Posted by : Sherri Cornelius Thursday, December 16, 2010

Several years ago I made a couple of half-hearted attempts to get my short stories published, but I never was able to successfully scale the veritable mountain of available markets. The process got to me, so I quit. This morning I decided to give it another go. Don’t know what made me think I’d be able to handle it any better today, but here I am.

I use Duotrope to narrow down the search for magazine markets, and while it’s an indispensable tool, it doesn’t make it an automatic process by any means. I’ve been researching for almost an hour and haven’t come up with one viable market. I’m starting at the high end of the payscale and working my way down, so I’m sure I’ll come across something eventually, but meanwhile, it’s drudgery.

The first challenge is defining the work, in terms of genre (fantasy), subgenre (light fantasy? magic realism? We’ll go with “Any subgenre.”), style (I’d call it quirky, but that returns no results so again: “Any subgenre.”). I choose my story specs, length and such, and hit Enter. I get 70 results. Wowzers. That’s a lot of stuff to go through, and of course I’m not familiar with most of these markets so not only do I have to research their submission requirements, but also their style to see if my story will match. I’m afraid my story won’t match any style.

I’d like to get paid, of course, but I’m mostly hungry for a cred, so I choose any payscale and sort from high to low. I don’t want to wait for six months before I can submit again, so I discard those who won’t take simultaneous submissions. I’m working my way through the list, but I’ll have to take a break before I make any real progress, it seems.

What method do you use for sorting through all these markets? Have you been successful? I’d love to hear how you climbed to the summit of Market Mountain. Don’t be shy.

{ 4 comments... read them below or Comment }

  1. I agree, the market sifting is really hard, and it gets particularly hairy the lower down the payscale you go. I have found that with fewer pro markets, there isn't as much hunting to do, but of course most of the pro markets don't do sim subs or electronic ones in many cases, so I usually set those aside until last. I know this might be backward, but I prefer electronic submissions in these greener times, and even if a market is particularly great and would be even greater for my career, I can't help but feel a tinge of disdain for them if they haven't joined the twenty-first century yet.

    Three of my last short stories have been published on these two markets: Reflection's Edge and Absent Willow Review. I like both sites. Reflection's Edge pays fifteen bucks, or $30 if you're the featured story for that issue. Absent Willow pays nothing as a rule, but every other month they have an Editor's Choice pick that pays $50, or something to that effect. It's in their Terms and Conditions. But I liked Absent Willow's site a lot and they feature some really good work on there, most of which fits the kind of stuff I write.

    S: I agree about Absent Willow, they seem like a great company to have a credit from.

    Also, when you end up on these sites, there are other sites like and others who will repost the links to all of the internet's free fiction, so you could end up with a number of eyes on your work.

    The two markets I've been trying like hell to break into are Clarkesworld and Apex Magazine. Both take electronic subs, pay pro rates, and even though they don't take sim subs, their turnaround is fast enough that it doesn't much matter. CW will often reject you within a couple days (haha, I'm so cynical) and Apex is upwards of a week or two, which isn't too bad at all. Heliotrope is also a good mag, as well as Tor. I think Tor does take sim subs too. GUD Magazine is also decent.

    I've been rejected by Clarkesworld, but I don't think I subbed to Apex. I can't remember exactly, but it seems like it was just a matter of the story not being a good fit. I will be saving those biggies who don't take sim subs till I've worked my way down the list a bit.

    If you write any horror at all, you might also check out Dark Markets. Some of the markets they list will also take fantasy and other spec fic.

    Thanks for the tip!

  2. I can't imagine having the energy or patience for this right now, but I think your method sounds right- winnow it down until the list is manageable. Or, as I mentioned on FB, put up the list and throw a dart at it :). I had a dream last night that I started my own lit magazine online. Maybe that's where our future lies...

    S: Oh Lord, Sarah, that would be awesome! 'Course, that probably takes a lot more energy than writing, even.

  3. I should also mention that Absent Willow manages to rub elbows with some pretty big names. The first story I had published there appeared right next to an interview with Jim Butcher, so that was cool.

  4. I don't know if it matters or not, but I had a rejection from Absent Willow Review about a year ago. I got a personalized rejection, but it seemed close. They got back to me really soon. If you're doing the sort of thing they like, they're a good starting point.
    S: I remember that, and your experience with them put them high on my list. They seem like a classy joint.

    I've not done this in a long time, but I think my process sounded pretty much like yours. I don't have any special thing to add, except that I started with a Google search for online magazines in my genre. I checked out the pages, then would look 'em up on Duotrope.

    HTH, and good luck!

    Thank you, dear Knyt. :)


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