If you’re wondering how to get a short story published, you’re in luck because we've got the answers. There are several different avenues to take, and most ways are easy and accessible to all types of writers.
So whether you're a novice writer or have only been published a few times, it's possible to get a short story published.
If you’re ready to start, we’ll walk you through how to prepare your short story for readers. We'll also share the best places to get your short story published!
How to prepare your short story for publishing
The first step when it comes to how to get a short story published is preparation.
Running spell check and making grammatical edits isn't the only way to prepare. Preparing your stories for publication also involves knowing how and where to publish.
That said, the following steps will help you be successful.
Decide on your goal for publishing your short story
When deciding on a publishing goal, ask yourself what you want the outcome to be.
Do you want to share your story with as many people as possible? Or do you want your short story to help you gain credibility as an author? Likewise, you can turn writing and publishing short stories into a side gig.
Once you have your goal, it's easier to choose a publishing method.
Choose the best publishing method
When publishing books such as novels or memoirs, there are two main publishing routes, traditional vs. self-publishing. However, with short stories, you have these same two options plus a few more.
Most traditional book publications focus on publishing larger books such as novels and memoirs. That said, if you want to use a traditional publisher, while not mandatory, you may need the help of a literary agent.
Traditional publishing can often be the most challenging way to publish your short story. It’s not impossible, but it takes more time and patience than other routes.
Indie publishers tend to work independently and are more willing to work with authors without an agent. They cater to specific audiences or niches, which gives you an advantage if you write in their targeted niche.
Remember that the publication process for Indie publishers can often take longer than other publishing routes.
Online submissions involve publishing your short story in a literary magazine or journal. It can also mean submitting your story to contests or podcasts that read short stories out loud on their platform.
Self-publishing is one of the fastest ways to publish your short story. There are a lot of self-publishing companies to choose from. However, publishing your short story on your website is also an option.
Follow the publishing guidelines for short stories
No matter the route you decide, there will be publishing guidelines that you must follow.
These guidelines tell you precisely what to do to submit your short story. They may include things like specific formatting requirements, book details, content details etc
Note that rejection is inevitable for short stories that don't follow the guidelines.
You can find publishing guidelines on a publishing company’s website or send an email request if you can’t locate them.
Fine-tune your short story
After you review the guidelines, you can make adjustments to submit your story.
Furthermore, some critical edits to look out for are the correct story length for the publication, solid character development and plot, an attention-grabbing introduction, and a memorable ending.
Along with these edits, asking someone you know to read your story and give you feedback can also be helpful. With an extra set of eyes on your work, you fill in any gaps you might have missed.
Write a compelling cover letter
Writing an intriguing cover letter is an essential part of how to get a short story published. Especially when submitting your writing to journals and traditional publications.
In you’re letter, you’ll want to include the following:
- An attention-grabbing introduction
- What makes your book interesting
- Mention your target audience
- Share your experience and credentials
- Lastly, share your contact information
A cover letter doesn’t have to be long, but it serves as a way to introduce you and your story to publishers.
Submit and keep track of your submissions
When submitting, you don’t have to limit yourself to submitting to one publication at a time. You can submit your story to as many as you want.
However, keeping track of who you’re submitting to is essential. Using an excel sheet or other online tools is a helpful place to store submission information.
Keeping track of where you’re sending your short story helps you to follow up with the publications. Staying organized also reminds you to notify other publications that your story is no longer available when your story is accepted.
7 Best places to get a short story published
With your short story prepared, you can send it into the publishing world. Here are the seven best places to share your story with readers.
1. Popular online publications
Online publications are among the best places to get short stories published. Here are some common ones.
The New Yorker
The New Yorker is one of the most well-known magazines in the world.
Known for covering topics such as politics, cultural commentary, poetry, fiction, and humor, The New Yorker is a great place to get more eyes on your work.
For fiction and poetry submissions, you can submit them online. Submissions are read every 90 days, so if you don’t hear back within that time frame, you can submit your short to other publications.
Flash Fiction Online
Flash Fiction Online accepts publications all year long from the 1st to the 21st of the month.
They focus on stories between 500-1000 words and are open to various genres. In addition, they're a paying publication and invite authors from all different backgrounds, nationalities, races, and genders to submit their work.
Reader’s Digest is one of America’s most-read publications, with 100 years in business. And a contributor to this success is their 100-word story submissions, where they invite writers to share an inspiring story in 100 words or less.
There is a $100 compensation for accepted stories. And a published story in Reader's Digest is great exposure.
2. Literary magazines/journals
Unlike fashion or new magazines focusing on pop culture, literary magazines or journals focus solely on literature. They focus on publishing short stories, poems, and essays.
Getting short stories published in a literary magazine can have many benefits, such as exposure, credibility, and compensation.
Here are some magazines that accept short story submissions.
Virginia Quarterly review (VQR)
The Virginia Quarterly Review accepts poetry, fiction, and non-fiction stories. VQR has been circulating since the 1920s and appeals to readers in the United States and worldwide.
They don’t publish previously published work and invite authors to submit their work online through a specific platform. Note that they do not accept email submissions.
In addition, submission reading happens yearly from July 1st to 31st.
They usually respond within six months to accepted stories. Payment for poems, fiction, and non-fiction can range from $200 to $1000.
AGNI is a literary magazine based at Boston University, that focuses on publishing work from new writers worldwide.
They print stories both online and in their bi-annual print publication. They seek to work with writers passionate about engaging in the world around them.
AGNI focuses on publishing memoirs, prose, formal poems, personal essays, think pieces, and short stories. However, they do not publish in the genre of romance, mystery, science fiction, or horror.
