Where Should I Publish?

Recently, a friend of mine completed a new story.  Big ups to her.  But now she’s got the matter of finding places to submit her work, and she asked me for an opinion on places that would be a good fit.

Short answer: send it anywhere and everywhere.

But considering how many markets there are, large and small, that’s a crap answer, so let me elaborate.

Duotrope is the first place I turn to, and while some might not like the idea of shelling out $50 annually for the subscription, it’s totally worth it.  And, really, that comes out to just over $4 a month, so the fee isn’t grumble-worthy.  It’s got a fantastic database of markets that you can narrow down by type of work (fiction vs. poetry, for example), length, genre, and subgenre.  It also has a handy submission tracker to keep tabs on what’s out and when you can expect a response.  I have my own submission tracker already, but that redundancy helps ensure I’m not overlooking anything.

Be advised, there are a other submission databases and trackers such as Submission Grinder and The Writer’s Database.  I have not used either of these, so I can’t endorse them.  They could be good, bad, or virtually the same as Duotrope, and now that I think about it, I might set aside some time to check them out and report back.

Writer’s Market is another great resource.  It’s non-digital, so perhaps a little more time-intensive flipping through it than an online search, even with the convenient table of contents.  I mostly refer to Writer’s Market for the articles at the front end of the book.  The selection is also still a bit limited since it’s a printed document.  There are only so many names you can list before it stops being a book and starts being a something you club a seal with.

Also, don’t wait to look around for markets until you’ve got something to submit.  I try spending a little time each week seeking out various presses to include in a mental rolodex.  For example, Kelsye Nelson, founder of Avasta Press, recently followed me on Twitter.  I hadn’t heard of her or Avasta before then (sorry, Kelsye, but it’s true).  Would I disregard Avasta right off the bat?  No.  I would look into their catalog of books, get a hold of and read a few that caught my attention, and see if I’ve got anything down the road that might interest them.

This goes for any publisher you have a chance encounter with.  I came back from AWP with a stack of business cards so thick it turned my wallet into a boulder, and a stack of books from each of them so large and heavy that I’ve got back pain.

I do this personalized approach for a few reasons.  First, I like meeting new people.  Second, I like fostering relations with editors and publishers because it makes me stand out to them as a writer, and just as important, it makes them stand out in my mind when I have material.  Third, those relationships help me get a better understanding of the overall publishing process so that, when I approach other markets for the first time, I’m not going into the situation cocky and ignorant.

When you’re ready to submit, remember that markets, editors, and publishers are not the destination.  Getting your words into print for the masses it the destination.  Look at editors and publishers as potential partners towards that goal.

And if you never write something they’d consider publishing, who cares?  It costs nothing to be nice.  Being an asshole requires effort.

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