How To Have A Short Story Published

If you’re looking to get your short story published, there are a few things you should know first. First, the entire publishing industry is in flux right now. 

Many promising careers have been shut out by the advent of e-books and self-publishing (if you want to hear about this more, check out How to Become a Writer).

But it’s still possible for new writers to break into literary magazines and other markets with some persistence and a little bit of luck. 

Second, there’s a lot more work involved than just writing stories; getting your work seen means having an online presence (i.e., a blog or website) as well as submitting your work to literary journals and contests around the country in hopes that they’ll accept your story for publication. 

If you’re interested in pursuing this endeavor, keep reading! We’ll go over what it takes to get started writing short stories as well as tips on how you can make sure yours are published.

How to Publish Your First Short Story – YouTube
1. Follow submission guidelines of target publications.
2. Revise and edit your short story for polish and clarity.
3. Research suitable magazines and platforms for submission.
4. Consider both traditional and self-publishing options.
5. Craft a professional cover letter for each submission.
6. Prepare to face rejection, and persist in submitting.
7. Network and connect with other writers for advice.
8. Patience is key; the publication process may take time.
9. Be open to feedback and consider revisions if needed.
10. Celebrate your successes, whether big or small.

Learn How To Write

Your ability to communicate effectively is dependent on your ability to use the language. This means knowing how to use words, grammar and punctuation correctly. It also means knowing how to write in an engaging manner that will keep readers interested throughout the story.

You must learn all of these skills if you want your short stories published by a magazine or literary journal. 

It’s also important because most editors won’t even consider publishing your work if it isn’t written well enough any more than they would consider publishing someone who couldn’t speak English properly

Crafting compelling characters and intricate plots are among the many skills that can elevate your storytelling. Learn more about honing your writing abilities with our guide on becoming a better writer.

Take A Class Or Go To A Writing Workshop

If you want to improve your writing skills and make your short stories more professional, consider taking a class or workshop. 

A good class or workshop will help you learn about the basics of writing: story structure, plot and character development, the difference between plot and theme, the writing process (including how to come up with ideas), and revision techniques.

Read Short Stories

Read short stories. This is the first and most essential step in learning how to write a short story. You can learn a lot from reading other people’s work, including what makes a good story and what makes a bad one.

It’s also important that you read different types of short stories so that you can see what works for others and then decide how you want your own story to be different from or similar to their work.

There are many genres within the umbrella of “short fiction”: science fiction, fantasy/horror, mystery/thriller/suspense (and maybe even romance), but also historical fiction and literary fiction the list goes on! 

And if I had space where I could give suggestions for specific authors whose work exemplifies these subgenres well—some names include Ray Bradbury (science fiction), Edgar Allan Poe (mystery/thriller/suspense), and Stephen King (horror)…

But instead let me direct you toward some anthologies instead: The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror Stories by Terri Windling & Ellen Datlow; World Fantasy Award Anthology Series edited by David Smedman et al.; 

The Year’s Best Science Fiction over 100 volumes now published with many more forthcoming after 2009

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Study The Market

Before you begin writing, you need to know the kind of short story that has been published in magazines and journals. You can learn about these publications by reading the literary press. You can also read anthologies and collections, as well as individual authors’ books. 

If you have time, look up some of your favorite writers online and see what they are up to. For example, I’m sure Stephen King has a blog where he’s been posting more recent stories than those found in his latest book.

Start Small

You can start small by writing a short story. That’s right, you don’t have to write an entire novel to be published. 

If you’re new to writing, try writing flash fiction pieces or short plays instead of full-length plays. Writing a screenplay is another great way for beginners to practice their craft and learn how scripts work before tackling the task of writing an entire novel script.

Other formats include poetry (such as free verse or traditional forms), essays (such as personal narratives), blogs, and letters. 

Again, these are just suggestions! The key here is not so much which format you choose but rather that whether it is a poem or an essay it must be concise enough.

So that others understand what kind of message/idea/theme/etc., without being overly wordy or difficult on the eyes when they read it themselves later down the line after publication has occurred online through social media sites like Twitter

Join A Critique Group

One of the best ways to improve your writing is by getting feedback from other writers in a critique group. Critique groups are an excellent way to practice your craft and get some much-needed constructive criticism before sending out your work for publication.

You may have heard that there are three kinds of people: those who can count and those who cannot count. While this may or may not be true, if you want to become a writer, you must learn how to count things like words on paper or dollars in your bank account!

Here’s how it works: Each member of the critique group sends their story (or novel) in word format as an attachment via email. 

The other members read the story and then give feedback about what they liked or didn’t like about it and how they think it could be improved upon via email by attaching their document with comments added at specific locations within the text (usually marked with brackets). 

Then everyone reads everyone else’s comments and adds them into his/her document before re-submitting it for further review by all group members again until everyone is satisfied with what has been written so far!

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Apply For Writing Grants And Fellowships

If you’re a full-time writer, applying for grants and fellowships can be an excellent way to subsidize your income. The process can take several months or even years, so it’s important to plan.

The first thing you’ll need is a clear idea of what kind of grant or fellowship you want to apply for not all awards are created equal, and some may only be available in specific countries or regions. 

Scholarships designed specifically for writers will typically require that your work has been published (and often reviewed favorably).

