Saturday, July 5, 2014

Short and Snappy

Last weekend, I was on a panel at ApolloCon discussing short fiction, and was there still any market for it. The resounding consensus was YES!

As the print magazines began to disappear, there was a brief time when the market might have been shrinking, but as people turn more and more to online venues for their reading pleasure, it has come roaring back. There are probably more online magazines looking for short fiction and poetry today than there ever were print. And new anthologies are announced daily.

What does this mean for you as an author/reader? It means that there are dozens--if not hundreds--of ezines and anthologies to read and/or write for. These short story markets are a great place to hone your craft and make a little money.

It is true, that with the growth of the marketplace, you might not be seeing the same financial return as offered by the big magazines of the past, but it all adds up in the long run. Personally, I made more off selling to anthologies and magazines last year than royalties.

So, where do you start? There are basically two ways to go about it. Write a story and then look for a market that it fits, or find a market that looks interesting and write a story to submit to it. Either way can work. In fact, sometimes writing a piece for a specific market can break up a pesky Writer's Block.

Once you have decided you are ready to write short, there are several wonderful resources to find markets. My personal favorite is, because it is free and open to everyone. There are also several excellent Facebook groups with specific focus that have been helpful. These require that you be added to the closed group, but I don't believe anyone is ever turned down. They start with OPEN CALL: and then the specifics. Search for OPEN CALL: and you should get the entire list. There are groups for Horror; Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Pulp; and Crime, Mystery, Suspense for sure. There may be others, but I haven't had call to join them yet. :)

At the next level, Duotrope is considered a must-have tool by many in the industry, but it is not free. On the other hand, it provides a Submission Tracker, and many analytics that aren't available on the other sites mentioned.

Finally, there is the old standby Writer's Market which has now brought in an online component. If you still like the doorstop paper version, you can get it--or you can get it with a year's access to the online version too--or, it looks like, you can now just register online for a year on the website. So many choices!

Spend some time with these market lists, play with words a bit. Short fiction, as I said, can hone your longer pieces, as you learn to write tight description and compelling characters that must grab the reader's attention on the first page. It can supplement your income and start spreading your name around. If people read one of your stories in an anthology, and like it, that can help them decide to give more of your work a try.

And if you need a place to start, try writing something for our Steampunk anthology Avast Ye Airships!

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