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  • Writer's pictureJennifer Peaslee

Publishing Your Short Story

As I write this post, I want to be clear: this blog is for sharing things I've learned about writing—some of those things I'm learning in real time. I have not been published; I sure would like to be! But you can't get published without putting your work out there, so that's the first step, right?


Except it's an overwhelming first step. There are so many lit mags out there, how do you narrow down your search? How do you keep track of where you submitted, and what you submitted, and when you submitted?


So, learn with me, because I'm in the process of trying to get a short story published. The painful, necessary process.


Use a submission tracker. You can make one manually, but there are websites that do this for free. My recommendation: The Submission Grinder. It's donation-supported and thorough, with up-to-date information about market activity.


Their search tool is intuitive and easy to use. The results can be sorted by Name, Pay, or Average Response Time, which is all fantastic information to know.


Rejection is a large part of being a writer, which means this is a numbers game, people. Until you find your home in the literary market, you need to be out there, submitting to a variety of places that fit your style. It will become overwhelming to keep track of.


Having a submission tracker makes the entire process easier.


Read before you submit. I know, basic advice, right? But surprisingly hard to follow if you're like me, and you just want to get this whole process over with. Yet there's really no point in submitting to a magazine if you haven't read at least one of their issues (preferably more).


This can be a hassle if there aren't any free issues or discounted sample issues. Unless I'm really interested in that publication, I tend not to submit to ones where I have to pay to read. (Which is too bad, because I would love to help financially support these magazines. They deserve it!)


Bonus: You are likely to find a lot of really interesting stories and poems in your search, which is awesome.


Do not pay to submit (unless...) I'm of the opinion that having to pay to submit is a scam. Don't do it. It's not worth it.


But there are exceptions!

  1. Tip Jars—optional payments that will not influence the publisher in any way but are a nice way to support the magazine with whatever amount you can afford.

  2. Feedback—some publishers offer feedback for a fee. If you can afford it, it's worth doing.

That's it. Two exceptions. I'll update this post if I think of any others.

So what have we learned? Something, I hope! I really do recommend checking out The Submission Grinder if you haven't already.



Otherwise, your desk will look like this.

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