As promised, here is another excerpt from my forthcoming second edition of Publishing & Marketing Realities for the Emerging Author:
Getting the Most Out of Duotrope
Especially now that it’s no longer free, take some time to get the most out of Duotrope by doing your research and being organized.
Although they have their handy dandy submission tracker, which is invaluable, keep another record for yourself that’s more accessible. I use a Moleskine journal. We writers love our fancy journals, so use one to track your own submissions.
Save the first page of the journal for your Dream Lists, explained shortly. Put the title of a short story at the top of each page along with its word count and genre. If you also write poetry, start a poetry section about halfway through, marking the page with a paper clip. List the title of your poem at the top of each page along with line count and type of poetry (rhyming, lyrical, blank verse, etc.).
Near the top, write the word “Submissions,” then write the word “Published” a few lines up from the bottom, as you’ll have so many more submissions than publications. As you submit, list the date of submission and market. Indicate whether or not the market allows simultaneous submissions, i. e. submitting the story to more than one market at a time. When you get a response, note it in your Duotrope journal with the date of the response.
Update your submission tracker on Duotrope as well.
When you get an acceptance, and after the contract is signed (there should ALWAYS be a contract, even if there is no payment), fill in the first line under “Published.”
Let’s say I was researching where next to send “Final Word,” the story depicted in the photo. It’s short at just 2,100 words and has a more literary slant than, say, “Hannah & Gabriel,” which is a Steampunk retelling of “Hansel and Gretel,” or “A Kiss in the Rain,” which is Gothic Paranormal Erotica. Those are both also considerably longer stories. In looking for markets to submit “Final Word,” I come across a market that likes retellings of fairy tales. Instead of leaving it to chance (and the extra time it would take) of finding this market again among the thousands Duotrope catalogs, I write that market down on the “Hannah & Gabriel” page’s post-it note.
Saves time. Saves frustration. Keeps you organized.
Remember, this journal is for your benefit. It doesn’t replace the Duotrope submission tracker. It works along with it. This way you can have quick reference to which stories are out and which need to go out. After all, once you have a dozen short stories, that submission tracker can get very confusing. In fact, I filter my submission tracker to only show my accepted stories and those awaiting response. Anything rejected gets hidden for the sake of my sanity, not for my ego. This way the submission tracker is streamlined and manageable. I see all my rejections in my notebook, so as not to submit to the same market twice.
Your submission tracker (above) shows what story you submitted where and when. It also has symbols that indicate whether or not the market accepts simultaneous submissions or not. The numbers on the right are, from left to right, the number of days out, average days to respond for that market, maximum response time for that market, and the number of days when you should expect a response. If that last number goes into the negatives, it’s time to query about your story, or in extreme cases, like if it’s been over six months, withdraw it.
These numbers are why it’s so important to report your submissions, responses, and acceptances/rejections.
On the far right, a link “Update” takes you to the page where you can report that response and make any notes for yourself.
Truly, Duotrope is an invaluable service, well worth the $50. Invest in yourself and in your career.
This little tidbit was given to me by Adrienne Crezo (she’s all kinds of awesome), writer and blogger. Make a three-tiered list as you research markets through Duotrope: Dream List, Really Awesome, Wow, That’s Cool. On the top tier, Dream List, write down all your highest short story goals. These would probably be professionally paying markets or at least highly coveted markets. It will be different for everyone, depending on the type of short stories and personal preferences. This is my Dream List in no particular order except, of course, the first one:
- New Yorker Magazine
- Tin House
- The Collagist
- Alask Quarterly Review
- Zoetrope: All Story
- The Paris Review
- Cincinnatti Review
- The Three Penny Review
- Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine
- Ninth Letter
- Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction
After being published in so many different places and gathering not only some confidence in my writing but also experience in querying and being rejected (AND HOW!), I’m starting to tailor my stories for specific markets. I’ve submitted to one or two of these, and have been promptly rejected, but I haven’t yet submitted a tailored story to them. I have just submitted a story to one in my “Really Awesome” list, below, which was promptly rejected. I first purchased a copy of the magazine and read every short story in there to get a feel of the magazine. Before I submit to any of the above again, I will do the same. I’ll get a feel for the magazine, brainstorm, then write a story specifically for that market. If rejected, I’ll submit somewhere else, moving down the “Really Awesome” and “Wow, That’s Cool” lists first before going elsewhere.
Get them out. Keep them out–until published. Then, get them out there again. Remember, a lot of places will print reprints. It can only help you find your audience and build your author brand: YOUR NAME.
My Really Awesome list, again, in no particular order:
- Nightmare Magazines
- Beneath Ceaseless Skies
- Strange Horizons
- Clockwork Phoenix: Tales of Beauty and Strangeness
- subTerrain Magazine
- Boston Review
- Black Warrior Review
I recently submitted “Come To Me” to Penumbra, and although they rejected it a few days later, it’s a good little story. Since it won’t appear in Penumbra, it will be published elsewhere because I will keep it out there until it is. My short story “Final Word” was just published by The Rusty Nail. I wrote it in 2011 and it appeared in my own book Caught in the Cogs: An Eclectic Collection but nowhere else since. It took two years, but I kept it out there until it fit somehwere. I was rather pleased it got into The Rusty Nail, along with my poem “New York Rain.” Quite proud. I’m moving up, one step at a time.
Get them out. Keep them out. Until published.
My Wow, That’s Cool! list:
- The Pedestal Magazine
- SteamPunk Magazine
- Buzzy Mag
- Wily Writers
- Enchanted Conversations: A Fairy Tale Magazine
- Absinthe Revival
- Stupefying Stories
- Flash Fiction Online
Once you get your story published, PROMOTE IT! Tell everyone! Blast out newsletters. Blog about it. Facebook. Twitter. Goodreads. Create a Facebook Event celebrating it.
I was astounded when one of my editors told me that most authors don’t promote their work after publication. Wherever your story appears, in print or online, to purchase or for free, let everyone know about it.
Truly, short stories are a great way to both improve your skill and find new readers. I’ve found it as invaluable as any social networking tool for marketing. Build your career, hone your craft, and find new readers all at once.