Recently I realized I had submitted a short story to two places. One place was a magazine that pays per word, the other was an anthology that offered no remuneration, but was being published by a well-respected professional group.
Quite often publishers prefer that you not make simultaneous submissions, although some don’t care. Most will want a story to be new and previously unpublished, but again, some don’t care.
Fortunately, this particular tale was not what the anthology was looking for–no money was involved there and I try to concentrate on submitting my work to paying gigs as often as possible.
Thus, I have begun to keep a list of what short story was submitted to what magazine or anthology. If it is rejected with comments, I consider the remarks, address them if they are valid and immediately submit it elsewhere. The fact is, rejection can be a positive thing.
Of course, I have enough rejections to wallpaper an outhouse. Not everyone will love your work. You have to keep trying, but eventually you will sell a story.
When I first began this journey I didn’t understand how specifically you have to tailor your submissions when it comes to literary magazines, contests, and anthologies.
When you have a great story that you believe in, you must find the venue that might be interested in your sort of work. This means you must buy magazines, read them, and write to those standards.
Go to the publisher’s website and find out what their submission guidelines are and FOLLOW THEM. (Yes, they apply to EVERYONE, no matter how famous, even you.) If you skip this step, you can wait up to a year to hear that your ms has been rejected, and they most likely won’t tell you why.
Formatting your manuscript is crucial. If you are unsure how that works, see my blogpost of July 24, 2015, How to Format Your Manuscript for Submission.
It’s not worth a publisher’s time to teach you how to be a writer–you have to learn that on your own.
A sci-fi magazine like Analog Science Fiction and Fact will not be interested in fantasy from an unknown author. If you read Analog, you can see they mostly publish hard, technology driven sci-fi. If they publish a fantasy piece at all, it will be by one of their regular contributors, and will likely have been solicited by them for a particular feature.
Analog’s Submission page clearly says: “Basically, we publish science fiction stories. That is, stories in which some aspect of future science or technology is so integral to the plot that, if that aspect were removed, the story would collapse. Try to picture Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein without the science and you’ll see what I mean. No story!
The science can be physical, sociological, psychological. The technology can be anything from electronic engineering to biogenetic engineering. But the stories must be strong and realistic, with believable people (who needn’t be human) doing believable things–no matter how fantastic the background might be.”
You have been warned. They want science, not magic.
Therefore, I never submit to this magazine as I don’t write hard science fiction. I don’t enjoy the kind of work they publish, and that is an important clue: If you don’t read what they publish, you likely can’t write it to their standards.
An excellent article that addresses that well is “What Editors Want; A Must-Read for Writers Submitting to Literary Magazines.”
Because I have so many short pieces floating around in the ether, I now keep a list, organized like this:
Remember, only submit your best work. If you have a well-written piece that reads smoothly when read aloud and is rejected for whatever reason, find a different magazine, contest, or anthology to submit it to. Chances are it simply didn’t resonate with the editor at that place, and who knows–it may be exactly what the next place is looking for.
If you are stumped for places to send your work, there are several sites that offer classified ads calling for submissions:
If you are new to this, a good place to start is the Lascaux Review. This is a literary magazine, but they have great contests, and their rules are fairly relaxed:
The Lascaux Prize in Flash Fiction http://lascauxreview.com/contests
The Lascaux Prize in Flash Fiction is presently open for submissions. Stories may be previously published or unpublished, and simultaneous submissions are accepted. Winner receives $1,000, a bronze medallion, and publication in The Lascaux Review. The winner and all finalists will be published in The 2017 Lascaux Prize Anthology.