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Monday, July 25, 2011

A Few Observations on Short Story Markets

Some observations from the search for markets last week:

1) There aren't many (paying) magazine markets for short stories. There have been quite a few that have closed over the last few years and the new ones that have opened to replace them generally don't pay. I've had more luck finding paying anthologies than paying magazines.
2) Professional-rate short story markets are in short supply.
3) There are a lot of flash fiction markets popping up, paying and otherwise (sadly, I don't write flash).
4) Very, very few paying markets accept reprints.

I'm saddened by the lack of short story markets, not just from a writer's perspective, but as a reader. I've always preferred a nice anthology of short stories. Each story is small enough to enjoy in a few stolen minutes (or stolen hour) of reading. You get a variety of writing voices, a variety of settings, a variety of characters . . . it's like enjoying a good buffet.

And you'd think with all the proclamations of "society has a shorter attention span these days," the short story market would be booming. But I guess that's why the flash fiction market is growing. Sadly, flash just isn't my thing. My average short story length is around 2500 words, with the minimum usually being 1500. I've written a few 1000 word pieces, but those are rare.

I'm not even a fan of reading flash. I'll admit I've only read a few, but those few left me feeling unsatisfied--like a sample of a meal with no meal to follow, or a "healthy-eating-lite" portion, lol. Not that flash is bad, of course, I just don't think I'll ever be a fan. Some people like light meals, some people like feasts, and some people like buffets. I'm a buffet person who enjoys the occasional feast.

These observations all came about because I was looking for a market for a reprint. Now it looks like I'm down to three choices:
1) Self-publish it;
2) Put it up as a freebie on my website;
3) Try and find a home for it at a non-paying market and break my rule of submitting to paying publishers only (though, technically, it was originally published in a paying market.)

I'm just not sure what I'm going to do with it yet.

And last week's depressing "too few markets" realization was counterbalanced by the happy realization that I have more time on my hands than I thought:  I had to update my Goodreads 2011 Challenge. I originally set a goal of reading 18 books this year because I didn't think I was reading very much--or at least, not as much as I'd like. When you think about it, it's a book-and-a-half per month, and it sounds like a lot. Or at least it feels like a lot to my over-packed schedule. I feel like I never have enough time to read. But I guess those stolen moments really add up, because I hit my goal of 18 books last week. So now I've upgraded the challenge to reading 24 books this year.

So if I can read two to three novels a months on stolen moments, how many short stories/novel scenes could  you write in your stolen moments? Food for thought.


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