One of the questions I’m commonly asked is how I found an agent, a publisher, or a venue for a short story. Today’s post is meant to share some of the resources I’ve found to be useful, all of them free.
Short story sites
For short stories, I use the Submission Grinder. You set the search terms for genre, length, and several other factors, including the minimum payment you’re willing to accept. For some reason, if you just want to be paid, even if it’s not much, you enter 0 in that slot rather than leaving it blank. If you want more, of course you enter that number. You can also check whether the site accepts simultaneous submissions or reprints.
The results tell you what sites are open and provide a link to the magazine’s submission guidelines.
You can also use it to keep track of your submissions which is useful if you have more than two or three going. Additionally, it reports the rejections and acceptances that members report to it, so you can see how quickly a magazine is reading subs.
A good site for finding an agent is Query Tracker. You can search for agents who are open to submissions in your genre and click to learn how much they want submitted and in what form. It then allows you to track your queries and compare how long you’ve waited with what other writers have experienced with that agent.
Never pay an agent. They earn their living by selling your work and taking a cut of what you make, usually 15%.
I’m setting aside the question of self-publishing because that’s a whole different topic. Here I’ll talk about trade publishing.
If you have an agent, they will be choosing which publishers to submit to. They may consult with you. They may value publishers you suggest, but by and large, they’re the experts. That’s one reason they take a cut of whatever you make.
Without an agent, you have to find suitable and honest publishers on your own.
Absolute Write has a Bewares and Background Checks section you can comb through for good places.
Other threads can be helpful too. I found Inspired Quill when one of their authors recommended them on a thread where people were chatting about where they’d submitted. This is a good site for information and advice about writing in general. It can also provide you with moral support from other writers going through the same trials you are.
Some genre organizations also supply lists of approved publishers. I write YA, so I’ve looked at a list from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America also maintains an approved list.
Writer Beware is a site maintained by Victoria Strauss that warns writers away from known scam sites.
Occasionally, someone posts about publishers accepting unagented manuscripts. Here’s a sample list. I haven’t used it so I can’t vouch for it.
What I’d say is that when you’re ready to submit, there are plenty of resources out there for you to use. Check them out and see what you find. If you have sites to recommend, share them in the comments.
The Wind Reader by Dorothy A. Winsor (Inspired Quill, 2018)
Marooned in a city far from home, Doniver struggles to earn enough to live without selling his soul. Unfortunately someone wants him dead. He’ll need all his courage—and glib tongue—to survive.
Available in ppb and ebook. Ebook only $3.99.