Charles Daly

Storyteller

How to Publish a Short Story — My Duotrope Criteria


The number one question I get from writers who are just starting to show their work is ‘how do I find places to publish short stories?’ The internet makes it easy. First, set up an account on Duotrope if you don’t have one. There is a small fee, but it’s well worth it if you’re serious about getting your stories or poems out in the world. Then narrow your search to fit the piece you’re submitting. 
 
Being picky not only helps me find the right market for my words, but also gives me the feeling that I’m choosing them and not the other way around. That attitude has seen me through hundreds of rejections and made the ‘yeses’ that much more meaningful. Here are the settings I use on Duotrope’s fiction search:
 
Submission Type: 
I choose electronic. If a publisher doesn’t have a way to receive submissions electronically in 2015, we’re going to have bigger problems down the road. Mailing manuscripts from overseas is expensive, and I don’t like waiting on the mail. 
 
Submission Details: 
Tick the box that says ‘allows simultaneous submissions.’ The only exception would be if a journal can get back to you within a week. For a journal to insist that they be the only ones considering your work is a bit like the person you met the other night expecting an exclusive relationship from the time you start texting. Even if they say they don’t accept simultaneous submissions, do them anyway. The odds of getting accepted to two places at once are tiny. 
 
Sort By: 
I do ‘response time’ because I’m impatient. If you need an ego boost try ‘acceptance ratio.’
 
Medium: 
Again, I usually chose electronic. I don’t know about you, but I want people to read me and share me. The days of Xeroxing short stories are over, not that I’m old enough to remember them. 
 
Be a good Duotrope user, track your submissions and report your responses. This helps make their data and searches more accurate.

Ultimately, the goal is to get out of the slush pile. When you do start finding homes for your work, stop having one night stands and start building relationships with editors. Eventually, you’ll be able to bypass the whole process and you’ll make a few friends while you’re at it. Remember, they want to like you. 


Best of luck. 

3 Comments

  1. Great advice- thanks man

  2. This was particularly helpful, since I write short stories, and from what i’ve seen so far most agents want books.

  3. Charlie

    March 13, 2016 at 1:15 pm

    Thanks for commenting, Ken & Kit. Glad you got something out of this one.

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