More on pub credits

Dear Miss Snark,

I don’t usually write short stories, but recently one popped out fully baked, much to my surprise, and it is quite good. It’s a literary psychological suspense story.

I’m an unpubbed writer. I’m querying agents with a humorous crime novel, and working on a literary crime novel.

I’d like to send my short story to some magazines/journals for consideration. Which magazines would make the best publication credit to dress up my query letters for either the current or the new book? I’d like to start by sending it out to the top magazine and then work my way down the list.

Well, then you start with the New Yorker of course. And the Paris Review.

However, you're over analyzing this.

I'm not going to pass on reading your stuff if you're published in Spinetingler rather than the New Yorker. I like Spinetingler just fine. And Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine too. Neither one is the New Yorker, and they don't ever say they are.

All three of them though have exactly what I'm looking for in a pub credit: someone other than your mom who thinks you don't suck. If I've heard of the magazine, great. If I haven't, I'll google it. I find all sorts of good mags and zines from query letters.

Don't worry about the best place for your stuff. Just get it published by a magazine with editorial oversight and a web presence that gives me confidence.


Maria said...

And get started early. The New Yorker takes 3 months to reply and you cannot submit elsewhere while waiting. AHMM takes a minimum of 4 months, no sub-sims. Ellery Queen is the fastest, but that can take anywhere from one month to four depending on how busy they are--usually it's three.

There are only a few other paying markets for mystery shorts, but those are the biggest and certainly the best paying.

Need it be said that competition is stiff?

Sherry Decker said...

I'd definitely try Hitchcock's because they actually pay fairly well (8-cents per word) and, it's a decent credit. However, Maria is right - it can take up to seven months to get an acceptance from Hitchcock. Ellery Queen pays less but is a good credit, too. Good luck.

Sherry Decker said...

Oh, and if you think it can stand extreme competition, try Zoetrope.

Sandra Ruttan said...

I would just like to thank Miss Snark for the link to Spinetingler and the high compliment.

Depending on the time of year, we're filled anywhere from 4-6 months ahead of an issue. The competition for publishing short stories is extreme, in all venues.

Dana Y. T. Lin said...

Yes, and the Spinetingler staff are all very professional, personable, and very helpful to newbie writers.

Anonymous said...

OK, I have to ask. Do people really not submit simultaneously? With such high rejection rates it would take many years to shop a short story around. I understand not wanting to disappoint the editors at the New Yorker when you have pull something from consideration but come on...

Miss Snark said...

Yo, Anon.

Most writers have a wardrobe of short stories. Thus, they send A to the New Yorker, and B to the Paris Review and C to Miss Snark's Zine for Wayard Wordz, and so on.

You don't "pull" a story from the New Yorker cause you sold it somewhere else unless you are a true and complete nitwit.

roque said...

I'm glad to see the "submit to the New Yorker first and work your way down" idea didn't get ridiculed. Richard Bausch always gives that advice and I've always followed it.

Anonymous said...

This is interesting, snarklings. Anybody else have magazines to recommend? There are so many cool ones out there, speaking as a reader, but here is no way to know who is good to work with, from a writer's point of view -- completely aside from the question of whether the money's any good.

Sandra Ruttan said...


I echo what Miss Snark has already said, and will add this. Spinetingler used to allow simultaneous submissions. We stopped when a writer sold us first publication rights on a story, signed appropriate release, etc. and then sold the same rights to another publishing venue. The other publisher wasn't very happy and initially came after us, until they realized all our paperwork was in order.

The writer got blackballed from two publications as a result. Truth is, if anyone submits, up until the moment we've assessed their work and sent out an acceptance or rejection letter, they can pull it and I won't get worked up about it. We have so many submissions our next issue is a double issue. Otherwise, we would have been filled until into 2007 by May - I already have stuff booked to Spring 2007 as it is, although the Winter issue isn't filled completely - and that's with already increasing our issue sizes this year. Obviously for us, submissions haven't been a problem.

But if we do the assessment and the editorial team reviews it and makes a decision, if at that point someone pulls their story, they're on my list. I will not ask a volunteer staff of editors to read, critique or edit work by people who've wasted their time in the past - it isn't fair to the editorial team.

And, while with many ezines don't have the credibility of print magazines, editors still talk. I was recently at Harrogate Crime Festival and was amazed at the number of publishers/agents/editors who read our ezine, and a name did come up in conversation with an editor, of someone who had earned a bit of a reputation with us. If you sufficiently annoy an editor, you risk getting a reputation in this business and you never know how much damage that might do.

The very best thing to do is follow the guidelines. If you're going to simultaneously submit your work, despite what the publication says, state that when you submit. In our case, I'd honestly say that if we knew the name of the person and that their work was always quality, we might still look at it. Otherwise, we'd discard it. Again, it just goes to asking people to invest time in something that likely won't pan out - until we have enough revenue to pay our editorial team, I don't think that's fair to them.

And in all honestly, the print venues get so many submissions, having another writer they won't touch is probably a bit of a relief.

Good luck!

sex scenes at starbucks said...

First of all you've got to read-read-read every magazine you can find and figure out where your story fits. Nothing is more annoying to an editor than reading a story that does not fit the magazine's criteria.

Never discount the Ezine option either, like Mistress Snark says. Many of them have the specific goal of furthering new writers' careers, because many of the editors have their own fledgling careers. They love to discover new talent and they give up precious writing time to read and edit stories just for the love of the thing. I know, because I am such an editor.

Glad to hear you mention Spinetingler. I sold my first story to them. They've got a fabulous E-zine and a solid editorial staff.

I also love the New Yorker, read it religiously, and have my share of rejections from them, but did you get a load of that story a few months back with the talking monkey? Something was lost in translation with that one. Still, they can buy a story of mine anytime.

Maria said...

Miss Snark is correct again! Most writers have several shorts out at one time because yes, it could take you years to get through the process otherwise.

Many other forums and interviews with editors have mentioned that the world is small and yes, writers do get blackballed for double submitting or pulling a story at an inappropriate time. I've also read that many magazines start out accepting sim-subs--and they inevitably get burned and change their guidelines. (Once again, there are more stories than mags need, pure and simple economics. They'd like to be nice, but they'd also like to get through the slush and not find out that their time was wasted because a piece is no longer available.)

Life is not fair, but as Miss Snark suggested, the best way to deal with it is to have 40 or so shorts to send out.

For speculative fiction www.Ralan.com has a wonderful list of venues along with some reply time info. I haven't found a really good list for mystery magazines, but then, I don't think there are as many either.

The writer who asked the question said...

Thanks as always Miss Snark for answering my question.

And thanks to anonymous for asking about whether editors really MEAN no simultaneous submissions, because, as a newbie to this process, I was secretly wondering this too. And thanks to the editors and others who answered that question.

I will start with the New Yorker and work down (why not?) and I will submit to only one at a time.

Short Story Writer said...

Other great lit mags:

Iron Horse
Missouri Review
Open City
Harpur's Palate
Northwest Review
Gulf Coast
Black Warrior Review
The Iowa Review
New England Review
Post Road
Prairie Schooner
Story Quarterly
Tin House
Virginia Quarterly Review

This is only a partial list, but all these magazines are highly respected, highly competitive, and publish work that (I think) is regularly better than the stuff in the New Yorker and the Paris Review.

Short Story Writer said...

Caveat: a few of these magazines pay a little something other than a couple of author copies. Most do not. If you want to make a living as a writer, you absolutely can't do it publishing literary short stories piecemeal unless your name happens to be Alice Munroe.