Five Tips for Writing and Selling Short Fiction

This is a guest post by author Michael Young. Michael’s short work Portrait of a Mother isavailableto buy now. Visit Michael’s author blog for a chance to win your very own copy of Portrait of a Mother.

Short fiction can be an excellent way to gain a readership and hone your writing skills. It has the advantage of not taking as much time as writing a novel and can get you into print sooner. There are, however, certain things to keep in mind that differentiate writing short fiction from writing other forms.

1. Different types of short fiction.

Before you write, you should be aware of the different lengths of short fiction. These typically include flash fiction (about 300 ““ 1000 words), short stories, (about 1000 ““ 7500 words), novelette (20,000 – 25,000 words). Anything longer than that could be considered a novella or a novel. Be sure to check the place you want to submit to see what kinds of short fiction. They are interested in. Different markets will pay you differently, but the convention is to pay you by the word and so length guidelines are very important.

2. Go with only the essentials.

Often short fiction has strict word counts. You need to accept the fact that you are simply not going to be able to include all sorts of things you can include in a novel. When planning short story, only plan the absolute minimum number of characters, situations and descriptions. Started the middle the story and don’t worry so much about back story. Cut down descriptions to what is absolutely necessary

3. Follow the submission/formatting guidelines.

Your short fiction will not have a very good chance of being accepted, if you don’t follow the markets submission guidelines. These vary from market to market, but generally include about a 12 point font, doubled spaced, 1 inch margins with your contact information somewhere at the top. Make sure you know whether the market accepts electronic submissions and whether simultaneous submissions are allowed.

4. Find the proper market.

There are many ways to find markets for your short fiction. Often, magazines will have guidelines posted. An excellent site to find just the right market for your short piece is You can use its search engine to filter out only certain kinds of markets and view all sorts of statistics about that market and be linked to their website and submission guidelines. It even let you track where you have submitted their responses.

5. Be constantly submitting and constantly working on something.

Just like with full-length fiction, they’re going to be many rejections. However, the best thing to do is to always be submitting your work, and always working on something new. Once you have sent something off, get started right away on something else. The more pieces you have, the better your writing will get and the better chance you’ll have of seeing your work in print.

One thought on “Five Tips for Writing and Selling Short Fiction

  • August 30, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    5. Be constantly submitting and constantly working on something.

    Best advice I have ever heard.

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