Monday, February 7, 2022

Tips for Submitting Short Stories

By Shannon Lawrence


The short story world can be an emotional roller coaster, but it’s a fun, creative, and empowering experience in many ways. The hardest part can be overcoming the fear of submitting, which is more about the fear of judgment and rejection. Here’s the thing, though: a rejection is just a polite email saying the story doesn’t work for that particular publication. It’s not a personal judgment and has nothing to do with you as a person. It usually isn’t even about your story. Often, a story gets rejected because it doesn’t fit with that publication or a theme that has formed among the accepted stories. Even if the editor doesn’t like this story, that’s a matter of personal taste. Someone else will like it. There’s no reason to keep that story from the people who don’t even know they want it yet, so submit that puppy!

Fountain Pen Writing (Literacy), by Peter Milosevic, Wikimedia Commons

Once you get over the fear or discomfort involved with submitting, there’s the matter of figuring out where to submit the stories you’ve written.

Here are a few ways to get started:

  • 1.      Submit to publications you already read and enjoy. Their websites will have submission guidelines.
  • 2.      Use an online resource, such as Duotrope (annual fee) or Submission Grinder (free). These sites allow you to plug in information like story length and genre, then return publications matching those criteria and open for submissions.
  • 3.      Join groups on Facebook that are specifically about open markets for short stories. There are some that are general, while others are genre specific.
  • 4.      Check out “best of” anthologies to see where those stories were published in the first place.
  • 5.      Look at where short story authors you like are getting published and review the guidelines.
  • 6.      Subscribe to blogs or newsletters where they announce markets open for submissions.

After choosing a market (a magazine or anthology), the next step is to check their submission guidelines and determine that A. your story fits what they publish, and B. your story is formatted correctly to their specifications. If these are a go, check the guidelines again to see how they expect stories to be submitted. This may be via an email or through a submission portal. It’s far rarer, but some publications still take mailed submissions. Ensure you observe all their submission guidelines throughout the process, as different publications have varying requirements and stories not meeting those requirements may be rejected without having been read.

Android Email 8.1 Icon, Google, Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)

Now submit! But don’t just wait to hear back. Instead, get that next story written and submitted. Much success to you!

Have you ever submitted a short story? How did it go? Do you have any short stories waiting for submission? What’s holding you back from submitting?

A fan of all things fantastical and frightening, Shannon Lawrence writes primarily horror and fantasy. Her stories can be found in over forty anthologies and magazines, and her three solo horror short story collections and her nonfiction title, The Business of Short Stories, are available now. You can also find her as a co-host of the podcast Mysteries, Monsters, & Mayhem. When she's not writing, she's hiking through the wilds of Colorado and photographing her magnificent surroundings, where, coincidentally, there's always a place to hide a body or birth a monster. Find her at



Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Thanks for sharing the steps, Shannon!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Thanks for the great tips, Shannon! Congrats on your book!

Jemi Fraser said...

Great tips. I've only ever submitted a couple of short stories - and did get 2 published. I really have to get back into short story writing!

Gwen Gardner said...

Love the tips, thank you!

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I have always found short stories to be harder to write than novels. People who do them well are so gifted!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

There are so many markets for short stories, one just has to know where to look. You certainly do, Shannon!

Shannon Lawrence said...

Thank you for the forum to share, Alex!

Thank you, Natalie!

Jemi, it sounds like you could do well with short stories!

Gwen, thank you!

Elizabeth, thank you!

Diane, there are definitely many great places to find open calls!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

thanks Alex for posting this ... Shannon is so deserving of the recognition she's receiving - good luck to all who write short stories - cheers Hilary