How and Where to Publish Your Short Stories

By Ali Hale

One reader asks:

“What advice would you give to someone who has bags of passion and loves life and just happens to have lots of stories and would like to know how to publish or where to publish?”

I’m really glad this reader writes from the heart. A short story which is meaningful to you, which celebrates life and which is written with real spirit is much more likely to meet with success than a technically good story without meaning for the author.

If you’ve got a stack of short pieces that you’ve written for your own enjoyment and that of friends, consider sharing them with a wider audience. There are dozens of ways to do this, from entering writing competitions to submitting work to magazines to self-publishing, and I’ll discuss a few below.

Questions to ask before trying to publishing your story

Is your work a complete piece?

Even when you’re writing from real life experience (as the reader who asked the question above was), your story needs to be well-shaped, with a beginning, middle and end. There also needs to be some conflict – whether between two characters, or just in a character’s own mind – at the start of the story which is then resolved by the time the story concludes. Without this, your work will read as an anecdote – interesting, perhaps, but not suitable for publication as a story.

What genre does the story fit into?

Whether you’re aiming for publication in a magazine or journal, or whether you’re planning to self-publish your work, you need to have a clear idea what genre the story is. If you’ve written a science fiction piece, you’ll have little luck submitting it to a magazine of Westerns. And your sweet story about your cat is unlikely to please the readers of “Tales of the Undead”, however well-written it is.

Where to Publish Your Work

Either you need to find someone else – probably a magazine editor – who likes your story and wants to publish it, or you need to self-publish. You will probably reach a wider audience with the former method, and you may receive some welcome remuneration, but the latter option gives you total control over when and where your work appears.

Publications which accept short stories

There are hundreds of magazines, e-zines and websites where short stories are published, and some pay professional rates. One good place to start is the magazine shelves of your local newsagents. Are there any publications devoted to fiction?

For example, the UK has many magazines aimed at women such as “Take a Break”, “Woman’s Weekly” and “My Weekly” which publish a couple of short stories each week – and bring out a monthly collection of twenty or so stories. If your writing fits into this genre – commercial in style, with a sympathetic main character (usually a woman) and a positive ending – then they are definitely worth considering. I’ve found the blog Women’s stories: read, write, enjoy! invaluable for advice on this genre.

If you write science fiction, fantasy, horror or literary fiction, you’re unlikely to find magazines devoted to these on the shelves. Try searching online for small magazines which people subscribe to by mail-order: you may be able to order a back issue cheaply or free. Or look for e-zines which you can submit work to online.

Self-publishing your stories

You can publish your work for free on a website. One easy way is to set up a blog (try www.blogger.com) and post a new short story every week. There are lots of easy ways to create a full website too – try Google Page Creator (Link no longer active). You don’t need to be very “technical” and you certainly don’t need to be able to programme or understand terms like “HTML” and “FTP”.

If you are fairly web-savvy, though, you might choose to pay for a domain name and professional web hosting. I’d recommend this if you’re serious about your writing as it means you can use your site as a professional-looking showcase for your work.

The other option is to publish printed versions of your stories, to circulate around friends and family – and perhaps more widely. Traditional self-publishing in this way involved paying thousands of pounds for several hundred or thousand copies of your book: new “print-on-demand” technology, though, means that it’s cost-effective to print just a few copies of your book. A volume of your best short stories could make a lovely present – far more interesting and memorable than a box of chocolates.

I recommend Lulu, which I used to print a single copy of my first novel manuscript. It cost me £7 (about $14) for the whole book, including the postage: I’d have spent just as much on paper and ink if I’d printed it at home, and the result was a high-quality glossy-covered paperback.

Lulu’s site is simple to use, and takes you step-by-step through the process of uploading your work and choosing the format of your book.

Need to know more?

I’ve only touched on some of the issues about publishing short stories, so if there’s something you’d like to know more about, or anything I’ve not covered, please leave a comment here – or use the feedback form on the Contact page – and I will happily address it in a future article. And look out for upcoming articles covering revising your writing, formatting your manuscript correctly, markets for your work, entering short story competitions and more…

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45 Responses to “How and Where to Publish Your Short Stories”

  • Joshua

    What is “without no real meaning” mean?

