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”

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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?

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Dorothy Waugh

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

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