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How to Publish A Short Story AKA Where Do I Sell My Stories

Updated on September 29, 2010

It all begins with something we want to share

So, you wrote a short story and you want to share it with the world. I honor and respect you for that, but first, it might be a good idea to get your house in order before running off to market your goods. After all, you want to make a good first impression, right?

Before you start searching for a market to publish your story, you need to go over it with a fine-toothed comb. Check it for spelling mistakes, poor grammar, and story logic. Make certain this is the best you can do before marketing your story, or you could regret it later. After all, if it's not ready to be published, then it probably will be rejected. Worse yet, it could be accepted, glaring mistakes and all, making you look foolish in front of many readers.

Read it, reread it, then allow a few trusted friends to read it. Then (and only then) should you consider the next step – finding someone to publish your work.

Online, there are many directories that list places that are looking for new stories. Avoid the cons by going with a reputable site. Do I know of one? Absolutely!

2009 Novel & Short Story Writer's Market (NOVEL AND SHORT STORY WRITER'S MARKET)
2009 Novel & Short Story Writer's Market (NOVEL AND SHORT STORY WRITER'S MARKET)

Another great source for finding short story writing markets. It's not free, but it does contain some names you might not find otherwise.



I do not work for this website, nor do I advertise for them or receive any compensation for doing so. I recommend them because they are a free resource available to all authors.

With what little a starting author makes from his works he needs all the free help that is available to get started on the right foot.

A sample of a search

This is an actual search I performed, looking for a pro paying market for a sci-fi story.
This is an actual search I performed, looking for a pro paying market for a sci-fi story.

What is duotrope?

Simply said, it's a one-stop shopping mall for finding places to sell your short stories. It's free (no hidden costs) and it lists everyone from Azimov to Zeotrope (as well as a few names that don't fit in-between). The interface on the site allows you to easily find places to market your stories and they have tracking available as well – allowing you to watch over your submissions (I use this feature to keep myself from accidentally submitting my story to the same place twice – a real no-no in the writing biz.)

Once you find several places that interest you, I recommend going to their websites and looking at the type of stories they are already marketing. Ask yourself … does my story fit in well with these? If so, then score them down as someone you want to approach and skim through the website through their guidelines.

Guidelines? What are guidelines?

Guidelines are the rules for submitting to any publisher. Obey them, and you stand a chance at selling your story – ignore them, and you might as well not bother submitting, as these guidelines are typically written in stone and are non-negotiable. Also, be certain to see how much they pay for a story. Some places pay by the word, while others pay by the story – it's important to know, so you can make an informed decision. Finally, check the word count to be certain your story fits into what they are looking for. If they are asking for less than 5000 words, don't send them 5500 – move onto another possibility, or consider cutting down your story to meet their size requirement.

What are my odds?

I was selling stories online when I was a totally unknown writer, so it is possible for anyone to sell their story. However, possible and probable are two different things. Be prepared to submit to many different places and consider revising your story if you're seeing nothing but rejections. You also need to know when to quit with a story … Sometimes you can write a fantastic story only to find it won't sell … Why? Because the market is flooded with that story type and reader interest has waned. On the other hand, sometimes a mediocre story will sell, just because the topic is hot at the time.

You can never gauge the sellability of a story until you put it out there, so it's worth taking the chance. Many of the publishers accept email submissions, which pushes the cost to submit down to zero, so it's worth taking the chance to see what happens.

Why do some places publish without paying you anything?

Ah yes, the 'for the love' markets. As a new writer, this might be your only option to start out with. The bigger the publisher is, the higher the talent pool they will demand. You might be that one in a million that gets published in a big magazine on your first try, but if you are like most of us writers … you'll need to pay your dues.

By submitting to the 'for the love' or 'no pay' markets, you place your work out there to get noticed. Some of these no-pay magazines have very large readerships, so you can gain fans really quick, depending on the quality of the writing you produce. If you think your work is truly spectacular and no one is paying you to publish it, then I recommend giving a few away in this manner to bolster your resume, as well as your fanbase. After all, fans drive the market, and if you garner enough of them, those high paying markets will be waiting for a turn at your next great offering.

Anything else I need to know?

Yes … there are no short story millionaires (to my knowledge). If you intend on investing a lot of time in short stories then do it for the love of writing and let whatever profits might come your way be your own personal encouragement that your fans are willing to pay for your work.

Now, if you really find yourself with a lot of fans, then you might consider writing a novel. The market is a lot tougher, but the chances for a considerable profit are better, and if you are already known well for your short stories it will be easier to secure an agent (a necessity for selling larger works and not finding yourself raked over the coals).

You also need to know that great writers are not a dying species. The competition is fierce and readers change their taste on a daily basis. As such, you want to keep offering something that tastes a little different from the previous meals you offered. By providing a variety of fresh new ideas, you can cultivate a strong following that will wait on pins and needles for that next short story,

So, what are you writing for? Get out there and write!

Oh, and if you're in the market to sell a novel, let me know ... Imight write up a hub for that as well. It so happens I know a great free site that will help you do that to!


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    • Benny01 profile image

      Ijeoma Peter 

      4 years ago from Lagos, Nigeria

      Marisa, I agree with you, friends can even discourage you from publishing.

