The Road to Publication · Writing

The Road: Mile 3 – Select a Market (Part 1)

It is at this point, selecting a market to submit your story to, that I’ll slow down and begin to take my time a bit more.  There’s so much that goes into picking what publication to submit your story to, and I’d really like to delve a bit deeper into each aspect.

In today’s post, we’re going to talk Duotrope.

Duotrope, Duotrope, Duotrope.  It is a writer’s best friend.  For those not familiar with this site, it is a “free, searchable list of fiction markets”.  They’ve recently expanded to also list nonfiction markets and poetry markets.

If you haven’t yet, drop over there and create an account (again, free!).  This will allow you the very nifty feature of tracking your submissions.  All you need to do is, after submitting to a particular market, go to the listing for that market (there’s a search feature) and click the button that says “report submission”.  Then when you get a response, be sure to note the date on Duotrope.  This provides wonderful statistics for other writers so we can know how slow or fast a market generally is in responding.

But back to finding a market.

Start out on the main page of Duotrope and click the “Run a Detailed Search” button.  This will open a page with a series of drop down menus.  From there it’s pretty simple – select the most important aspects, including – genre, word count, payment, and print or online publication.  Although they’re cool, it’s generally a good idea not to use the “style” and “subject” options as much as this can severely limit your results.  Below, I’ll go over all those “most important aspects” and the options Duotrope gives.


Genre is easy if you’re writing fantasy or science fiction.  It’s very clear and up front about what it is.  However, what about those ‘regular’ stories just set in the real world about a kid trying to find their puppy or a dad struggling after losing his job?  The only real option for those on Duotrope is “general”.  General pulls up a lot of literary magazines and  college/university journals.  I’ve consistently found it difficult to find regular ‘general’ markets that aren’t literary.

On a side note, the definition of literary fiction is rather complex and often argued and debated about.  Generally speaking, it’s character driven (as opposed to being all about the plot), full of beautiful detail and symbolism.

Here are a few good ‘general’ markets I’ve discovered that aren’t literary fiction markets (or at least not solely): Fiction and Verse, Crossed Out Magazine, Punchnel’s, and Fifth Wednesday Journal.  I’ve only submitted to one of these so far and haven’t heard back yet, so I can’t speak from experience about the process after being accepted for these guys.

Word Count

Some brief definitions for you on the options listed on Duotrope.

Flash Fiction – 1000 words or less

Short Story – 1000 to 7500 words

Novelette – 7500 to 15,000 words

Novella – 15,000 to 40,000 words

Within the category of Flash Fiction, you’ll sometimes see it broken down further (not on Duotrope, but by publishers and writers alike).  Micro-fiction often refers to stories under 500 words, and Drabbles are stories of exactly 100 words in length.  You’ll see markets requesting stories of lengths as low as 6 words.  That’s right – 6 words.  Fleeting Magazine is currently hosting a 6 word story prize (free to enter!) open until September 30th.  You’re allowed to enter up to six stories, so definitely try to scribble something together if you can.  Blink-Ink publishes stories of no more than fifty words (I had a story in their 10th Issue).  Stories of this limited word count are actually extremely difficult, but rewarding to write.  I recommend it to anybody.


Duotrope’s division of markets consist of Non-paying, Token, Semi-Pro and Professional, as well as a separate totem of royalty paying percentages.

Non-Paying – often referred to as “for the luv” markets, sometimes offer contributor copies (print or e-copy)

Token – anything less than a penny per word (markets like Pill Hill Press pay a quarter of a center per word).

Semi-Pro – vary from a penny per word to four point nine cents per word

Professional – five cents a word and up

Print or Online Publication

When I first started out submitting stories (two and a half years ago), I submitted strictly to print publications.  I loved being able to hold a magazine or anthology with my story inside.  I still do!  If you’re thrilled by the thought of this as well, Duotrope has an option to search only for markets that print physical copies.  This does, however, limit the amount of magazines and journals you can submit to.

Electronic publications includes anything from stories posted on a blog/website to PDF and EPUB copies of magazines intended to be read on Kindles, Nooks and other tablets/phones/e-readers.  The benefit of allowing yourself to be published on electronic markets is the world really opens up to you.  There are thousands of online markets.  Some are good, some are a little sketchy (we’ll get into telling the difference in a later post).  Getting your stories published on free-to-read online markets is a good way to get your name out there as well.

At a later date, I’ll dig more into the print versus online publication deal a bit better.  I will say that sometime last year I decided to start submitting to online publications and I’ve had a lot of success and met a lot of wonderful people through that decision.


After you fill in all the search parameters and hit the search button, Duotrope will pull up a big list for ya.  And that’s just the beginning.  I’m going to stop here for now, but next time I’ll discuss more decisions you’ll need to make regarding the act of selecting a market (mainly, the issue of payment).

Thanks again for reading and following along.  As a side note, there are other search engines, most notably Ralan’s – a listing of speculative fiction markets (science fiction, fantasy, horror, etc).

Now I’ll once again open things up to you.  Have you used Duotrope before or have you never heard of it?  If you use it, do you report your submissions there or just find markets?  Any particular awesome markets you’ve stumbled across through Duotrope?  Any Ralan’s fans out there?

Looking forward to next time!



Duotrope’s glossary containing the definitions in greater detail – here.  


5 thoughts on “The Road: Mile 3 – Select a Market (Part 1)

  1. I agree, it’s very difficult to narrow things down when you’re searching for somewhere to submit general fiction stories. Something I’ve found helpful in Duotrope that you didn’t mention is the Ignore/Favorites lists, especially the comments part. If I find a listing I like, I can write exactly what it accepts – 250 word flash, dark horror, etc. And same with why I ignore it – pay to submit, have to be from a certain region, specific audience, etc. Then when I have a story I’m trying to place, I can easily look at my comments and find a publication more quickly than if I had to go through the entire list each time.

    1. Excellent tip! I rarely use the favorite/ignore list, but I think I might have to change that now. 😀 Currently, I use a series of bookmarks in designated genre folders, but your way sounds a lot easier.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s