Nowhere to Submit?

Looking for a magazine to submit my short stories to has been a little frustrating, a little depressing too. So many of them say ‘Closed’, ‘not open till August of 2300AA (After Apocalypse, thank you very much)’. While I have a submission list, I have maybe five magazines to submit to.

That irritated me. And then today, I started thinking about it and came to a somewhat startling realization.

I’d love to have subscriptions to all of these magazines so that I can see the awesome work that I’m trying to match. I’d like to have them just because I love short stories. The problem? I don’t have anywhere near enough money to subscribe to F&SF, Ideomancer, Strange Horizons, Clarkesworld, Cemetery Dance, and however many other great magazines are out there. There are too many options.

Effectively, it’s a bunch of publications trying to fill the same niche at the same time. Which is awesome. Market diversity is a great thing. But when magazines and anthologies are the only short-story market, it will get glutted in a hurry.

A lot of magazines have closed recently, and with the economy being what it is, plenty of others seem to be tightening their belts along with the rest of us. I don’t think the answer is to start more magazines. We’ve already seen that the market can’t support that many. Like it or not, a lot of places are moving online.

Personally, I love print. I like print books, print newspapers, print magazines. There’s something so satisfying about holding a book, turning the pages. I can’t read an entire book in one sitting at my computer. I tried that with Anne Bishop’s Dark Jewels series. I can read a book in one sitting, if it’s in my comfy chair with a soft lamp and a cup of tea. I can’t tell you how many hours have slipped away in that manner. I love sitting at the breakfast table in the morning, reading a magazine while sipping tea or OJ. It’s a bit of escapism, because I spend so much time at my computer.

Also, if I have something in print I own it. Even an ebook can be lost in those all too-frequent computer crashes.

I’ve mentioned before that short stories don’t really get much love, and certainly not as much respect as a novel. But some of our most enduring literary works are little more than short stories, or compilations of short stories.

As a kid, we spent hours in the evening, reading out loud. It wasn’t that we didn’t have anything to do, or that we weren’t tired. My grandfather still puts in 10-12 hour days at his engineering office, my grandmother runs the property and takes care of the animals and does all of the taxes and bookwork and errands. When I was young, we were involved heavily in church as well. I was home-schooled for a long time. We watched plenty of movies (but no TV).

We would read a book a week at least… out loud. Short stories, novels, religious reading. It is one of the best memories of my life. It taught me inflection, pronunciation, appreciation. It helped me overcome a mild speech impediment (although that has reappeared to some degree… possibly because I don’t read aloud anymore!)

Short stories are perfect to read aloud at family night.

Short stories are something even busy people can commit to. Teenagers won’t get bored as quickly… And do you really want them reading something that’s the quality of Twilight or Eragon when there are such wonderful options available?

Short stories are great for giving yourself an introduction to a particular author’s work. There are many authors I’d never have picked up except for reading one of their short stories.

In short, let’s have more anthologies. Let’s give short stories some love, and let’s not forget that we really do have a nice selection of magazines to send our short stories to, it is in fact an embarrassment of riches.

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4 Responses to “Nowhere to Submit?”

  1. Well said. I, too, wish there was more of an excepted market for short-stories and that it would benefit both writer and reader alike.

    While the writer market for short-stories seems to be waning, there is always the ever-popular (and growing) area of contests. Many of these are reputable and offer publication to the winner(s) through an annual anthology. Also, the contests can offer recognition to a break-in writer that might go unnoticed in a standard magazine.

    Of course, as writers, we look at all options available to us.

  2. Jaym Gates Says:

    I’d still love to see more anthologies. Something we discussed at Fantasy was the balance of well-known authors with new authors.

    Well-known authors bring in the readers and money, but it’s often the newer writers that keep people coming back. Sort of a nice little cycle.

    Bah, that sounded more coherent in my mind. Too much writing today.

  3. I’d like to see more anthologies, too. In my teens, I loved Cicada, and now one of my personal challenges is to get one of my stories published there.

    You probably use it already, but as far as looking for submission markets, I’ve found http://www.duotrope.com extremely helpful.

  4. Jaym Gates Says:

    Duotrope is AWESOME. I bookmarked it long ago, but only found it when I got serious about Wind-Loved. I recommend it to everyone now.

    Cicada eh? I’ll have to look into that.

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