So, you’ve written a story…
You’ve polished it, you’ve let someone else read it, you’ve listened to that person’s comments and polished it some more, and finally, after wiping the sweat from your brow, you’ve printed out the final draft. Now, only one question remains, and it’s a biggie:
Where the heck do you send this thing?
I don’t know about you, but for me, one of the biggest frustrations of being a writer is simply not knowing where to send my work. Whether it’s a flash-length piece, a short story, a poem, a non-fiction essay or a novel, I want to give my writing the best possible chance of getting published. To do that, I need to know what publishers are out there, and what types of material they’re currently accepting. Lucky for me (and you, if you’re a writer, too), there’s a super-cool, FREE site that can give us all of that info (and much, much more) in just a few clicks:
There are many free writer’s market listings on the Internet – most are hopelessly outdated, some no longer functional. Duotrope is the exact opposite: a continually-updated, constantly evolving and extensive database with an easy-to-use search tool that can help you find the best home for your work, no matter what you write. They track response times and acceptance rates, and even let you organize your search results according to what matters most to you (highest pay rate, highest acceptance rate, etc.). It is a beautiful, well-organized site that currently lists 4,527 markets for fiction, non-fiction and poetry.
The only other reputable writer’s market listing I know of is called (prepared to be shocked) Writer’s Market. They release new print books each year, their titles ranging from the standard, all-in-one Writer’s Market, to other, more specialized books for people specifically interested in children’s writing, short stories, novels, poetry, etc. These are great books packed with useful info, including examples of good and bad query letters, contest listings and tips on the writing process. Only trouble is, they’re kind of expensive. For those like myself, who are perpetually cash-strapped, a more affordable option would be to check if your local library has the latest editions of these books in stock (many libraries do).
The website WritersMarket.com is another option. An online extension of the books, this site lists many more markets than can fit in the standard 1,000+ pages of the print edition of Writer’s Market. The website should also (theoretically, at least) be more up-to-date. However, WritersMarket.com, like its paperback companions, is not free. They do offer a seven-day money back guarantee, though, so I guess you could take it for a trial run and see if you like it – if not, refund time!
There’s only one thing you need to be careful about, and this goes for all of the books and sites mentioned above: you must always, ALWAYS, check the home website of whatever publisher/magazine/agent you’re submitting to, BEFORE you submit. DO NOT rely solely on the information you find on Duotrope or in Writer’s Market. These databases are starting points only. In the publishing industry, things can change quickly, and information gets outdated faster than you can snap your fingers. The magazine you’re submitting to might have hired a new editor since the database was last updated. The publisher you’re eyeing for your new fantasy novel might have just stopped accepting fiction. Don’t put the wrong name on that envelope. Don’t send your sci-fi story to a non-fiction magazine. Do your homework.
If you didn’t know where to start, hopefully now you do. So, what are you waiting for? 🙂