  • nova

    Salam,

    I’m happy to be the first reader to say “Thank you”!

    It was really helpful, because I’m writing a short story now.But I’m

    not finished yet.I study English,That’s my major.But I’m trying to

    slow down a little bit coz I’m not that much if you understand me:)

    your name is Arabic,”Ali”.And you have a strong vocabulary,and your

    writing is perfect! Masha Allah.

    What was your story? and thank you for the great effort!

    Keep going

  • Nelson Jones

    This is a great idea for an article, and I think it would go greatly as part of a larger series. People writing things other than short stories could use advice on how to publish their work, too.

  • Ali

    Whoops! Thanks, Joshua — it means I rewrote that sentence and left a couple of words in that shouldn’t have been. Have fixed the typo now.

    Cheers,

    Ali

  • Hal

    I wondered who would catch this first. As one who writes daily writing tips, you must have to proof read to the max, else someone like me will kid you about it.

    Not long ago I also caught a reference to a person where you used “that” instead of “who.” I constantly have to correct myself with that particular error.

    I look forward every day to reading these tips. It is so easy to forget basic grammar, and this is a great help.

  • Mike Bennett

    Hello
    This is a response to the person who wanted to know how and where to publish short stories. I too had a few short stories – and a novel – that I wanted to publish but didn’t know where, or how to go about it.

    I discovered podcasting. I bought myself a microphone and recorded first the novel, then the stories as mp3 files. These became my on-line ‘podcasts’.

    The podcast of the novel, ‘One Among the Sleepless’ has been a worldwide success, with over 100,000 downloads to date. And the short story collection, ‘Hall of Mirrors’ has been in the U.S. iTunes literature charts since its release in August of last year and is still going strong.

    All podcasting requires is a computer, a microphone and a recording software program like Audacity, which is easy to use and is free to download.

    In effect, what you are doing is making a serialized audiobook of your work and giving it away to the world for free. Some may ask ‘why?’. Well, if you want your work to find a global audience, why not? And if you want to have a crack at landing that elusive big publishing deal, this link ( http://snurl.com/24dek ) will take you to the a Washington Post article on the recent major publishing deals of podcast authors Scott Sigler and J.C. Hutchins.

    My website link provided here is to my short story collection at podiobooks.com, an online podcast bookshop which may take your book if you can make it meet their tech criteria. Hosting with podiobooks is free. Also check out PodShow.com and PodShow.co.uk for other free hosting options for your podcast.

    Wishing you the best of luck
    Mike Bennett

  • Mike Bennett

    I notice my link hasn’t appeared. I re-paste it here:

    http://podiobooks.com/title/hall-of-mirrors

    Cheers
    Mike

    p.s. Check out my whole podcast world here:

    http://www.oneamongthesleepless.com/

  • The Vintage Reader

    “If you write science fiction, fantasy, horror or literary fiction, you’re unlikely to find magazines devoted to these on the shelves.”

    How about Isaac Asimov’s and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction? I often see these two magazines, which have been around for decades and have published short stories by most of the stars of the SF universe at one time or another, at the bookstore, the newsstand, and even occasionally at the grocery store.

    Many of the well-known literary fiction journals are usually available at Barnes & Noble and Borders, and also in most academic libraries. But people who are writing for that market already know that. 🙂

  • Youssef Kabalan Salameh

    Dir Sir,
    My name is Youssef Kabalan Slaameh,I live in Nabay el-metn.Lebanon.
    Anyway,I Have written many short stories in Arabic,and I would like to share them with you.So,may you do me a favor in helping me to get them published,thanking you very much for your cooperation,and I hope to receive your reply as soon as possible.

  • Nathan Pilcher

    I have 50 short stories ready to go. They are childrens fiction stories and are suitable from between 4yrs – 16yrs.

    Obviously I am looking to publish these stories and am hoping that you can stear me in the right direction.

    I can also write books to order, such as personalised books for children, as well as stories along the lines of famous five.

    Look forward to hearing from you soon.

    Nathaniel

  • jasmin

    read it now 🙂 and put you comments .

