1. dgraham
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    dgraham Senior Member

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    Publishing Short Stories

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by dgraham, Oct 10, 2009.

    First thread, and sorry if this has been asked and written about before (if so please point me to the thread) but I couldn't find a thread in a quick search.

    I have been writing short stories for a while, and I have some that I'd like to try to get published, but I'm curious about how to go about it. I assume that the most common way to publish a short story is in a magazine or journal of some kind, but how can I find one that would be a good fit for me?

    Secondly, and related, do I need an agent if I just want to try getting short stories published. I assume an agent would actually know about all the most appropriate places for me to submit my work, but given the (I assume) relatively low payout for a short story is it worth it financially?

    Thanks a lot!
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Go to duotrope.com. They have a nice listing of magazines which you can sort by genre, pay rate, etc. Some magazines have stories you can browse on their site, so you can see which kind of stories certain magazines are looking for. Also, make sure you follow the magazine's submission guidelines to the letter.

    And no, you don't need an agent to submit stories to magazines.
     
  3. dgraham
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    dgraham Senior Member

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    Thanks so much for the quick reply! Site looks great.

    I have another question. If I submit the same work to multiple publishers, will I need to notify the others if one decides to publish one of my stories? Do I need to submit one by one, or can I submit to multiple publishers at once?
     
  4. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Look at publisher guidelines to see if they mention simultaneous submissions. Some magazines do allow simultaneous submissions while others don't. If your story is accepted in one magazine, then you should immediately notify other magazines that your work has been accepted elsewhere.

    You will need to submit the story to each magazine one by one.

    Also, I would recommend doing an online search for short story cover letters.
     
  5. dgraham
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    dgraham Senior Member

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    Thanks so much, will keep all that in mind!
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    fyi, agents don't rep short stories, as there's no money in it for them... the only exception would be if the writer is a major client of theirs and they can't afford to say no...

    as for the 'one by one' question, you of course send the ms out separately, as far as mailing it goes, but as was also noted in the post above, that works only for publishers whose guidelines say simultaneous submissions are ok... and each query/cover letter must be addressed to each one, individually, as generic ones will usually be tossed...
     
  7. Irish87
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    Irish87 Contributing Member

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    I actually have a question about short stories too, I figure it would only be kind of rude to mooch off of Dgraham's post. If you have a collection of short stories which reside in the same world and incorporate many of the same characters would a publisher have any real interest them or is it still just considered short stories?

    Hmm, I think I've confused myself. Damn.
     
  8. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    It's still just short stories. It's very unlikely a publisher would take a short story collection from an unpublished writer.
     
  9. Torana
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    Torana Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi, Irish87.

    A very friendly word of advice, if you wish to break into the publishing world with your work, aim to get pieces accepted individually first. Don't jump straight into the shark infested waters before you can swim! Write a few short stories that are completely different to each other and try and get those accepted in a few different places.

    Once you have a bit of a author bio with some publishing credits behind you, then attempt to get your collection published somewhere. Always start small in the publishing world and work your way slowly to the top.
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ditto banzai's answer...
     
  11. Dermit
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    Dermit Member

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    While I agree with the heart of your advice, I have to disagree with this sentence.

    True, trying for an anthology as an unpublished writer isn't the way to go, but i always recommend setting your sights for the best market available for your piece. Work your way down from the top. Submit to your ideal market first - because why not? Sure, you'll probably be rejected, but who cares? Rejection is par for the course. You may as well get rejected by the best, to start.

    This is true for shorts and it's doubly true for novels. Never sell yourself short - or at least not until all the tall folks have turned you down.
     
  12. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I agree with Dermit on this. Don't submit to the nonpaying or low paying markets without first submitting to your ideal markets. Start at the top and work your way down. I've seen plenty of people submit to nonpaying markets just because they feel its a good way to get introduced into the short story business. But some of those stories are definitely good enough to get admitted to higher paying and higher end markets.
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i have to ditto that ditto!
     
  14. gitamo
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    gitamo Member

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    Great thread. Thanks for that website!
     
  15. Fox Favinger
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    Fox Favinger Contributing Member

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    I also gotta say this. Get your work copyrighted! Several sites I checked out require that you can verify the copyright of your work, and these are non-paying sites I checked! And yes you need to copyright before you publish if you wish to easily get paid for damages, otherwise you have to win the case.

    At $45(has this changed?) a story that's not cheap, which precisely why I recommend going for the paying publishers. Even if you only get 100 bucks you still get the copyright expenses back.

    This is something I need to do, but right now I can't afford it. Hopefully next month I'll have the cash ughh...
     
  16. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You do not need to register your copyright to be protected. As soon as you have a completed draft of your work in a durable mediumj, your work is protected by copyright law.

    Keep your old drafts. They are the evidence any legitimate site will need if there is any question of yoru ownership of the work. Publishers will take care of the paperwork and fees to register the copyright on your behalf when they accept your work for publication.

    The only instance in which you will need to register your copyright is if you find that someone has plagiarised your work and you need to take them to court. Before you can file in court you will have to register your copyright.

    Oh, if you are self-publishing, registering your copyright is another one of those many details that falls back into your own lap.

    Other than that, save your money.
     
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  17. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    As Cogito indicated, you do not need to register your short stories for copyright before submitting them or signing a contract with a magazine paying you to publish them (or even non-paying markets).

    I went to one of the contracts for my short fiction that I signed and am including relevant sections for this discussion:

    None of these clauses indicate a requirement to register the piece with the copyright office, and pay the required amount ($45.00--if that is what it is).

    One may register a work, but it would not be a wise thing to list the copyright and date on the piece when submitting it.

    Terry
     
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  18. Fox Favinger
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    Fox Favinger Contributing Member

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    I must have hit odd ball publishers then because they did require the copyright info. I stand corrected.

    EDIT: I appreciate the calm correction 'cause I just got torn apart on another board for my ignorance. They don't like newbs lol competitive gamers can be nasty.
     
  19. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    publishers of what?... and why did they require 'copyright info' and what did the 'info' consist of?... makes no sense to me, unless they were some variety of vanity press and wanted you to register the existing copyright on your book, before printing it...

    no pro or seasoned writer would register a short story copyright and no 'sites' should be used to register your book, screenplay, or song lyrics copyright, other than the only official one [in the us, anyway], www.copyright.gov ...any that claim they'll 'register your copyright' or 'copyright' your work for free are scams...

    if you don't have a good reason to need LOC registration, then the best place to register and archive your work is at the writers union... www.wga.org [west branch, for scripts] and www.wgae.org [east branch, for books, plays, poetry, music/lyrics]...
     
  20. Fox Favinger
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    Fox Favinger Contributing Member

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    I must have misinterpreted what these guys were saying.
     
  21. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Yes. The intent is that you are attesting that the work is solely yours. If that is found not to be true, the contract is nullified and you will be required to return any monies paid out to you under the contract. In truth, you cannot grant a license to publish something you don't own the rights to, so it is somewhat redundantly stated. In a legal sense, they are overstating it for clarity.

    The first part implies that they won't register the copyright for you. But that is all. If the piece is sold, you can register the piece using the payout to cover the fee. Or you can save your money unless someone tries to steal your work and you need to file a lawsuit. A publishing agreement is a pretty nice breadcrumb to add to the trail of your drafts.
     
  22. Fox Favinger
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    Fox Favinger Contributing Member

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    Ok I see where I mislead myself. Several sites phrased it like this one and it had me thinking I needed copyright to work with them. Thanks for the correction.
     

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