Breathe. Write. Breathe. - 18 Energizing practices to spark your writing and free your voice by Lisa Tener

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18 Energizing Practices to Spark Your Writing & Free Your Voice

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“How Should I Publish My Short Stories?”

In my most recent post, I answered a soon-to-be-published author’s questions about distribution for a traditionally published book; today, I answer their second question: “How should I publish my short stories?”

book coach Lisa Tener

So, short stories are not in my purview, but I know enough to provide some guidance to this writer. My goal was to ascertain enough information from the author to provide general direction and offer several appealing options to him.

In my mind, I hoped to ascertain whether this author likely had a shot at getting a book deal for the short stories (i.e., fantastic writing and a significant platform required) or whether the author needs to improve the writing and/or needs to grow their following/platform. Also, what is the best avenue for this writing given their current platform, willingness to do further work and other factors?

Questions to Discern the Best Publishing Path for Your Stories

I asked the author some questions:

  • What is your current reach/platform/following?
  • Are you willing to hire an editor and/or writing/publishing coach?
  • What are your goals (a book? or reaching people in any possible way, such as magazines, subscription service, books, ebooks, etc.?)
  • Are any of the short stories published online or in magazines or journals?

I did not hear back about reach/following, so I assume it’s small. Most likely, this author will need to self-publish (not a bad option at all), but they could work with an editor and publishing coach to see if they can publish individual stories first and start to grow their readership before a book comes out.

I also spelled out a variety of options for this author.

How to Publish Short Stories

Option 1: Submit Your Stories to Magazines and Online Magazine-Type Websites

You can Google “Where to submit short stories?” to get some excellent lists, but note that many will start with the highest tier options, which are extremely difficult to crack! You may want to narrow down the search by adding additional keywords to your search.

I also asked my colleague Jane Friedman about this, and she had some excellent resources to suggest:

  • Lit Mag News (a newsletter by Becky Tuch at Substack – excellent in pointing out opportunities)”
  • Chill Subs, a great database of lit mags and more.”

I recommend working with an editor to make your writing as compelling as possible. You may even want to edit the story based on where you are submitting it so that you appeal to the particular audience and orientation of that publication. Also, make sure you follow their submission guidelines!

Option 2: Enter Short Story Contests!

Again, use an experienced short story editor to help you thoroughly polish your story. You may also want to gather a few beta readers to provide feedback. Then, research short story contests (again, an easy Google Search) and enter any contests that seem like a good fit. Make sure your research includes reading submission requirements, judging criteria (if published), past winners, etc. This will help you be more effective and efficient in your efforts.

Jane also recommended this strategy; she suggested Literistic, a monthly newsletter for information on contests, fellowships, and more.

Option 3: Join a Site for Authors to Offer Subscriptions to Readers

I remembered Jane Friedman sharing information about subscription services, so I initially contacted her about this post. She suggested Patreon as a subscription service for short stories and Ream for longer fiction.

Option 4: Publish Your Short Stories in a Book

Unless you have a big platform, a fresh voice, and exceptionally high-quality writing, you will likely need to self-publish. That’s not a bad thing at all! There are many advantages to indie publishing, including a significantly higher profit per book sold, faster time to market, maintaining complete artistic control, the ability to innovate, and more.

My one piece of advice here is: don’t skimp on support. The better your editor, the more skilled your designer, the more knowledgeable the people you hire to publish the book and help you choose categories on Amazon, as well as help you with the back cover copy and your Amazon book description, the more likely that your book will be recommended by others, reach more readers and help you realize your vision and goals.

Additional Resources:

Duotrope has been around since 2005, and for $5 / month or $50/ year, you can search their extensive database of current fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and visual art publishers and agents. They have a calendar of upcoming deadlines and a personal submission tracker, and they collect data on publishers and agents, which are available to subscribers.  

A Personal Note

Earlier this year, I wrote a short story. I think that’s my first short story since ninth grade!

I felt pretty excited about it, but I’ve searched my journals and cannot find the first draft anywhere! Too many journals, perhaps. Now that the aspiring short-story writer has inspired me to do all this research, I’m committing to making another attempt at finding that story! After I type in and format all the poems that have been coming through, that is.

Lisa Tener

Lisa Tener is an award-winning book writing coach who assists writers in all aspects of the writing process—from writing a book proposal and getting published to finding one’s creative voice. Her clients have appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, CBS Early Show, The Montel Williams Show, CNN, Fox News, New Morning and much more. They blog on sites like The Huffington Post, Psychology Today and WebMD.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Frances Elizabeth Woods says

    I completed options 1 and 2. After this I had several stories to collect into a book (option 4). This way they were all together in one place. I knew they were quite good as they had all done well in competitions and in magazines. I self-published and held a launch party at a local arts centre. This coincided with a Picasso exhibition at the centre, so I called it ‘Picasso and Prosecco’. As well as reading from my book, and having an evening of fun with friends, I organised a raffle and sent funds to the Open University to help other students. I then went on to study for my Master of Arts in Creative Writing with the Open University. Next year is the 40th anniversary of a journey I made through the French canals and Mediterranean. I am planning to gather together some of the stories about this, that I produced when studying the MA. I shall self-publish these in 2024.

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