With the social distancing, we’re all experiencing, now is the perfect time to write and submit short stories. They’re much smaller and much easier to manage projects if your attention span is struggling.
I’ve spent the last few weeks wrestling with the overload of information, cutting off news from most of my social media. I’ve been trying to write several stories, including one for a deadline today. I ended up redrafting a story that got rejected because I’d done an experiment with pacing that didn’t work.
When should you submit?
I’m pretty sure that most calls with deadlines that close get them either upfront or at the last minute. You probably want to more in the middle.
I had a story in with one magazine when another call popped up that the story, Cartographer of Fortunes, was perfect for. The first magazine did a form reject, so I squeaked into the second magazine’s submission window with a day to spare.
I got a personal rejection. The editor loved the story and would have accepted it—but he already had nearly all the stories he could use. I was too late!
Read the Guidelines
Review the guidelines to make sure you checked all the boxes off. You’ve got the right genre, the right topic, and that the manuscript is formatted properly.
Writers have gotten into petty snits over fonts. The editor wants Courier New (okay, maybe not likely anymore). The writer hates Courier New and wants to use Garmond.
Just follow the magazine’s rules. They’re the ones looking for stories so they make the rules.
Make sure also that you include your name, address, and email on the first page of the manuscript. If the story is accepted, you just made it easier for the editor to do the contract.
The Cover Letter
This was always something I worried about. I thought it mattered more than it did. You just need a simple template:
Dear (Editor Name, pasted in from the site):
Attached is my 3,000-word science fiction short story, “Title of Story,” for your consideration.
Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.
If the guidelines request any additional information, just put it after the first paragraph.
Most importantly is to let the story fly.
What’s the most interesting story submission you’ve done.
X Marks the Spot is available for Preorder. It’ll be out on April 15.
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