I like variety—so I love travelling, exploring and writing fiction and non-fiction on a daily basis.
This article details some of the genres of short stories and places where you might publish yours, but first let's have look at what it is that is actually considered a short story and how to best prepare for submitting yours for a publication.
Definition of a Short Story
So what are short stories and why should you write them? Well, you can trace the origins of the short story from the oral storytelling traditions that predates even the written word. There are many contradictory definitions of a short story, but for this article, I will go with the one that will probably be nearer to most editors definitions.
A general dictionary definition is: A story with a fully developed theme, but significantly shorter and less elaborate than a novel.
I know, that definition doesn't give much away.
And the opinion to the length of a short story also differs widely. The most common length for short stories generally discussed can range anywhere from 1500 to 30,000 words. Anything before that range is still a short story, but it is often referred to as ‘flash fiction’.
The Work of Writing
Write, write and write again. To sell short stories, you obviously must write short stories and lots of them. This will do two things: One, improve your short story writing and two, allow you to practice technique so that you are consistently improving and therefore write better stories as you progress.
Also if you write, write and write again, you will build a back list of short stories that you can submit to paying markets.
Check Before Submission
Before you submit your stories, have them proofread by someone you trust for any obvious typos and grammatical mistakes.
If you don't have anyone to trust to look at your work, you can find professional proof readers online at places such as Fiverr or Upwork, depending on your budget.
While You Wait To Hear Back From Publications
Don't just write one short story and send it out and wait. You first story is unlikely to be your best, but it could be, and if you believe it to be a good story then of course send it out to prospective publishers, but don’t sit on your hands waiting for a response, it may be a while coming… so as soon as you have sent it out into the world, start your next story.
Write the best stories you can. This may seem obvious, but be sure that your work is the best it can be, and once it is ready don't hesitate to send out into the world. Don't fall into the trap of endlessly ‘improving’ your story here and there by substituting a semicolon for a comma. If you are at that stage, you are probably making excuses not to send it out into the world.
You might be fearful, but don't be.
Where Can You Submit Your Stories To
Whatever genre you decide to write in you will find willing markets for your short stories.
Here are some of the different genre markets for magazines (print and online) where you might find a home for your short stories.
Some of the top markets for short stories tend to be women's magazines. Although there has been some decline in these markets over the last few years, there are still a lot of women's magazines that publish short stories.
Some of the key things to remember with these particular markets are the main characters are often women. Also, stories concerning explicit sex or violence are likely to be rejected.
Stories that contain less than three or four characters tend to do better, as they're often easy to follow. Boy-meets-girl storylines, although may be seen as a little old-fashioned these days still do well in women's magazines.
Remember, these are just generalizations and every magazine will have their own particular style.
Some current Women’s magazines that feature short stories are: Woman’s Weekly, My Weekly, The People’s Friend, Take A Break Fiction Feast.
Mystery and Crime
Another massive and very trendy market for short stories. Not all these types of stories have to be whodunits, but they sometimes are and this type of story does remain popular.
Mystery and crime, hide a whole load of subgenres that you might like to explore such as espionage, hard-boiled detective stories, humorous, mysteries, light horror, domestic malice, police procedurals, private eye, thrillers, trial story, urban horror or, indeed, young adult fiction.
If your stories fall into any of these brackets, then you have plenty to go for.
Here are some current Mystery and Crime magazines that feature short stories: Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, PULP Literature, Mystery Weekly Magazine, Close to the Bone Magazine, Shotgun Honey.
Science fiction is sometimes referred to as speculative fiction or SF. This could include fantasy, hard science fiction, magic realism, paranormal horror, again, the subgenres under the SF umbrella are wide and varied.
Here are some science fiction magazines that feature short stories: Apex Magazine, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Strange Horizons, Clarkesworld Magazine, Daily Science Fiction.
Although there tends to be a lot of overlap and disagreement, literary stories tend to focus on character and or writing style as opposed to mainstream or other genres stories, which tend to focus on plot. This, of course, is a very broad definition and as with all the other markets discussed, each individual magazine will have its own ideas about what it wishes to publish.
Here are some magazines that feature literary short stories: The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The Threepenny Review, The Antioch Review, Barrelhouse.
If You Are Already Writing Short Stories...
Other markets include action-adventure, erotica, humour, romance, or western and all the subgenres of these. So there are plenty of markets to approach, whatever type of short stories you write.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 Jerry Cornelius