1. Norule
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    Norule Member

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    Publishing short stories?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by Norule, May 10, 2011.

    Im wondering what to do if I want to get a short story published?

    Do I look up a magazine(?) or something that has work of a similar genre and contact them?

    Or... what? :)
     
  2. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Best place to start is duotrope.com

    There you can input the length of your story, the genre, subgenre, the payscale you're looking for, etc.

    From that it will bring up a list of publiations which match your criteria.
     
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  3. MMC83
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    MMC83 New Member

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    This might not be the suggestion your looking for, but

    You could always enter it into some short story competitions. I know of some websites that publish the winning stories in their anthologies ...

    Could be one option for you...
     
  4. Agent Vatani
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    Agent Vatani Active Member

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    Knight Agency
    I looked into them, they seem like a pretty good agency.
    They do short stories.
     
  5. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    An agency for short stories? That's...very unusual. I'm not sure why you'd need an agent with short stories, to be honest.
     
  6. Agent Vatani
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    Agent Vatani Active Member

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    You could self publish....

    Well conact a publisher... I'm not real sure where to look.. Would they even be in a mangazine?
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    legit agents do NOT rep short stories unless they're by valued clients who've made them a lot of money with their books...

    Knight does rep book collections of same [see below], but not individual ones, other than as explained above...

    would 'what' be in a magazine?... if you mean short stories, yes, many magazines publish them... if you meant publishers, of course every publication has the name of its publisher in/on it...
     
  8. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Generally true, but not always, actually. I know a local writer who's had an agent for years pitching his short stories. Of course, patiently waiting for enough to build a collection, and now a novel, but with enough publishing credentials and report, even before an agent has made any real money from a client, they may support a writer who's still writing shorts. The goal, eventually, is a novel, of course, but some agents do take on such clients as a long term investment, of sorts.

    That's not to say a short story writer should ever expect, or even hope to find an agent to pitch their short stories (though boy does it help!). Just clarifying, so we don't put out absolutes that aren't actually absolute, you know. :)

    Oh, and I'll clarify it's a big agent, very legit. Like very, very big and legit, oddly enough. Or maybe not oddly, as such agents can take on long-term-project clients with a bit more security, I suppose.
     
  9. Agent Vatani
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    Agent Vatani Active Member

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    Would a publisher be in a mangazine?
     
  10. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    A publisher IS a magazine...
     
  11. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Yeah, short stories are most often published in magazines (though sometimes in anthologies- which still doesn't require an agent). Collections of short stories are published by more traditional publishing houses, but only usually when the author has already established themselves (and thus they have some idea that it will sell). Such collections may require an agent, but since magazines accept unsolicited and unagented submissions, there's no need for agents there.
     
  12. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    I just published The End on the kindle (13,000 words). It seemed the easiest and quickest way to go.

    Cheers.
     
  13. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    13,000 words is (at best) at the upper edge of what constitutes a short story. Few short story venues are likely to take something over 10,000 words at most (most have a cut off of 5,000 in my experience). I can fully understand that for something like that, which to me seems more like a novelette or short novella, self-publishing via Kindle may be the best option, but I'm unconvinced that a single, standard length short story would do particularly well self-published on Kindle.
     
  14. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Quickest and easiest toward which goal?

    I see a lot of people saying just self publishing and e-version of a story is the easiest and quickest, but to what? To getting a story where others can technically read it?

    I always feel the quickest and easiest method is often to keep working, keep soliciting the journals you respect and want your work in, etc. It won't get anyone instant gratification, but in the long run will give a writer a huge leg up if they have some meaningful publishing credentials, experience in the industry through short stories submitting and working with a publications editors, and improving one's craft. Short story publication can also lead to agents calling YOU, asking about your novel, instead of just you soliciting them when you could have just continued writing.

    Sure, it might take longer for one to get their story in the bright lights of being technically published (err), but to me I always look at writing as an investment into my legacy. And the quickest, easiest way to build a legacy is to continue working and slogging through and slowly building report and credentials. It's all about building momentum, get a toe in the door, then a foot, then a leg, etc. Self publishing almost always, whether a story or novel, isn't a step forward for most writers, doesn't build momentum, doesn't really do much toward building a legacy.

    Just my perspective, though. I advise most writers to focus on short stories at first, even if they want to write novels, because most of us don't have the skills or luck to skill A-ball to go straight to the majors, and many who do have the talent burn out anyway. People who aren't treating publishing as a race, take their time to study and learn and slowly build momentum I personally believe have the faster and even easier route in the long run. The nature of momentum is that things start to fall in place. As mentioned, usually self publishing seems to me just staring at the first rung on the ladder hoping the ladder somehow shortens itself.
     
  15. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Gotta say, I agree with pretty much everything you said there.
     
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  16. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi Guys,

    First I don't necessarily disagree with you, but I think you have to consider the circumstances. To begin I have two other novels on the kindle, and the first of them was put there because I got oodles of rejection letters from agents and finally gave up. Sad but true. It was the kindle or nothing.

    Second I rather tend to feel that once you've started down the kindle / self publishing route, you are trapped on it unless and until you hit a huge success. I mean agents aren't stupid, if you come to them with a novel etc, they are going to ask you if its your first book, and if it isn't they'll likely check out your others. If they find it / them languishing in the Amazon polls, that's another mark against you.

