From Sarah, With Joy

*Poet * Author * Wanderluster*

Monday, July 2, 2012

So I wrote this thing and now what?

If you write every day, that's a lot of words. Maybe most of it is geared towards a bigger novel project, but what about all those other, smaller projects like poems and short stories and flash fiction and maybe just a creative essay of your thoughts? What do you do with those?

It's been on my mind, because I want to write lots and lots and experiment with all types of genre and form and subject. I've come up with five main routes to go with the pieces that turn out well enough to publish:

1. Literary magazines. This is for your top-notch work. There are magazines for every type of project imaginable, so if your proud of your work, don't be afraid to submit. The best places I know of to find magazines are Duotrope and NewPages.

2. Competitions. Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems like competitions give you the chance to submit to places you wouldn't be able to submit to otherwise. It also comes with a money prize, prestige and potential connections. For writing contests check out Poets and Writers and FreelanceWriting.

3. Self-Publish. There is so much being said about this option, whether its a good or bad one, how one goes about doing it in the first place. My point here is just to say, it's an option. Definitely do your research if you decide to go this route. That goes for every option, but this one in particular. If you have a poetry collection, short story anthology or novella that you just want to get out there, this might be a good way to go.

4. Small Press. This is one I haven't seriously considered until recently, and so my research on it is less extensive than the others. However, while you're querying agents and trying to go the traditional big publishing route, this might be a good choice for the collection of short stories you've been wondering what to do with. There are quite a few small presses that accept unagented submissions, and it might just turn out to be a wonderful experience. You never know until you try.

5. Blog. I've seen several people post short stories and even entire novels via blogs. Honestly this isn't my favorite option, but I can see some uses. If you have a short little something you came up with, incomplete but promising, putting it up on a blog might be a fun way to get some feedback. Maybe the piece doesn't go anywhere or turn into anything, but you can apply the comments you receive to your writing in general, hopefully improving it as you go.

So yeah, while I'm trying for the slow traditional big-publishing route, which I really want, these are other good options to keep in mind for my other projects. Throughout my writing career I would love to use every single one.

Which options are your favorite, and can you think of any I missed? How do you decide which option is best for any given piece?

Sarah Allen


  1. Good morning, Sarah!

    I'm doing the Indie route. And I love doing competitions. Mostly to find out what my writing weaknesses are. And I'd love to do a some Fan Fiction but haven't attempted it yet. It's just a thought.


  2. I need to look more into competitions--sounds fun! I've been toying around with a short story idea these days. Hope your writing's going well!

  3. I love competitions, until I don't win (like I didn't today). I've also had stories published in literary/small press journals. Although the journal route has been less fruitful over the years. Online journals are becoming more prolific than print - cheaper to produce and more readership, I suppose.

  4. Contests, depending on the format, can strengthen your writing too if it involves any feedback from the judges. I joined Romance Writers of America this year -- something I never thought I'd ever say b/c I don't write "romance" but I do write YA with relationships and what they say is "romantic elements -- and RWA local chapters across the U.S. host editor and agent judged contests.

    The RWA contests all require a submission fee (anywhere from $10 up to $30, and for most you don't have to be an RWA national member), which I am fine with. The money goes to the local chapter, and everyone organizing, reading through submissions etc is doing that on their own dime anyway. I also think it rules out eager writers who want to spam a bunch of contests who might not put as much time into editing as if you have a monetary investment.

    I did one RWA contest before I knew anything about the organization and was so touched by the feedback form I received afterward; specific comments about my story that 2 readers took the time to write out for me. The RWA website has a link for chapter contests if anyone is interested (note: I do not profit from this in any way! Just sharing!)

  5. E-zines.

    If you have a bunch of short stories that are good but don't make the cut for literary journals, look into getting published by an e-zine.

    There are e-zines for just about every conceivable genre out there today. Most don't pay, but they are great way to build up a solid writing bio.

    While I'm very small peanuts when it comes to getting short stories published in e-zines (two in three years), I know a lot of other writers who have gotten a slew of stories published that way and used the e-zine as a stepping stone to getting novels published.

  6. I don't write much short form so that limits my options a bit but I have tried my luck at a couple competitions. Still hoping to go the traditional route.

  7. I like the competition angle. That wasn't really on my radar. Thanks for the links.

  8. Sarah,

    Thanks for posting a list of the options. This helps me a lot considering I post my shorts on my blog. My goal isn't to get those small pieces published (although, that would be great), but to keep my writing in peak shape while I'm waiting to hear back from agents and publishers.

    I find writing to be similar to staying fit. You've got to keep working at it; do it daily, and do it often.

    Thanks again for the alternate options! I'll definitely be looking into them further.

    Anna Soliveres


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