.
  4. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Auror

    While getting accepted at the smaller/lower paying markets isn't a guarantee by far (there is plenty of competition at all levels), in general I've always started with the higher paying markets and worked my way down. The higher paying markets generally have a wider/larger audience, so your work would be in front of more eyes to read.

    Another thing to consider, beyond pay rate, is targeting your markets. If you write dark fantasy, markets that don't publish that sub-genre won't accept your story no matter how well-written it is. If a market only accepts stories under 3,000 words, then your 4800 word short story isn't a good match for them, even if the content is generally what they accept.

    I'd recommend making a list of about 10 markets, and set it aside in a file. Send off to the top markets working your way down. (Many don't accept simultaneous submissions). It's better to do this, as you won't have to go back and initiate the research all over again if it should get rejected. You are better prepared to send it off again right away.
  5. Telcontar

    Telcontar Staff Moderator

    If you are serious about marketing the story, and intend to be in it for the long haul (and it may be very long...) then yes, start with the highest-paying markets first. You might as well try to get top dollar for the story, because you might actually get it.
  6. Taro

    Taro Minstrel

    I don't see the harm in aiming high :) if we don't aim high how do we know if we can achieve whats best for us and our writing. yes you may get rejections but that is the process we go through, but all we can do is try.
  7. Zephon

    Zephon Scribe

    Thank You everyone for your help. It makes total sense now to start at the top, I suppose the only obstacle now is my patience!
  8. Zero Angel

    Zero Angel Auror

    I have some cautions that I don't think were fully explored, one suggestion before you despair and one GREAT website to recommend.

    First, as TWErvin2 mentioned, many markets do NOT accept simultaneous submissions. And some of these take a while to get back to you. This may mean that your amazing short story is tied up for a significant amount of time before getting rejected. Unfortunately, this is one of the bad aspects of trying to get published. I usually sort my markets by not just highest-paying, but also response time.

    After this, as soon as I send off a short story, I start writing the next one. If/when I get rejected, I look it over to see if I want to do another revision (short stories BEG to be revised in my opinion) before sending it off to the next on the list (also watch out as some have wait periods before they want to see another story from you). When I finish my next story, I start it through the process as well. If there are any writing contests going on that month/time period that I want to enter, then I focus on that until either I miss the deadline or I submit there.

    I believe that quantity does not necessarily mean that the quality has to suffer, and if you are sitting around waiting to hear back from someone, you might as well start your next adventure!

    Now, one thing that I am going to start doing is once you get down to the dregs of the market and you have not been successful in having your story published, ask yourself if you believe the story is good enough to be published (REALLY ASK YOURSELF and BE HONEST). Review it one final time (by this point, you should have revisited it at least a dozen times depending on your patience with sending it off to different markets).

    If you believe in your story, then publish it on Amazon for $0.99 (or more, but I feel that short stories are a good value at $0.99 and I would feel ripped off by much more than this). By the time you've gotten to the dregs of the markets, you are rarely looking at much more than $50 and a publication listing that you may not be proud of. Sell 150 copies or so of your short story (they can stay up indefinitely) and you've made as much money as you would from the publication. If you are going all the way down to the "real" dregs where you are only getting a token payment (such as a flat $5 or a free issue or something), then RUN to the Amazon bookstore. I also recommend getting some non-friends or honest-friends to give you some serious opinions on your book. The only thing worst than a publication that you are not proud of is a BAD story.

    Finally, may I recommend the website duotrope.com? I use it for all of my story submissions. You can favorite markets and sort them by genre, payment, submission type, etc. An absolute life-saver!

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