    Third, just because your self published doesn't mean that your writing's bad or that you don't spend a lot of time trying to improve it. I certainly do.

    And fourth as for building momentum, you can do that too through the kindle. You just have to do it a different way then you would by going through an agent and a publisher. You have to become your own agent and publisher.

    As for legacies, I'm not really in it for that. I write for me, and I hope that others like what I write, but in the end, even if I didn't sell a single book, I'd still be happy, love what I write.

    Cheers.
     
  17. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    I don't want this to be a critique on your personal (well, actually professional) decisions, so I hope you don't mind. I'm not so much criticizing as wanting to use the opportunity for us all to learn. Having said that, I'll point out that I see this sort of thinking a lot, and it saddens me. It very literally wasn't self-publishing or nothing.

    You also had the option to continue honing your craft and improving the quality of your writing.

    The unfortunate thing is this what many professionals in the industry had to do. They were rejected, and kept working. This is unfortunate because one of the biggest stigmas against self-publishing is often somewhat justified in that an agent/publisher may see someone with self-publishing credits and just assume they gave up instead of working harder. This is why self-publishing can sometimes not only not create momentum, but basically put a writer in a hole they never get out of, as you point out with your second point.


    I agree. And just because you do find a traditional publisher doesn't mean your work is great.

    There are stigmas and trends to be aware of, though. Most self-published work is self-published for the very reasons you're stating, and the quality of that work shows. Increasingly writers are choosing self-publishing and rejecting the actual contracts and chances they have via traditional routes. These writers are rare, have usually already been success and followings via traditional means, and is a little different than the self-publishing graveyard of all the aspiring writers that quit too soon, and figured self-publishing to Kindle or Lulu was at least better than nothing. If you're trying to build a legacy and career as a writer, though, in most cases it's actually worse than nothing.

    Self-published works, in my experience, don't usually build momentum as strike it rich. It's the differences between working and saving for retirement via slow-building investments, and hoping to hit the lottery before you're too old.

    Basically, today, and probably for the foreseeable future, moderate success with a self-published title will still probably be seen by the traditional publishing world as lesser than even an unpaid publishing credit in a reputable journal. The fact is, your work does have to be to a certain standard to get published in a decent journal, and it simply doesn't have to be good at all to be self-published, or even to find some self-publishing success.

    That's the crux. Agents love when other editors have basically taken the time to judge your work as at least competent, so even listing reputable publishing credits brings enough context and respect that an agent will at least start to take a query seriously.

    Well, I guess this is the source of our different perspectives, then. I'd say most people on these forums don't fall into this category, though. I hope what you say is the honest truth (and not just a sort of defense mechanism like I see a lot of writers using such arguments as, when they secretly want all the success other writers work for), as if nothing else I'm sure it gives you peace and takes the pressure off.

    For most of us, though, this whole writing thing is more than something we just do for fun, and we have goals and methods and are trying to accomplish very specific things and working our butts off toward those efforts. Then again, most writers are miserable, too.
     
  18. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    popsi...
    re that short story writer you say had a big-time agent repping his stories, was he a newbie nobody with no track record and no personal or referred connection to the agent?...

    if so, i find it really hard to fathom why the agent would have taken on the money-eating and time-consuming task of submitting short stories to magazines...
     
  19. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Of course not. Though he was far from your designation of "valued clients who've made them a lot of money with their books."

    Basically, as discussed in this thread, he was a short story writing being published in journals and I believe the agent he ended up with was one that contact him. I'm not sure due to which publication, though he mention a story in the Harvard Review (a non-paying journal, I'll add) resulted in 5 or 6 agents contacting him, asking if he had plans for a novel.

    This isn't all that rare, and while I agree that agents aren't going to take on someone who's purely a short story writer and has no plans to write a novel, since the money is traditionally to be had in novels, plenty of agents take on short story writers that may eventually write a novel. The grace period, if you want to call it that, is up to the agent, of course. In this case, it was at least 4 years, I believe, between when this writer got his agent, who did work with him for editing and for short story submissions (it's amazing how quickly you pass the slush pile with an agent, I imagine), and this Spring when is debut collection of short stories was released. And yes, he's now working on a novel, of course. ;)

    Like I said, it's rare and a writer shouldn't expect to get an agent to handle their short stories primarily, but there is a bubble that's created where this does in fact happen by the path discussed in this thread.

    The popular, known path is:

    Write novel - pitch novel - get agent - write more novels

    but there's also another path, probably a lot lesser known to those who aren't literary writers:

    write short stories - publish short stories - get agent - write novel

    And sometimes in this process, between getting the agent and writing a novel, agents certainly do support short story writers. Just not forever. It's like in horse racing, sometimes you buy a proven winner and sometimes you invest in what you hope will be a winner in a few years, with time and training. Short stories are a great way to prove to agents you're at least not lame, though. ;)
     
  20. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    thanks for the additional info on that writer...

    the important thing for new writers here to know, however, is that he didn't query with short stories to agents, hoping one would get them published in magazines, since that's just not done...

    querying agents should only be done if one has books to be repped...
     

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