Any authors with advice?

OK, here’s the deal. I’ve always enjoyed writing immensely, and lately I’ve had a lot of story ideas swimming around in my head. I wrote a short fiction story a few months ago, and I think it turned out to be a pretty good read. I now have a novel length idea floating around that I plan on putting down on paper. No, I don’t want to “quit my day job” and become a famous author. I just want to write the stories that are in my head and maybe “self publish” them or submit some shorter stories to magazines or on-line publications.

My questions:
Who/where can I submit a story for a constructive critique? I don’t have an “editor”, and I’m interested in having someone else read my stuff and suggest changes. My plan is to join a few local writing clubs. Is there anywhere on-line that I can do this?

Who/where can I submit a short story (horror genre) in the hopes of having it published? I’ve searched for places, but I thought some dopers may have some known places where I may get published.
Am I crazy? I enjoy writing very much, and when I’m doing it, I get very caught up in the story. It just flows from my fingers to the paper/screen, and I usually don’t know exactly where it’s going until it gets there. All I want is to do some good writing, have it enjoyed, and maybe make a buck or two (even small bucks).

Thanks in advance for any advice! I feel excited about starting my actual novel, and I’d like to move forward with submitting my short stories.


Zette, honey, I’d be happy to read your work and offer constructive criticism. As a professional writer/editor I help people with their writing all the time.

One site I’ve found very helpful is They have all kinds of resources for writers.

As for where to submit your short fiction, the best favor you can do yourself is to go to the bookstore and pick up a copy of Writer’s Market. It will list thousands of magazines, with notes on what kind of submissions they like, what they pay, contact info, etc.

Cheffie, you rock! Thanks!



Orson Scott Card helps run an on-line writer’s workshop. I’ve been in it for a little over a month now and it’s working out pretty well. 4-6 people in a group, rotate submissions on a weekly basis, and you stick with it for a year. It gives fellow writers a chance to critique your stories before you try submitting them to an actual editor for publication.

Please forgive me for dumping this bucket of rain upon your hopes and dreams, but good luck.

I do some writing and I think I’m pretty good, but the area I write in (fantasy and science fiction) seems packed with submissions. I’ve got a great stack of rejection slips. I’m thinking of self publishing but that costs around 5K, plus you have to find ways to promote your own work to get it into stores. You can use a ‘Vanity Press’, which, for a fee, will publish and somewhat promote your work.

It is darn hard for a new writer to break into the market these days. Better brush up on your rights as an author and learn of copywrite laws. The Writers Digest will tell you about them. I’m copywritten, but not published. (Big deal.)

I wish you luck.

I had something “published” (read, “non-paying”) at , a web Zine. The publisher is always looking for material. She will probably be happy to look at your stuff, and possibly also help you to gain a larger and more conventional audience.

If this is more of a hobby than a profession (definitely true for me), a good place to start.


Zette, are you familiar with *Cemetery Dance *magazine? I’ve had some dealings with them in the past. I’m not sure what their submission policy is, but if you’re into the horror genre, it looks like it’s the place to go.

Everyone’s given good advice, but no one’s mentioned local writer’s groups. I’ve belonged to several, over time. Check with your local library (three of the groupos I know of met at local libraries) or local colleges. There’s a great advantage to face-to-face comment. If there isn’t a group, you might want to start one.

Let us know how you do. I still haven’t been able to place my fiction.

Zette, my comments may or may not pertain to you but…

I, too, enjoy writing and also tend to have lots of ideas floating around in my head. I also happen to have an itch to perform. Also like you, I have no desire to quit the day job, but I really needed an outlet for my creative urges. I eventually combined my two passions and became an oral storyteller. I tell traditional as well as original stories in a variety of settings and have established a modest reputation in my area. Schools, libraries, churchs, civic organizations; you name it - there’s no limit on the venues that will give you a chance and an audience. The majority of my gigs are gratis, but occasionally I am offered money to perform and well, that’s the cat’s ass! Oral storytelling also offers immediate feedback and helps develop the ablility to do “on-the-spot” rewrites if you feel your audience slipping away. Humorous stories are my favorite, but ghost stories run a close second.

May not be for you, but thought I’d mention it just in case you too had a bit of the thespian in you as well. At any rate I wish you luck in pursuing your passion!

Hi Zette,

I’ve had a very modest amount of success (and many rejections) doing nature essays and some humor. I currently have one in the box to cool off before yet another rewrite and am thinking about another which might or might not hit the keyboard.

The first thing you should do is get an up to date copy of Writer’s Market. A copy can be found at your local library, but it will probably be out of date. Also, Writer’s Guide can be found there.

This will give you not only the various places to publish, but guide lines on formating and so forth. Also, there are magazines that will publish your work, if accepted, unpaid. That is, you get the byline, but no $$.

