As you work on your novel (for NaNoWriMo or other reasons),
your publishing credits can seem few and far between. Why not make time in your
writing schedule to tap into the “short” markets to keep your credits flowing?
Writing Tip for Today: Here are some ideas for generating
short-term credits while you finish your long-term project:
Stories from Life
Even if you’re a literary writer, don’t rule out writing for
anthologies such as Chicken Soup or Guideposts. You can mine your life for stories
to fit the call-out for submissions, and if your work is published you’ll get
This type of credit is even more important for those still
chasing publication. You can add a credit from short markets like Chicken Soup
to queries—it tells agents and editors that you are a serious writer who has
learned the protocol and etiquette for publication.
If you want to try your hand at these personal essays, visit the website and know the audience and the guidelines before you submit. Some sites, like Chicken Soup, publish a list of books/topics for which they are recruiting submissions, and you can simply follow the instructions. Other publications have different requirements, so be sure to follow the guidelines. Guideposts is a market for faith-based writers and sometimes the submissions are agented only.
Read All About It
Newspapers are another possibility that writers often find
open to submissions. If you check out the editorial page of a newspaper, you
may find a home for that opinion piece you’ve written. In news, length is often
shorter so be ready to edit your efforts down to the specific word count the
paper can run.
Other publications that take short pieces include women’s or
religious magazines (many are now online, so be sure to check out what is out
there), sports or regional, and parenting mags or ezines. The mags you leaf
through in the checkout line are almost always highly competitive, but you may
get a foothold in a smaller publication. Some national publications and
periodicals still run fillers, short anecdotes or helpful hints, and many will
pay. Just think—a filler in the New Yorker looks great on a publishing resume.
Contest the Evidence
An excerpt from a work in progress (WIP) or a short story
entered into a writing contest might be just what your credit corner needs.
Look for free or low-fee contests—if the entry is more than $25, I’d skip it.
You don’t want to fall prey to a contest that is trying to sell you on its
You can simply Google “free writing contests” to find
competitions. Most writing organizations also hold annual contests. Mags such
as Writer’s Digest still hold yearly contests, but they also are pretty
hard-sell on their products so be aware.
If you are looking for a fiction contest in your genre,
check out the annual Amazon Breakthrough Novel competition through CreateSpace.
If your work survives to one of the last rounds, you’ll have agents’ and
Overall, writing short while you finish your longer project
or novel keeps you in the submission game and helps develop your professional
skills in publication. Write essays, anecdotes, op-eds or enter contests and
you may earn some green while going for the gold.