  • tanya lyles

    I have recently found comfort in writing. I seem to write better if I focus my writings in letter form and to a known person. I am new at this writing though I hope to have more to say in the near future.
    “Things to remember others to painful to forget”.
    Tanya Lyles

  • Val Crothers

    I have written 36 Australian children stories and would like some information on where to publish them. Your assistance with information would be appreciated.

    Val Crothers

  • Kim Wilson

    I have a load of short stories per a mainstream audience. Right now I’m selecting mags to send them to. Got any online submission information for me. Visit my web, and read. Thank you. OOWEE

  • Esther DeTray

    I’m looking for a magazine or place to publish short stories for children that my son writes based on his experiences. Written in first person.

  • Lerois FOTSO

    Dear Madam/Sir,

    I’ve written a collection of twelve short stories that I’d like to get published, but I don’t know publishers’ addresses or email addresses. Could you direct me to some of any nationality? I’d prefer English, Nigerian, Cameroonian, American. I don’t live in the UK.

    Thanks in advance

  • brandon stokes

    i have a question not a comment. i have short stories about a detective and i am looking for a magazine that might would pay to publish them in their magazine. i have quite a few and i am really wanting to get them out ther for others to read. does anyone know of any that might would publish them? any help would be great. thank you for your time.

  • depender

    i have written a horror story name ‘shikozu’

  • Roses ROX!

    I Have writin stories since 3rd grade, and since then, they have built up to,i don’t know, a BUNCH! I NEED These Published! I Left one of my stories above! Please don’t let my stories go unknown! I have LARGE dreams! My name is Marissa, and I hope You will help me! Thank you Sooooooo much!
    -Marissa:)

  • JAN

    Suggestion. Get this book from your library, “Best American Short Stories of 2009” or else it’s called (Best Short Stories of 2009). In the very back of the book is a list of current magazines that publish short stories, including their addresses. You can find their writers guidelines by googling their name. Good luck and keep trying.

  • Kaye

    Am I really the only person who has read this article and is not so self-obsessed that I can think beyond my desperate need to get famous? Except ‘nova’, no one else has said much beyond “I have written something good, please help me get published.” And that doesn’t make sense to me because the article explains pretty clearly how to go and get yourself published; if it implied anywhere that the writer plans to get you published.

    Ah, well. Anyway…

    Thank you, Ali, for an article that answers the reader’s question in a manner easy enough for beginners to get started. Like ‘nova’, I’m pleased to thank you. 🙂

  • Patricia

    I have written out my life story. I’m now wondering what to do. It has a beginning, middle, and an end.

  • Sadjad

    I used to write poems and stories in English. but, actually, they are too short- the stories I mean. I don’t know where to publish them.
    Would you possibly let me know about that?
    thank you for responding me

  • Ian Paulyn

    I am putting together a collection of short stories written by new, undiscovered authors. My idea is to put around 10 or so stories together in a kindle release. Any revenue would be shared equally. I am able to get the cover designed for free through my contacts. I think this will be a lot of fun. If anyone is interested, then please send your manuscripts to ianpaulyn att btinternet dott com (written like this to stop spammers). I cannot guarantee that your story will be included, as only the best will be chosen. With our collective efforts, it may be easier to get the book the exposure it will need for sales. By sending your manuscript to my e-mail (in whichever format is easier for you), you are confirming that you do own the copyright of the work. I will get the winning manuscripts proofread and edited, although I will keep the edits down to a bare minimum – I want the author to feel that what they have written will stay in the form they envisaged. Look forward to receiving your texts. I have had a some good contributions so far, but need a few more before I can considering publishing.

    A little about myself

    I currently work for an independent publishers, although this project is my pet idea to do in my own time. During my time there, I have worked as a project manager on many different series. I have had experience in the production, sales and reprographics departments. I have also edited, proofread and designed many different titles. To get an idea of the number of titles I have worked on, if you search for my name in quotes, “Ian Paulyn”, in amazon.co.uk you will see a good selection. The eagle-eyed amongst you will notice that the majority of these books are children’s books, but I feel the skills I have acquired over the last 15 years will enable me to handle this project successfully.