There are also guide lines on submitting the all-important query letter.

Also, all of the Vanity Press’ are listed, but unless you are writing a novel or a collection, they’re really not practical.

Keep the Pen sharp,

You guys are great! I love the oral storytelling idea- I am a natural storyteller, and I’ll know they have “storytime” at our local Barnes and Noble. Since I’m now temporarily unemployed, perhaps I’ll check that out.

All of the other suggestions are great, including the “bucket of rain”. Rejection slips don’t bother me. I am really after the thrill of creating and sharing, not money. I would like my stories published for the purpose of having others read them, and if someone wants to give me money, well great!

I will print out this thread and start my research. I’ll let you guys know what happens. Maybe we should have a SDMB writers club?


I’m in, if we do.

SDMB Aspiring Authors:

If I may, I’d like to recommend to you a little tome currently residing somewhere on your local bookseller’s shelves.

On Writing… by none other that little Stevie (Watch that van!) King.

He discusses the the process of writing and drafting he uses as well as provides an excellent “process of getting published.” It’s also explains a lot about his subject matter.

I’m a step ahead of you. I just finished it last night. I agree- it’s wonderfully written with some great advice. I love King anyway, and he points out a lot of pitfalls to avoid (which, upon re-reading my recent short story I realized I had), a few publishing ideas, and some grammar pointers.

I like the way he’s not like “Oh, you’ll NEVER make it in this business- go back to computing or cooking or something”. He just says “tell the story”. That’s all I want to do.


Zette, let me echo what several others have said: Buy Writer’s Market. In fact, if you’re really serious, I recommend you buy the one that has the internet option (it comes with a CD), because you get constant updates of markets and the like. If you’re not to that mode yet, save yourself a few bucks and just buy the regular one.

(Remember, if you make any money on this, the book is deductible! :slight_smile: )

I’m afraid I can’t help much with the aspects of who to send it to and all that. I write non-fiction (I have some fiction ideas, and have started on a couple, but they keep fizzling).

And remember a good book is not written but rewritten. :slight_smile:

If anyone is seriously interested in this, e-mail me ( I have an idea floating around in my head.


It’s been a few years since I was published, but as it happens I am looking to get my feet wet again. I second the suggestion of Writer’s Market as a source of submission information, but I caution you that the print version can get out of date quite quickly.

One good resource is to check out/buy/borrow copies of magazines that you like in teh genre. I have found as a (loose) rule that beginning writers tend to stylistically mimic the stories they like. So, since these magazines have demonstrated a willingness to but such stories, they are a good resource. Do not confuse the address for letters with the address for submissions. Most magazines list the address for submissions guidelines with the publishing information. If not, many magazines now have web sites that will give access to their submission guidelines.

The market list is also a good resource for genre writers.

If you need someone to read/critique a story, I would be happy to help. I might even have one to trade back to you.

That said, I must caustion you that I have found a large percentage of “writing circles” to be of little value to the writer who seriously desires to be published. I am afraid that far too many of them (IMX, of course) teeter precariously on the balance of personality and ego reinforcement. If you are lucky enough to find a good group where critique is meaningful, honest and structured, by all means latch onto it and don’t let go. It will be a rose among thorns.

Finally, there are two types of readers opinions that you should be soliciting:

  1. Accomplished writers/editors (not necessarily published, but well read in your genre). From this audience you want specific suggestions on structure, POV, pacing, characterization, etc.
  2. Honest readers who enjoy your genre. From this audience you want impressions, emotions, vague feelings, unexplainable affinities, etc. You want to know how they feel when reading a passage/chapter/story. Often, in fact, this is more important than the learned advice from group 1. Group 1 will invariably, whether intentionally or not–even if they try their hardest not to, guide you toward a style they prefer. Group 2, if you can get them simply to relay impressions not “suggestions”, will let you identify where your voice works, where it doesn’t, and sometimes even how it really should sound.

Good luck to you.

Euty, Chef, et al
A writing group might be interesting, despite my cautions above. Hey, if a group of Dopers can’t pull it off . . .

Zette, you might want to consider subscribing to the Hellnotes Newsletter, published by David Silva. Each issue includes a market report, written by Kathryn Ptacek. The report lists publishers looking for submissions in the horror, SF, fantasy genres.

The subscriber link is at – it’s a great site and a good newsletter, with interviews, reviews, essays, and a contest (which I’ve never won, but that’s okay).

It’s $15 a year, and if you’d like a sample, I think I could send you one without breaking any laws.

Zette, one of my coworkers just had his first novel published, and the book he most recommends and says helped him the most in the actual “getting it published” phase was The Insider’s Guide to Getting an Agent by Lori Perkins. Note: I haven’t read this book at all, but my coworker got it done, so it must have worked! See if you can get it at the library.

Good luck!