A writer writes … everything!
An artist has the best chance of success by becoming eclectic and versatile in their art.
I often get asked by novelists and book authors how to prepare and submit short stories and nonfiction articles to magazines and literary journals. It doesn’t matter if these individuals are established and published or less than so; yet, I’m surprised how often even seasoned authors are clueless to getting shorter works published.
Adhere to standard formats for these works. I suggest studying the Writers Digest articles at http://www.writersdigest.com/tip-of-the-day/how-to-submit-short-stories-formatting-basics.
My first article published was a piece for a Ricoh Company newsletter out of Irvine California in the early 90s. It concerned a whimsical sidebar about earthquakes and the Nordic mythology of Loki being the culprit. The newsletter enjoyed publishing the piece because of the concern of employees of experiencing earthquakes in the area. It was fun! However, this piece was published because I knew staff members in the company and proposed the piece face-to-face. Company newsletters and trade journals often are the easiest to break into, if you know where to look and what to write for them. They may also pay well for relevant articles pertinent to their business, products, and services in addition to granting the writer a byline. Approach the company you work for as a day job if they publish a newsletter would be the easiest way to break into print. You can also approach a magazine or trade journal and ask for a byline on spec.
Another great way to publish nonfiction articles for magazines is to write about your hobbies. My second nonfiction article was insight into researching treasure trove leads for a metal detecting magazine, Lost Treasure (“Reading Between the Lines: Researching Unknown or Little Known Treasure Leads”, November 2001). I was paid the princely sum of $50! So, consider your hobbies as a way to write and find a published byline! You might be an expert in that field and your methods and insights can be invaluable to others who share the same passion.
Short stories are NOT harder to write than a novel! I’m surprised how often I come across established book authors shaking their heads and telling me that they never give thought to writing short fiction because they lacked the discipline and the drive. Writing short fiction is one of the best ways of establishing a platform as a book author. It takes practice and discipline, just as any art work will. After you have written your piece and had it proofread and ready to submit to market, get a copy of the current Writers Digest Writer’s Market or Literary Marketplace, or any publication that promotes contact information on literary journals and literary magazines. There are a multitude of these out there, both offering hard copies and/or digital publications online. My favorite list is the markets offered by the magazine Poets & Writers: http://www.pw.org/literary_magazines?&perpage=*
Short stories and magazine articles are truly an excellent way of garnering published credits. Literary agents and publishing houses often peruse these markets for up-and-coming authors that strike them as interesting. These magazines often submit your work for literary awards too!
Study the magazine and literary journal subscriptions you might already have.
Submit often and keep an eye on guidelines these markets offer, especially reading periods and word length. They can be restrictive – so if the magazine only reads between June-December, don’t submit in March. If they only want flash fiction up to 200 words, don’t try to sell them your 3000-word short story.
Be eclectic and versatile! You will find greater success in today’s publishing world and – there is no equating the feeling of a self-published work to a piece that someone else believes in and has taken on!