I think the writing-related question I get asked most often is where do you get your ideas? My answer: Costco. They sell them in bulk.
Once I’ve finished writing a story, though, here’s the question I ask myself most often: Now what do I do with it?
The first answer, obviously, is revise it, after a suitable period of time has passed. But once I’m done writing the story and revising it—and then revising it again, and one more time, then shoving it in a drawer and saying “you’re dead to me” before pulling it out a month later and saying “I promise to treat you better,” then revising it again, and thinking maybe, maybe it’s done—
Wait, where was I? Oh, right. Writing and revising are perhaps the hardest parts, but then figuring out what to do with the thing once it’s finished is a different kind of quandary. Where do you submit it?
What are you reading?
The first place I look is the magazines I read and enjoy. My reading habits have changed a lot in the last four or five years, and while I still try and read widely, I’ve filled the main dish portion of my reading plate with magazines that are in the genres I write. That means places like Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, Apex, Fireside Fiction, Augur, Uncanny, and (pipe dream) Tor. Those are specifically science fiction and fantasy focused, or are open to queer narratives, which is a lot of what I write. I’m not reading them just because I want to get something in there (although that’s true).
That’s when I turn to a few other resources. Here they are.
Short (and long) fiction market guides
- Ralan.com. Wow, this one has been around probably as long as the web has been a popular thing. I think I first heard about it years ago from a friend in my old writing group, Writers Under the Arch. The design is still very much web2.0, but don’t let that turn you off. It’s full of resources specifically on spec fic markets. May require some hunting and pecking to find what you’re looking for, but it’s worth the time.
- The Creative Writers Opportunities List. This started as a Yahoo group in 2005 and I think I’ve been subscribed for at least that long. It’s now moved to a new home at Blogspot.
- Literistic. This used to be the first thing I’d list, and if you’re writing literary fiction, you should probably check it first, too. There’s a free version, the short list, and a paid version, the long list, which is more tailored to your specific genre interests. I went ahead and plunked down for a long list subscription this year, and it’s been worth it.
- Lambda Literary’s calls for submission. Like I said, most of the things I write have a queer bent, so I keep and eye on their submission calls board.
- New Pages Classifieds section. I don’t check this nearly as often as I used to, but it’s still a fairly exhaustive repository of the latest contests and submission calls, along with workshops, conferences, and other offerings.
- The Practicing Writer. Every month, poet Erika Dreifus sends a roundup of submission calls, job opportunities, and more. Best of all: every submission call or contest she posts has zero submission fees.
- Poets & Writers has a searchable database of literary magazines, contests, and a lot more. You can search by genre (fiction, poetry, nonfiction), subgenre (an extensive list including Speculative Fiction, LGBTQ, Spiritual, and the like), and whether they take simultaneous submissions.
Keep reading, keep writing
Of course, researching markets is just the first step. Then I go back to reading: a sample issue, or some stories online to make sure that a) they publish stories like mine and b) that I want my work to appear there.
And while I’m sending stuff out, I try to keep writing. Because I haven’t run out of stories to tell yet.