To Market, To Market?


I was looking at where to submit my latest story today, and I began thinking, What criteria does a writer use to select which markets to submit to?

Is it just payment? Well, no. I’ve known established writers to submit to non-paying markets simply because they liked the look of them. I myself have occasionally seen a market and, becoming obsessed with it, written a story specifically, despite the pay. Of course, professional paying markets matter if you live off your short fiction or you want to apply to the SFWA/HWA, but not if you write simply for the love of it.

Is it exposure? This, too, is a difficult one, because a short story magazine with a distribution of 1000 or so doesn’t provide much exposure to someone like Clive Barker. Furthermore, why would he need further exposure anyway? Surely his readers know of him and new readers who’re looking for genre work will know to consider him.

Perhaps it’s being ‘part of the club’. If you’re published at a given venue, you become part of a cabal of writers who have all been published there. Appearing alongside writers you admire, or in a beautifully designed and highly selective magazine is always a good thrill, whether or not you need the exposure. So perhaps all writing is selfish and all publishing is vanity, but this probably comes as no news to most writers, who’ve secretly been hiding this info from the rest of the world and making them dependend on us for, well, everything 😀

About the Author:

Shaun Duke is an aspiring writer, a reviewer, and an academic. He is currently a graduate student at the University of Florida studying science fiction, postcolonialism, posthumanism, and fantasy.

2 thoughts on “To Market, To Market?

  1. Now that I think of it, most of my submissions go to markets that are nice to look at it (not that they have to be visually bombastic; simple lines are fine, as long as the website doesn’t look like it was built in an hour by someone who had never used a computer before). That said, I don’t submit to markets that don’t pay — I feel like it doesn’t count then, and I’ve submitted to markets that look kind of amateurish if stories haven’t sold elsewhere.

  2. Well technically speaking non-paying markets don’t count. However, if you were published in one that was rather prominent (there have been a few that were run as charities, which proves good for one’s career), editors may think better of it. But the SFWA doesn’t give a fig about charities and what not. It cares about the value of the sale according to its guidelines for membership.

    As for me, yes, I submit to paying markets only. That’s right now, though. There may come a point where I have so many things out there that I won’t have any choice :P.

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