Online submissions are accepted between February 15th and May 31st and from September 1st to December 15th. There is a $3 fee for online submissions, or you can send your submission by mail to avoid the fee.
Published stories or poems receive between $20-$40 per printed page with a maximum of $300. In addition, published authors receive a year's subscription to AGNI.
Boulevard focuses on publishing writers who already have some credibility. In addition, they only publish in the genres of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction.
Boulevard accepts short story submissions yearly from November 1st to May 1st. You can send in multiple submissions, but you cannot submit previously published work.
There is a $3 fee for submission, but published work receives between $50 to $300 depending on the submission type.
Whether you’re a new writer or more experienced, if you can write a compelling flash fiction story in 1000 words or less, then Smokelong is the publication for you.
They pay $100 upon publishing. You can submit your story year-round and usually get a response in four weeks or less.
Contests are a simple way to get a short story published, especially if you’re a new writer. Most contests only require you to submit your story and contact information. And winning a contest means a larger audience gets to read your work.
Here are some contests to consider entering.
The Writers College
You can enter The Writers College annual contest if you’re a new writer who's been published fewer than four times.
Short stories of any genre are accepted. And there are prizes for first, second, and third-place winners.
You can send short story submissions online, but be sure to check the open and closing submission dates to know when to submit.
Christopher Fielden’s biennial short story competition
If your short story has a bit of humor, consider Christopher Fielden’s competition that opens every other year.
There is an entry fee; however, there are cash prizes for first, second, and also third-place winners.
Anthology magazine flash fiction competition
The Anthology flash fiction competition supports writers from around the world. Writers can submit short stories written in English that are unique and compelling.
You can also submit multiple stories. However, you must pay an entry fee for each story submitted. The winner will receive around a $300 prize.
4. Literary agents
Literary agents can help when getting short stories published. They can get your short story into the hands of traditional publishers.
However, before submitting your story, it’s important to know which agents work with short stories and which do not.
Here are some agencies to look into.
DCL Agency has a wide range of agents who accept stories of different genres, such as literary and commercial fiction, children’s literature, and non-fiction.
You can look up their list of agents to see who is accepting queries.
InkWell Management is a well-known publication that publishes many award-winning authors.
On their website, you can find the contact information of different agents and their submission guidelines.
Janklow & Nesbit
Janklow & Nesbit is an agency that provides clients with the attention and care of a boutique agency but runs a business like an enterprise.
With this agency, you can submit your manuscript for non-fiction, fiction, picture books, and graphic novels directly to the agent you’d like to work with.
5. Self-publishing platforms
Self-publishing is one of the fastest ways to publish your short story. It often is more work for the author. However, you can share your story with whoever and whenever.
In addition, you have limitless earning potential.
Here are some of the popular self-publishing platforms.
Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing
One of the largest self-publishing platforms, Amazon KDP, allows you to upload your manuscript, design a cover, set a price and list your story on the Amazon marketplace.
Commaful allows a unique way of publishing your short story. They upload their stories in a picture book format, making stories simple and engaging for readers.
The upload system is simple, fast, and free.
Barnes & Noble
Another excellent self-publishing website is Barnes & Noble. They have a free and straightforward uploading process, and you can offer pre-sales.
Google books also has become more inclusive with its self-publishing platform. You can now easily upload your short story without an approval period. Therefore you can start selling your book right away.
Your story will be available to Googe Play users. In addition, you can run promotions such as downloading the first book in a series for free.
For those Apple users out there, Apple Books is a very good place to publish your short story. They offer 70 percent royalties and a simple uploading process.
Podcasts are a great source of news and entertainment. They are also the place where short stories are read aloud to listeners.
Many listeners tune into certain podcasts to hear riveting short stories. Some great podcasts to check out include the No Sleep Podcast for extremely scary stories and the Cast Of Wonders Podcast for young adult fiction.
7. Publish short stories on Medium
Another answer to how to get a short story published is through Medium.com.
An online and free platform, you can use Medium to publish your short stories, write articles and share your written content with thousands of users.
You can also use a paid partnership program to eventually earn money from writing.
How to get a short story published using your website
One essential tool to have as a writer is an author’s website. It’s a place to upload your work, connect with readers and showcase your talents and achievements.
Having a website can help you connect with the press and help you to appear more professional when approaching literary agents or publishers.
Because you can upload what you want on your website, it’s a great place for publishing short stories.
Here’s how to use your website to get a short story published.
Publish on your blog
If you’re a newer writer, creating a blog can be a great place to publish your short story.
Showcasing your work on your blog can help you attract new readers and get insights and feedback.
You can also create a blog around the same theme as your short story. For instance, you can create a blog around the best mystery novels if you write a mystery story. Doing so can attract new readers interested in reading your story.
Share with your email subscribers
With a website, you can build your email list to send out newsletters. You can connect with readers and share exclusive information with an email list.
A newsletter is also an excellent place to publish your story. You can send stories in several newsletters or share one email with your full story.
By sharing your story in this format, you can build trust with your readers and build up anticipation for a future short story or book release.
Related articles on getting published
Was this article helpful? For more support on your publishing journey, check out these related posts.
- A Step By Step Guide On How To Become An Author
- How To Get A Book Published: Self-Publishing Vs Traditional Publishing
- How To Write An Ebook And Make Money
There are many ways to publish your short story!
Now you have a sufficient understanding of how to get a short story published. And as you can see, getting short stories published isn't complicated.
Remember, it first starts with having an objective for your short story.
Once you understand your intention for publishing your short story, the next step is choosing between traditional publishing, online submissions, and self-publishing.
Lastly, it’s essential to take your time with this process, review your work, follow guidelines, and continue fine-tuning and submitting it until it’s published.