Submitting Short Fiction

Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Genre Edition

Holly Lyn Walrath
Feb 9, 2019 · 29 min read
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Image Courtesy Raw Pixel

1. Finish the Story

I was writing fiction, but not finishing fiction.

— Elizabeth Moon

What is a finished story?

An experienced slush-pile reader doesn’t need more than a few seconds to see if a story has potential. You don’t need to eat all of a rotten egg to determine that it’s rotten.

— Gardner Dozois

How do I know when a story is ready?

2. Format Your Manuscript

“First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won’t. Habit is persistence in practice.”

— Octavia Butler, in Bloodchild and Other Stories

3. Research Publications

If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?

— Albert Einstein

Evaluating a Magazine’s Quality & Fit

Tiering Submissions

4. Create a Cover Letter — And Don’t Overdo It

Do not give them a reason to doubt your ability before they’ve even seen your story. Let the work speak for itself.

Christie Yant

Writing a Bio

5. Follow the Guidelines

6. Decide on a Submission Tracking System

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Above is a sample of my current stories on submission

Thoughts on Submission Volume

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My submission numbers in the past year

7. Don’t Self-Reject

Create it. Send it. Create more. It is hard. It is painful. It is scary. Acceptance is never guaranteed and might be harder to obtain. But — we need these voices. We need our own voices. Don’t self-reject.

Rose Lemberg

8. Go Do Something Else

9. Be Prepared for a Lot of Rejection, and Some Acceptances

If you give up at the first rejection or the first bad review, you will never make it in publishing.

— Jane Yolen


Higher Tier

Revise & Resubmit

Dealing with Rejection

The Elusive Acceptance

Now What?

Promote Your Story

10. Don’t be a Jerk

Another day, another profanity-laced email (with veiled threat) in response to a rejection letter. Filed for future reference. #EditingLife

Neil Clarke, Editor of Clarkesworld, on Twitter

The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it, makes it live: a live thing, a story.

— Ursula K. Le Guin

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