How to Sell Poems & Short Stories

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Poems and short stories are difficult to sell, especially for a beginner.
Poems and short stories are difficult to sell, especially for a beginner. (Image: Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

A common dream for creative people is making a living by selling poems or short stories. Unfortunately, it's also a difficult career to break into. A number of habits can help increase your chances of success, as can careful study of your market and the buyers in it. If you are willing to work hard, handle rejection well and are eager to improve your skills when people give you advice, you might be ready to succeed in the difficult world of publishing.

Learn your market. Aim what you write directly at what your chosen market wants.

Write what you love, and write every day. Develop a great writing style with passion and practice. Establish a habit of writing at a specific time with a specific goal every single day.

Edit to perfection, then seek unbiased opinions prior to submitting your story or poem. Polish your writing after others have given frank assessments.

Make a list of target markets that pay. Note the editors names, any submission time periods, publication addresses, formatting information and special notes. Always submit manuscripts exactly the way the market requests them.

Submit to paying markets. When you receive a rejection, don't dwell on it. Instead, submit to the next market on your list.

As soon as you place a submission in the mail, sit down and write the next story or poem. Always be working on a new story or poem.

Market yourself. Establish a fan base among those who have read your stories and poetry. Try to make a connection with those people using social networking or a website, and ensure they are aware of every new publication.

Tips & Warnings

  • Once you're secure in your talent, writers' conferences and conventions can help you network and give you insider information about what's hot.
  • Explore emerging markets. For example, Amazon provides a simple self-publishing platform for writers, and a few new short works are marketed primarily as iPhone apps.
  • If your dream is to be a writer, look for other writing venues to bring income while you are developing your fiction career.
  • Do not quit your day job. Writing poetry and short fiction rarely brings a stable income.

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