Written by A Guest Author

A Short Course in Finding the Right Publication for Short Fiction

By DL Shirey

Short prose can offer big challenges. Those who haven’t tried writing microfiction sometimes balk at the craft, often thinking it’s no big deal to dash off a couple hundred words. Yet, the hardest part may not be composing a complete, engaging story using minimal word count. Finding a publisher for your 50-word story, drabble or flash can also be difficult.

Let’s say you write a concise masterpiece, 300 words long. All the things that make it a complete story are there: a beginning, middle and end, well-drawn characters and solid plot. After all that hard work the story deserves to appear before the eyes of adoring readers. So the next step is to get your pocket-size opus in front of the right editor and publication.

If you use a submission manager like Duotrope or The Submission Grinder, you peruse their many listings and weed through a jillion journals until you find a group of candidates. Or you might check writer resources like Authors Publish, NewPages, or Submittable to see if there are any journals that recently opened submissions or have fast-approaching deadlines.

All these websites should be part of a writer’s toolbox, but your final decision on submitting work should rest with the publication itself. Study the submission guidelines, then read an issue or two. Does your story fit the journal’s genre preferences, audience and editorial style? Is your manuscript formatted according to their specifications? Is it within their word count?

Ahh, word count: such an easy thing to do, but sometimes tricky to deduce.

There are many calls for flash fiction but, depending on the editor, the preferred story length could land anywhere up to 1,500 words. There’s a good chance your 300-word story may fall short of a publisher’s parameters.

Enter The Short List.

As someone who loves writing microfiction, I was always searching for journals that accepted tiny tales. It was tough to find enough of them, so I didn’t badger the same editors repeatedly. Whenever I’d stumble on a site that had strict limits on smaller word counts, I would add it to my spreadsheet. As the list grew, members of my writing group asked me to share, and The Short List was born.

The list is categorized by word count: 50, 100, 300, etcetera, with links directly to each publication’s submission guidelines. Over the past five years, categories have expanded to include journals and websites accepting prose up to 3,000 words. New additions are highlighted every month and defunct journals are relegated to a final resting place. For the departed, the links may be gone but their titles remain in tribute to all the writers published.

Journals come and go. Submission managers, writer resources and Twitter’s #WritingCommunity are invaluable ways to keep abreast of publication opportunities. The ones fit for those writing with an economy of words will find a home on The Short List.

Think I’ll go there now to find the perfect publisher for this 494-word article.


Bio: DL Shirey is a short story writer from Portland, Oregon. He frequently strays toward the truth and his nonfiction pieces have been published in Gravel, Citron Review and Wraparound South. You can find more of his writing at www.dlshirey.com and @dlshirey on Twitter.

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