What to Know About Promoting a Culture of Reading Stories Published in the Short Fiction Community…and Submitting to Magazines By Best Fit

What to Know About Promoting a Culture of Reading Stories Published in the Short Fiction Community…and Submitting to Magazines By Best Fit

I recently read an X post between a harried magazine editor and a submitter who told him most authors shot gunned their submissions and didn’t have time to read the stories of every magazine to see if theirs would fit. The editor’s priceless (paraphrased) response was if you can’t be bothered to read my journal, I can’t be bothered to publish you. Viewers undoubtedly chuckled at the post, but it also drew several likes and comments.

Shot Gunning Submissions Exposes A Writing Community Hot Spot

Writers who don’t take the time to read stories published in the short fiction community risk falling into a transactional mindset of submit, gain acceptance or rejection, and move on to the next publisher. But writing and reading go hand-in-hand. When authors intentionally read short fiction, they engage in entertainment and enjoyment of words, expand craft knowledge, and get valuable insights into journals to help them publish based on the best fit.

Set Attainable Reading Goals

Authors write so someone will read their words and hopefully enjoy them. Online magazines make reading stories easy. Start with attainable goals to build a reading habit. For example, read a drabble, flash fiction, or short story from a new magazine at lunch or before bed once or twice a week. Slowly increase reading days. Banish the analytical editor when reading for fun; open the mind, and let a story’s visual delights take hold. Reading builds quite a story vault, so seed it with assorted genres and styles.

Read to Achieve Craft Expertise

Book authors read dozens if not hundreds, of novels (with a craft list in hand) before attempting a manuscript. A novelist knows reading books will increase their skills. Similarly, habitual short story reading (with a craft list in hand) increases skills. Authors will identify the skills that are quality over time, helping them understand what makes good writing good. Keep a list of favorite stories on hand for writing inspiration.

Read to Submit Stories by Best Fit

Reading stories from new journals each week will help authors develop a feel for the magazine’s brand, style, skill level, and readership. Authors will understand where their work fits the best in multiple magazines, and this knowledge builds confidence. When submitting a story, take a time-out from shot gunning and try this: submit to the top five best fits first and await their reply. Revise rejection stories and send them to the subsequent best fits. Repeat until a story is successful.

Wrapping Up, But Wait! There’s More…

Competition is fierce in publishing, but promoting a culture of reading in the short fiction community will expel the transactional publishing mindset. Reading for pleasure and craft knowledge inspires writers and sheds light on magazine brands, styles, and audiences, which makes it easier to submit stories by best fit. Are you feeling bold? Share the stories you read on your favorite social media platform with a note: #flashfiction (#drabble/#shortstory) by @[name] is meltworthy. #mustread today!  



Rhonda Schlumpberger is the founder and EIC of Intrepidus Ink, a magazine of intrepid culture: danger, struggle, emotion, and overcoming through Alarmingly Individual characters and Gutsy Words. She writes contemporary literature and speculative fiction; her stories appear in Space and Time Magazine, New Flash Fiction ReviewAll Worlds Wayfarer IX & XV, Misery Tourism, other online magazines, and anthologies such as When the World Stopped and Like Sunshine After Rain, edited by Heidi Ruby Miller. She holds an MA in English and Creative Writing and an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction. Her best advice concerns coffee selections: be fearless. On X @intrepidusink.

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*We accept all categories of fiction, including genre and literary fiction, with the exception of horror, children's literature, erotica, nonfiction, and poetry.
Flash Fiction: 300 — 1000 Words.
Short Stories: 1,500 — 2,500 Words.
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