Kate Thornton is a retired US Army officer who enjoys writing both mysteries and science fiction. With over 100 short stories in print, she teaches a short story class and is currently working on a series of romantic suspense novels. She divides her time between Southern California and Tucson, Arizona.
Today, Kate continues with the second part of a mini course on writing short fiction, beginning with marketing.
Marketing your finished work
1. Know your genre. Do you write mystery? Science fiction? Romance? Contemporary literary? I write mostly mystery and science fiction, but I firmly believe that if you can write, you can write anything you want to. Look at your story and figure out where it might belong. Chances are, it could fit into more than one category.
2. Research your markets. Know what they want. Every magazine, anthology or contest has submission guidelines. Read them carefully and give them what they want. If they say under 1000 words, don’t send 1001. If they say snail mail only, get out those envelopes. If they say no vampires, robots, brunettes, or cats, don’t send your epic space opera vampire story about the furry dark robot cats. Keep on looking for a market that fits – or revise your story to fit the market. Either way works.
3. Polish your story again. Give it one more read, made sure it looks great and is in the right format.
4. Submit. Go on, do it. And keep a record of your submissions. A simple Word or handwritten document giving title, market, date of submission and date/type of response is perfect. That way you don’t miss a market or submit the same thing twice to the same market.
A note about cover letters.
Short stories are usually sent with a short cover letter (not a query letter, which is something else entirely.) Cover letters usually say something like this:
Attached (or in the body of this email) please find my original 750 word short story, “Lost in the Woods.”
I am an avid reader of your magazine, and have had work published in “Sewage Monthly,” “Cat Lovers USA,” and “Coal Digest” (or leave credits out if don’t have any – it won’t matter if you don’t have any.)
I look forward to hearing from you.
Avid J. Reader
123 Writer Lane
New York, NY 10000
email@example.com (Your name, address, phone number & email are important!)
Then you wait. But while you are waiting, write something else. Keep on doing that.
Where? Where do I submit?
Here are the links to 2 of my favorite online market guides.
There are others, of course. And if you post to any writers’ forums (or fora for you linguistic purists) you will also find market info. Here’s one I like:
That’s the quick and easy of short stories. Time to write one!