The link between Minxes of Romance and short stories isn't as tenuous as it might seem. I'm not the only Minx to have been published in this form and (stating the obvious here) some short stories can also be romances.
I write short stories for lots of reasons:
- Quick turnaround - you can write a short story in an afternoon and a sale can quickly follow. The fastest acceptance I've ever had was just two days from date of submission.
- Fast payments - some magazines can pay within days of an acceptance.
- They're lots of fun to write and they're the ideal outlet for all those ideas that keep me awake at night.
And, because they're quick to write:
- It's possible to write and submit lots of them in a way that would be hard to do with longer work. And, of course, if you have lots 'out there' the chances of a sale are greatly increased. It also means that if an R arrives, it's not the end of the world because there's always more work under consideration.
- They give a sense of satisfaction for completing a project - and that doesn't happen as often with longer work.
- Because less time and emotional energy is invested, it's easy to try lots of different styles and genres.
And there are other positives, too:
- Magazines will pay.
- Details of published short stories are great for the writing cv and for including in query letters to agents and publishers.
- The buzz of seeing your name in print is hard to beat.
- Womag writers are a friendly bunch and eager to help each other and I'd defy anyone not to make friends within this community.
But there is a downside (you knew there would be, didn't you?).
- The markets for short stories in women's magazines is shrinking daily.
- Competition is fierce and the number of short story writers is scary. Amanda Brittany has compiled a list on her blog - if you're feeling brave have a look here.
- Because of the first two points, you have to be prepared for rejections. Lots of them. On the upside, the experience will desensitise you to the dreaded R - I've had so many they barely sting these days.
So what's the best way to break into this satisfying market? Preparation is all if you want to avoid all the wasted attempts I made. Before you start writing, there are things you should do to make sure you're targetting your work correctly.
- First stop should be Womagwriter's blog as she's done most of the research for you (how I wish she'd been around when I first started writing). On this blog you'll find details of magazines currently accepting fiction, word counts and where to send your work. Really, if you're planning to write short stories, the best advice I can give you is to follow this blog. The information you'll find is invaluable and everyone reads it - established writers, fiction editors as well as beginners.
- When you've identified the magazine you want to write for, read lots of issues all the way through. Womagwriter has done a lot of the hard work for you, but nothing beats first hand knowledge and you'll need to learn who the readers are - who you would be writing for.
- You'll then need to analyse the stories. Who are the main characters? What jobs do they do? What kind of situations do they find themselves in? This will give you and idea of who your own characters should be.
- Join a critique group. There's nothing like contact with other writers to encourage and provide support. I'm a member of an online private group and we post every two weeks. This has concentrated my mind like nothing else and my output has increased considerably. I don't manage to post every time, but I do try to write at least one new short story every month and that's a lot more than I used to manage.
And now you're ready to begin writing your story...