Lessons Learned: Tips for Getting Your Short Stories Published

I want to start with a disclaimer: I’m not an expert here. Anything but. At the date of this post, I have 15 published stories. I’m still a newbie to publishing. But in that time I’ve sent out a boatload of submissions to nearly every market that might be able to use one of my stories. With every rejection/acceptance I feel like I learn something new about the crazy world of short story submissions. Hopefully this advice can save you some time. When I first started sending my stories out, these tips would have been a huge help.

Make Sure Your Story is Perfect

This is the best place to start. You’ve poured your heart and soul into your short story. But, before you send it off, you should take that extra step to make sure that every word is exactly where it needs to be. Run spell check. Do a slow read through to make sure you haven’t missed any omitted words and to catch any awkward phases. Also: here’s a formatting tip. Many places I’ve submitted to in the past prefer the Shunn Manuscript Format. It’s a common enough request that I now format all stories I write this way (unless the market states otherwise).

Know Your Markets

Do some research. I write horror fiction. I use websites like Dark Markets or Horror Tree to find places to submit my stories. Then, once I find a location that I might have a story for, I read the submission guidelines. And when I say ‘read the submission guidelines’ I really do mean that. Look at word count, formatting tips, and stick to them. The short story market is competitive enough without making it harder on yourself.

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Stay Organized

Once you get a bunch of stories out on submission calls, it can get a little tough to track where they are and how long they’ve been out. I like to use a Google Spreadsheet to track what stories are out and what stories still need to be submitted. It makes my process a lot easier when it comes time to draft that e-mail or upload that story into Submittable. It may seem silly. But hey! Baby steps are still steps.

And perhaps, most importantly:

Don’t Lose Hope

Sending out a lot of stories gets you a lot of rejections. Seeing that same form rejection over and over again can sap you of any hope that you will ever get published. I’ve been there. Believe me. A lot of writers have. The first Harry Potter book was rejected by over a dozen publishers. Stephen King had so many rejection slips early in his career that he had to use a spike in his wall to hold them up. Every rejection I receive is an invitation to get better. I always try to remember that the only way to improve is to keep my head down and keep writing. Even when it hurts.

Those are some small tips. Hopefully my myriad of failures will help you on your endeavors. What lessons have you learned from your submissions? Feel free to comment below.

Writing Goals for 2017

Hello everyone and welcome to the New Year! 2016, for the most part, was a great year for me professionally. I wrote some great material and had some major successes for publishing. But, like anything in life, there is always room for improvement. Today I wanted to outline a few goals I have for the upcoming year. A few things I can strive for to reach the level in my writing career that I want. Sound good? Okay. First things first…

 

1. Finish a Novel

I think this is kind of a big one. I’ve had false starts too numerous to name and I’m honestly a bit sick of it. My newest project, a Gothic Horror novel, is coming along nicely. I’ve been doing heavy plotting to avoid getting derailed. 2017 will be the year that I finish one up.

2. Publish 5 Stories

You might be thinking to yourself, “Logan, 5 seems like a kind of arbitrary number.” Well, dearest reader, in both 2014 and 2015 I published 4 short stories, which is an even more arbitrary number. My big mission for this year is just Career Improvement. Pushing myself to write more and aggressively submit is the next logical step.

3. Read 50 Books

Another number with ‘5’ in it. Most professional writers would tell you that one key to becoming a better writer is to read a lot. And this is the way it starts. I’m four books in already. Must… keep…. reading….

4. Network

Not social network, though that may be a factor. No, I want to get talking with some other writers! Make some connections! I know there are other writers, just like me, looking for input and support. We all want to improve. Sometimes having a like-minded friend is a good step.

Okay! That’s four goals. Finish a novel, publish more, read more, and network. I hope 2017 will be awesome. As always, please follow me on Twitter @logan_noble and follow this blog! Do you have any writing goals (or any goals for that matter) for the year of our Lord 2017? Comment below!

Until next time…

Next Article: Wednesday the 25th.

New Story Alert!: ‘They Come Crawling’

You read right! As of November 2016, my story ‘They Come Crawling’ has been released into the wild, courtesy of Alban Lake Publishing!

It’s featured in a incredible book of short stories focused on H.P. Lovecraft’s infamous institution of higher learning, Miskatonic University! As soon as my contributor copy came in the mail I DEVOURED this thing. If you’re feeling some good horror, please go pick it up here or here! You can also check out all of Alban Lake Publishing other books on their website!

Happy reading!