  • Rachel Nichols

    I already have a blogsite for writing fiction. Next, I may try my own website. Thank you for the advice!

  • Jeffrey Rothman

    I’m looking for a book on magazines similar to the Writer’s Market for book publishers. Any ideas?
    Thanks,

    Jeff Rothman

  • Rachel Nichols

    I am now publishing a novel on a blogsite, one chapter a week. The name of the website is voicesblovel.blogspot.com.

  • Jeche Williams

    Well, this is a first for me. I have a whole bunch of stories that I have written but, I haven’t sent any in. I just keep them in a folder under my nightstand. The reason That I haven’t sent them in is because I don’t know where to send them and because the characters in my stories are from certain television shows. A few are from my own mind and were meant for older (Much older) teenagers. These I would love to send in but their graphic with foul language, violence and sex. (Not meant for the kiddies). I’ve been working on one story now for over a year and I haven’t finished it yet because I’m enjoying it a lot. It’s called The Case Of The Missing Dodge Viper. I’m somewhere in the middle of finishing it, but I don’t know how to because it’s getting really good. Could you give some tips on how to finish it up and where to send it when I’m done that doesn’t cost a whole bunch of money because I’m looking for work and having no luck. Thank you for your time.

  • Jamie

    This was helpful, but I have a quick question about self-publishing through blogging, etc: How do you keep other people from stealing/copying the work you post? Not to seem too sure in any work I would post, but it’s just a concern of mine

  • dave roffe

    I have a story I’d like to be considerd for publication. However, the story is adult in theme – though not pornographic -with swearing included. I’d be very grateful if anyone could give my any advice on where I could look with regard to publication through any format. Thank you.

  • Dorothy Waugh

    I have several short stories of the christian genre. Is there a magazine available for me to get in touch with?

  • Dipayan Dutta

    If its a short story you are writing…then please stick to the following:
    1) be precise, clear and write to the point
    2) write tersely, dont try to give it the look of a boring manuscript.
    3) the starting lines are the most important, do try to keep them a bit catchy to grasp the reader’s attention all at once.

  • Angie West

    Ten Publishers That Accept Short Stories

    To the best of my knowledge, none of the publishers listed here charge any fees to the author. All publishers listed below welcome both unagented and agented submissions. Hope this helps!

    1. Carina Press 15,000 word minimum and division of Harlequin, they are looking to acquire all genre’s, including steam punk, horror, and science fiction. This publisher also accepts previously published work.

    2. Belle Books See the submissions page. They publish warm-hearted chick lit with a Southern theme. They say word count is flexible and they are currently looking for short fiction for their Mossy Creek Series, as well as short memoir type works for anthologies. It looks like they pay an advance.

    3. Whiskey Creek Press Torrid Erotic romance. Right now they are especially interested in seeing: Science fiction erotic romance, paranormal erotic, and fantasy erotic romance.

    4. Harlequin Historical Undone Historical romance

    5. Harlequin Nocturne Cravings Paranormal romance

    6. Cobblestone-Press Romance, erotica accepted. They pay royalties monthly, have excellent editors, a full art department, and have a very good contract.

    7. Black Lyon Publishing Novella length’s of 20,000 to 40,000 words accepted in contemporary, paranormal, and inspirational romance. The guidelines for novella submissions are listed at the very bottom of the subs page on their website. They especially love holiday themes.

    8. Shortfire Press As far as I can tell, multiple genre’s accepted and they seem to be well-respected. 2,500 word minimum.

    9. Changeling Press 10,000 words and up, this publisher is looking for erotic romance of all kinds, including dark fantasy and paranormal.

    10. Ellora’s Cave Romance, erotic romance, and romance with elements of fantasy/science fiction. Multiple lengths accepted.

  • Rachel Nichols

    The last blovel was edited for reasons I cannot give here. The next one is going to have shorter chapters and average about four posts or chapters a week. Ideally each chapter will have between 500 and 1000 characters and there will be 40 chapters–all in the first person.

  • Dwayne Wojtowicz

    I live in the United States and I have written a few short stories that I would like to get published. However, I am having a hard time finding magazines that would allow me to submit stories and get paid for them. Do you have any ideas or suggestions?

