Thousands of magazines and journals publish short stories, but only some of them offer payment. If you would like to make money writing in this genre, you will need to work hard and continually build your craft. Writing short stories may require plenty of patience and perseverance, but the rewards are worthwhile and gratifying. Although very few writers can make a livable salary from their short stories, you can use your earnings as supplemental income.
Polish your work. You will face stiff competition in the short story market, so before you look for venues to publish your work, spend time editing it. Each story should have a strong plot, vibrant characters and believable dialogue.
Research short story markets. Visit Duotrope.com to browse through hundreds of magazines, journals and websites that publish short stories. Make sure to find markets that suit your story's genre and word count. For example, you should target science fiction magazines if you like to write about space travel and aliens.
Follow the submission guidelines. After you have found 15 to 20 potential markets for your story, carefully read the submission guidelines for each periodical. Some magazines ask writers to send in their work via email or to contact a specific editor. Make sure to follow the guidelines or an editor may not read your story.
Start small. Short story writers often break into this field by publishing in an e-zine or a regional magazine. If you are an unpublished writer, you should target smaller, lesser known markets at first. Although most of these markets will not offer compensation, it is important to build your publishing credits.
Target more established magazines. Once you have built a portfolio of work, try to sell your stories to markets that pay more money.
Go for the big leagues. Magazines like the Atlantic Monthly and the Boston Review often offer professional payment for short stories (5 cents or more per word). To break into these markets, you should have good publishing credits, and your story should be thoroughly edited and critiqued.
Stay positive. You probably will receive more rejection letters than acceptance letters---just remember that every writer faces this challenge. Patience and perseverance are key to getting your stories published.
Tips & Warnings
- Find a critique group. If you have trouble selling your work, join a critique group to help improve your stories and hone your writing craft. Visit writing forums like AbsoluteWrite.com and WritersBeat.com to look for a group or to post your stories for critiques.