      I remember some years back I wrote a poem and gave it to my sister to read and tell me what she think about it. Surprisingly, she didn't see anything wrong or good about it, it just a piece of words put together.

      A good online editors is the best start, they would give you an honest opinion about your article or story.

    • Marisa Wright profile image

      Kate Swanson 

      4 years ago from Sydney

      I'd strongly recommend you change that sentence about "allowing a few trusted friends" to read your story - that's the WORST thing you can do! Friends are never going to be too kind and sugar-coat their critique. You need impartial opinions. I second the vote for as a good starting point - it's password-protected so you're not publishing your work where it could get stolen.

    • Marsha Musselman1 profile image

      Marsha Musselman 

      6 years ago from Michigan, USA

      Great hub. I voted it up and awesome. I'll pin it as well. I like your poll question, by the way. I haven't thought about asking that question. I have checked out duotrop in the past, but I was thinking there was a fee for joining, unless it was a different site than the digest part of it.

    • Melovy profile image

      Yvonne Spence 

      6 years ago from UK

      I've never heard of Duotrop before so am very glad to have stumbled on this hub. I have written several short stories and sold a few the traditional way, but would love to sell a few more, so will give this a go.

      Thanks for the information.

    • Anju Arya profile image

      Anju Arya 

      7 years ago from India

      I have some knowledge about Duotrop' s Digest but never tried. Now I will send to. Thanks for so useful information.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Unemployed due to deflating economy, this 61 year old wise cracking fart has been pushed by friends and the need to eat at least once a day to get serious about his writing. Thank you for the great foundation on how to begin that journey. See you around.

    • chicagoguy profile image

      Raj Lally Batala 

      7 years ago from Chicago ,USA

      great hub !! i tried to search duotorpe bit confusing !! gotta work on that !! thanks

    • yoshi97 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from a land called 'what if?'


      I highly recommend against this practice. The idea of publishing a short story is to get it out to the public and hopefully be paid for your hard work.

      When you publish your work the publisher will often ask for first publishing rights and ownership rights for a set period of time (typically one year from the date of first publication). As such, they could see your excerpts as an infringement on your deal with them and could possibly sue you (though this rarely occurs). More often than not, the publisher will review to publish your future articles, and if they are in co-publication with other vendors (which many are) they could blackball you from several lucrative markets.

      Rather than place excerpts on your blog I would recommend incroporating your synopsis and then directing the readers on a way they can read your story (such as buying the publication it's being hosted in. In doing things this way you market your story while providing free advertising for your publisher - a win-win - and one that is surely to have your publisher more open to your future stories.

      When you compare the number of people who read your blog to the potential number of people who could read your story in a publication, you can easily see why this would be the best route to take.

      Good luck with the writing! :)

    • Rishabh Chaudhary profile image

      Rishabh Chaudhary 

      7 years ago from New Delhi, India

      what if I publish excerpts from my work on a blog??

    • htodd profile image


      8 years ago from United States

      Great Post,Thanks for this hub

    • gagan000 profile image


      8 years ago from NAGPUR

      hey dear......i want to publish my to do this?help me

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 

      8 years ago from UK

      Really useful info, thanks yoshi, as a writer of short stories it is good to know where the markets are.

    • TruthAwake profile image


      8 years ago from The Dirty South

      This information is priceless, and I will definitely be back to read more of your hubs. Keep up the great work. =)

    • nighthag profile image

      K.A.E Grove 

      8 years ago from Australia

      thanks heaps for some great advice, new to short story writing, so its nice to get some ideas on what i can be doing with them. thanks so much for a great hub!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      for a starter, this site helps a lot, thanks for the advise

    • purpleangel47 profile image


      9 years ago from Baltimore, Maryland

      Thank you so much yoshi97. Your information was very useful. My head does a complete 360 with all the various bits of info out there. I appreciate you sharing.

    • jlwhets profile image


      9 years ago from West Branch, Iowa

      It is always nice to get a good review of a site as there are so many out there! Thanks.

    • yoshi97 profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from a land called 'what if?'


      Wile you could do so, I would highly recommend against that, as you would be placing your stories into public domain and making them unpalatable to those who would be willing to pay for them.

      As a better option, I would sign up for Critique Circle(it's free)

      It's open only to members and it allows you to get critiques on your work as you critique (and learn from) the works of others. From there, you can move onto Duotrope to find a place to market your stories when they are ready. :)

    • profile image

      Sherree Kearney 

      9 years ago

      thinking about writing short stories. Just need to find out what it takes. Can I start writing my short stories on Hub?

    • Sandyspider profile image

      Sandy Mertens 

      9 years ago from Wisconsin, USA

      Thanks for the information. I been looking for this.

    • dl53acy profile image


      9 years ago from East Texas

      Great write. I'm a member of Duotrope's Digest and everything you've mentioned is true.

    • stars439 profile image


      9 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

      nice article. thanks

    • yoshi97 profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from a land called 'what if?'

      Thanks! I only wish I would have known all of this my first try out ...

      Ah, those bygone days, when writers had no choice but to dig through Google to find a possible site to sell their wares. *sigh*

    • Stacie L profile image

      Stacie L 

      10 years ago

      this had some good information...i will investigate this =)


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