    Thanks for all of your help.

  • Ruben

    Hello, I have a lot of ideas for stories, but I realy have no idea of how to write them. Could you give me a hint?

  • JEANETTE GONZALEZ

    My daughter is 9 years old. She loves to read but more than anything.She’s also a great writter. She was so bored of reading other stories so she started writting in journal her own stories. She reads to her friends at school. They enjoy her stories,that they cant wait for the next one. They actually motivate her too. She also writes songs to her friends, she’s brite and very talented with a great imagination. I would love to share her stories to everyone but i dont know how please help me get her stories publish.

  • Susie Trundy

    I wrote a story many years ago about a true life experience of getting lost for 3 days in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range while on a deer hunting trip with my father and family (I was a senior in high school at the time). I tried to get the interest of a TV network for a made for TV movie, but they won’t consider any material without representation of an agent or attorney, which I didn’t have. All the publishing companies wanted much more money than I have to print, market, etc. I have received great feedback from friends, family, even strangers that have read it and have encouraged me to seek publication, but I don’t know where to start. Can you help?

  • Hannah

    I’m fourteen years old, and i LOVE writing! I’ve written many short stories, mostly about horseback riding. But I’m not really sure where to get them published. Any advice you have would be great!

  • Laura

    I’m currently exploring writing crime stories. The word count comes somewhere between a short story and a full novel and I don’t know where to get these published as most magazines want what I would call extracts, not the full thing.

  • Mirwaisuddin

    First of all, I thank you very much for your help. I have got a question. Would it be possible to send a real story (tragic) to somebody who can then make it a small book? If so, to whom should I send the story to publish for free? In case it turns out to be satisfactory, I wouldn’t mind if the publisher makes copies and sell them. What I want would be to receive a copy myself from the publisher. Please guide me what to do about this for it is gonna be a real and tragic real love story in Afghanistan.
    I thank you very much again.
    Mirwais

  • wiliiejames j. forks

    I write short sci-fi’s stories and mini stories too. I edit my own work and the artist work for the cover. My books are file-books and it easy to download after purchase and it saves money on binding and shipping cost. What make my work great is the pages. short stories such as Tornado Riders are 16 to 35 pages long no less no more. My mini stories such as My Yellow Rose are 5 to 15 pages long no less no more. And they’re complete for easy reading while on break, on the way home from work, kids with short tention span, and those who have no time in this world of fast pase and speed. I’ve been perfecting this style of entertainment for 35years. I’m given it a try today.

  • Brandon

    I am 17 years old and I have finished writing my story. My story is about a zombie outbreak and the characters in my story are my friends. The town names and stores are all real in my story as well. So i posted my story on Facebook, which does have chapters although very short chapters, and I have gotten a lot of compliments from all of my friends (not just the ones in my story). I have even gotten some of my friends to tell me that I should publish my story. I would really like to publish my writing, its just, I don’t know where to do that. I’ve been searching online for places to self publish, but I don’t know where to go or even do. Can I get some help on this?

  • Andrea

    Hi

    What a brilliant site!

    I have blog where I`ve been writing down my dreams for a while now, and people have encouraged me to get it publiced or to use it in some way. They are most short novel like scribbles, but Im just wondering how i could use something like that and who I should contact?

    A draft:
    “..Im being chased by a hairy monster as big as three trucks and as tall as a pine tree. Its well camuflaged in the woods. Im sprinting trough the forest in superspeed and as Im running I get aware of that Im dreaming. I reach the end of the dark forest, and I make up a big, colourful blanket to trap the monster in. It starts wrapping up the forest from the ground but I get captured as well and the monster is closing up on me. I quickly make up a pair of scissors in my left pocet and cut myself out…”

    Thanks for any responses and help!

    Andrea

  • Tony Held

    I too publish via Lulu.com I also offer PDF’s for sale direct from my website. I’m starting with short stories and working up to books. Self-publishing … arribba! 🙂

    Word of warning though: *always* proofread, proofread, and proofread some more before you publish. And make sure to highlight your text and spread it out via the extreme right justification tab in your word processor. It will look crisp and professional that way.

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