One of the comments I got for the cozy mystery Malice in Morro Bay asked about my strategy for sending stories to traditional publications versus indie publications. I’m straddling both.

Basic Requirement

Any story going to a traditional source must pay at least .05 a word. That’s a little under the pro rate of .06 a word.

I pass on a lot simply because they don’t meet that threshhold.

And I did used to submit to non-paying magazines because they were easier to get into. People would say, “money must flow to the writer,” and in the same breath say you needed to build up credits. That’s probably why we see a lot of token payments. One of the calls I saw wanted 10K and up and was only paying $10!

So any resource that’s paying a pittance isn’t going to get more than a passing glance.

The Strategy

I make a list of themed anthology calls and establish a “soft date.” The soft date is a deadline I pick before the call closes.

Not every paying anthology ends up on this list. There’s been some calls I don’t qualify for, and some that are on political topics. That I don’t get. It would satisfy some immediate need, but six months later, you can’t can do anything else with the story. Book might not even sell.

When the soft date pops up, I write the story and send it to the call. Or in the case of Spooner’s Cove, it didn’t quiet meet the theme. If I’d waited until the last minute, I wouldn’t have been able to write Lake of Whispers, which was a more solid hit on the theme.

But why not magazines? There are certainly pro markets out there. The basic reason:

They take a long time to respond.

Anthologies generally will respond pretty quickly after they close. Even the Writer’s of the Future Contest responds quickly (though you have to send it near the closing date).

But I had one story stuck in a magazine’s backlog. It was on Submittable , so I checked the status and it was still waiting for someone to look at it–a YEAR after I submitted it. I finally withdrew the story and indie published it.

So most of my submissions have been to anthologies. But I also want to get more out there for indie. The more available, more opportunities for discovery.