This means this kind of application usually isn’t something newbie writers will be able to use right away. 

In contrast, grants tend not to require that applicants have any credentials beyond their ability as writers which makes them more accessible than other funding options like scholarships and fellowships.

Some resources where you can find out about these awards include:

Literary journals’ websites; if they have one available online then chances are good that they also post information about who gets paid what when it comes time for publication! 

If not then check out their guidelines section where they might mention the types of submissions they accept each year (this information should be listed under “Submissions”).

Submit To Literary Magazines

Literary magazines are a great place to start. They publish short stories, so it makes sense that you should submit your work there. 

You can find lists of magazines on the Internet or in your local library. Most literary magazines have an annual fee for submissions (usually around $20), but you won’t be charged unless your story is accepted for publication by their editorial board.

Purchase Books With Reprinted Stories And Submit them To Those Markets

One of the best ways to find markets for your work is to visit your local library or bookstore. If you’re lucky, there will be a shelf full of books featuring published stories from various magazines and journals. 

Read through them and see if anything inspires you – this is an excellent place to look for markets that are looking for new material!

Another great place to find reprint anthologies (and sometimes collections) are bookstores that specialize in literature such as Barnes & Noble or Indigo Books (or smaller shops like Book City). 

Many of these stores have staff who know what they’re talking about when it comes to literature; ask them if they know where their store buys their books from so that you can get copies too!

Immerse yourself in the world of fiction to refine your writing skills and imagination. Discover how reading fiction contributes to your growth as a writer in our article on the benefits of reading fiction for writers.

Create An Author Platform

An author platform is a collection of everything that makes you an expert in your field. It is comprised of the following:

  • A website with your name and contact information, which also features links to your social media accounts (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) and email address.
  • A blog where you can share interesting articles related to your field.
  • An email newsletter that goes out once per week or month and introduces subscribers to new products/services you have created or written about recently.

An author platform lends credibility to you as an expert in the field and helps people find out more about what you do so they can ask questions if necessary.

Publish In Non-Fiction Markets That Aren’t Directed Toward Fiction Writers

The first step to publishing in a non-fiction market is to figure out what they are. Non-fiction markets are publications that publish articles, reviews, how-to guides, and more. 

They may be print or digital and they often have a specific target audience for example, “For Dummies” books or magazines aimed at women’s health issues.

When you publish in a non-fiction market, you’ll need to write an article about something your target audience will find interesting. Your readers will be interested in whether your topic is relevant to them and if you can explain it clearly and concisely (think of all those high school essays). 

Once your article is complete and ready for publication, head over to Mediabistro’s “Find A Magazine” section for links to non-fiction markets around the world (the US only) as well as access to their editorial calendar so you know when each magazine publishes its next issue!

For example, I wrote an article about how my personal experience with loss helped me become more compassionate toward others who were grieving; 

This was published on Parents Magazine’s website which reaches millions of people each month who may be going through similar situations themselves!

Write With Someone Else Or Participate In A Collaborative Story/Storytelling Project

If you can find the right people to collaborate with, writing short stories can be a great way to add new perspectives and ideas to your writing. It’s also a great way to improve your skills by working together with other authors. 

By sharing ideas and collaborating on projects, writers can learn from one another as they help each other edit and critique each other’s work. 

These collaborative experiences can lead writers down new paths and inspire them in ways that might not have been possible if they were working alone.

Share Your Work With Others

When you’re just starting as an author, it’s important to share your work with others so that you can get feedback on what works well in your writing, as well as tips for how it could be improved upon even more. 

You’ll also want advice about how best to submit articles and columns for publication whether through traditional outlets or online outlets like the ones mentioned here.

And which publications are most likely going to accept submissions from first-time authors like yourself (or maybe even encourage such submissions!).

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We hope you have found this guide to writing a short story useful. The best way to improve your skills as an author is to practice and get feedback, so we strongly encourage you to write as much as possible. Good luck!

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources that provide insights on how to publish a short story:

Reedsy: How to Publish a Short Story Short and comprehensive guide offering step-by-step instructions for successfully publishing your short story.

The Write Practice: How to Publish a Short Story Learn the essential tips and strategies for effectively getting your short story published in this informative guide.

MasterClass: How to Get Your Short Story Published Master the art of submitting and getting your short story published with insights from renowned authors and industry experts.


How can I prepare my short story for publication?

Before submitting your short story for publication, ensure that it is polished, well-edited, and follows the submission guidelines of the target publication. Revise and refine your story to make it engaging and free from errors.

What are common submission guidelines for short story publications?

Submission guidelines can vary widely among different publications. They may include specific word limits, formatting requirements, genres accepted, and preferred methods of submission. Always review and adhere to these guidelines before submitting your work.

Should I consider self-publishing my short story?

Self-publishing can be an option if you want more control over the publishing process. However, traditional publishing offers the benefit of wider distribution and access to established readerships.

How do I find suitable publications for my short story?

Research literary magazines, anthologies, and online platforms that align with the genre and style of your short story. Consider factors like the publication’s readership, reputation, and submission opportunities.

What should I include in a cover letter when submitting a short story?

A cover letter should be concise and professional. Include a brief introduction of yourself, a mention of the story’s title and word count, and any relevant writing credentials. Personalize each cover letter for the specific publication.