Short Stories: Places to Publish

query letter.jpgI’ve been reading more and more posts about the all-important query letter, fishing for representation from agents, and publishing.  Currently, I’ve drafted a book (Wastelander: The Drake Legacy).  I’m also working on a corresponding novella.  With all this considered, I really don’t have much else in the way of a fiction writing resume.

I wouldn’t go to a job interview without first preparing my resume, so why should I attempt to gain representation from an agent without beefing up a similar writing resume?  Right now my resume would consist of, well, nothing.  I can’t count the single novel and novella because they aren’t published.  They are the unproven products I want to get representation for and publish.

Masterpiece Written - No Agent

When you look at it this way, my resume is pretty weak.  After all, I think it’s fair to assume an agent wants to know if we have a future in writing, or if we are a one-and-done kind of writer.   My assumption is they are looking for repeat work.  I interpret this as, are you readable and prolific enough to make everyone involved money by pumping out work?


The problem is that it takes time to draft a book, more to polish it, and potentially longer to start the process of publishing.  If we rely solely on full-blown novels as the basis of our writing portfolios, then we are working on resumes that are years in the making.  In the meantime, we may be writing books very few people will stumble upon (depending on your Jedi marketing mind powers).

Got-an-idea.pngPotential solutions include (1) self-publish first book and novella, (2) write two or three books in the series prior to seeking representation, (3) say, “screw it,” and try to gain representation with current work, (4) roll myself into a ball and cry while rocking, and (5) publish a few short stories to bolster writing resume.

This post focuses on the short story option.  Specifically, finding legitimate publications to publish in.  If successful, the agent would have more than just a single example of what we can do.  Even better, the stories would be published examples by places that presumably value quality within our genres.

In researching the how and where, I came across a few sources of information I thought might be useful to share.

The List Server.jpg

The first is a website is called, Let’s Write a Short Story.  They wrote an article called, 46 Literary Magazines to Submit To.  This reference article lists outlets to submit to, provides hyperlinks to those websites, and breaks the list down into genre’s.

Another comes from the website, The Write Life.  The article I found most useful was, Where to Submit Short Stories: 25 Magazines and Websites That Want Your Work (that’s a long title).  While this list is a little shorter than the previous one, what I like about it is they provide a snippet about each, potential pay for works submitted, as well as rough estimates for word counts.

The Los Angeles Writers Group offers a more current listing: Nine Places to Submit Your Short Stories Right Now.  This one includes places to post poetry, as well as fiction.  I also like that they provide extra information regarding posting requirements.

According to these websites, there are more than 4000 places to publish short stories.  Happy hunting.  It should be noted this post is reblog.  Since this post was generated, some excellent folks have listed more great resources for you to check out!


Kernerangelina (Where Dragons Reside) offered the following:

Philcharlesr (Phil Charles R) provided these gems:

question mark.pngHave any of you published short stories?  If so, where?  I’d love to hear about it and add to our collective information.  Give this amateur yarn spinner some tips!  Until tomorrow, keep reading, keep writing, and as always – stay sharp!

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Using Conventions to Sell Books (Reblog)

The Finished Masterpiece.jpgOne area of infernal mystery for me is marketing.  Many of us blog, tweet, tumble, and war our way to market our books and products.  There is an essential element missing though; the human element.  By this I mean word-of-mouth exchanges.

A great way of reaching the customer directly is going to conventions.  Going to conventions, getting face-to-face with customers, selling your book, and generating author buzz always confused me.  I’ve been to Comic-Con and I’ve seen the rows of tables with artists offering their wares.  It’s intimidating.

How do you get behind one of those tables and how do you sell your product?  More specifically, (1) which convention to choose,  (2) how do you get a table,  (3) how many books to bring,  (4) what do you put on your table, (5) what kind of extras to bring, and (6) how do you focus your message?

matt at his booth.jpg

Matt at his booth.

My good friend M.L.S. Weech (author, gentleman, and fellow Brown Piper) recently wrote a post that cuts away some of the mystery.  Weech frequents conventions and bookstores in an effort to promote his books and I consider him to be very experienced in this subject.  He’s figured out a lot of amazing information and he shared it recently on his blog.  As my blog is also about demystifying the writing process (from start to finish) I felt you all might find some amazing tools and tips in his words.

Matt’s post is hilariously titled, The Wrath of Cons; An Indie Author’s Guide to Conventions

Shameless Promotion.jpg

In the way of cyber-tastic interweb promotion, if you are into paranormal fantasy books involving beings who moonlight as soul shuttling reapers, you will likely enjoy Matt’s book, The Journals of Bob Drifter.

Below are a few of the marketing books on my shelf right now.  As I read them I will break down applicable information and share it with all of you.  After all, that’s what I try to do here at QE.

book in handMy goal is to isolate and develop tips that will allow us to reach down and grab readers by their ankles and shake out their pocket change.  Matt’s post (this reblog) will be the first “Marketing” category post on QE.  I plan to start populating this category with relevant and timely information.

Anyways!  Here’s the list:

  1. Do it! Marketing, by David Newman  This is more of a general marking book, but contagious cover artcovers some pretty sound technology aspects.  I picked it because it has 275 ratings and is sitting at 5 Stars.  That’s cooking with fire!
  2. Contagious: Why Things Catch On, by Jonah Berger.  First of all, this book has a beautiful cover.  Secondly, it has 4.5 stars with 600+ reviews.  Lastly, it’s an amazingly insightful read that goes way deeper than simple advertising schemes.  It looks at how people think and spread information.  It’s a brilliant read and one I will likely blabber on about more in the future.
  3. I’ve already talked about Write to Market, by Chris Fox here.  We had some good discussion on the idea of writing a book tailored to market on that day.  (I just moved that post into the newly created marketing category.)

That’s a wrap for today.  In short, check out Weech’s post!  I found it immensely helpful and it was just the kind of information I was looking for.  Until tomorrow, keep reading, keep writing, and as always – stay sharp!

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Book Blurbs: A Quick Question

book blurb problems.jpgFor those of you who were worried I was blown away by Hurricane Hermine, I’m still here.  We weren’t forced to evacuate but we sure did get pounded by wind and rain.  There’s a little bit of flooding here and there, but nothing too extreme.  With that being said, I wanted to jump right into today’s post.  It will be a short one (I’m going to drive around the neighborhood and help pick up debris).

What makes a good book blurb?  If you can get someone to pick up your book thanks to the awesome cover art you’ve won a single battle.  The second battle comes when they flip it over and read the back blurb.  I need to train for the back cover battle.

Now that Wastelander has been drafted and I’ve started working on the other facets of the production, I’ve began to research different book blurb styles and techniques.  I thought I would share a few of the more solid sources I’ve located that seem to offer useful information.

Side note:  All of the following places I found seem to be pretty solid sources of information for self-publishing if that is your arena of conflict.  They talk about many of the production (printing, typesetting, cover art, etc.) aspects.

  1. From the BlurbBlog I found, The Dos and Don’ts of Writing a Book Blurbs for your Novel
  2. From CreativePen I found, How to Write Back Blurb for Your Book
  3. From WritersHelpingWriters I found, Blurbs that bore, Blurb that Blare

I‘ve also found a couple of book sources to check out.  I’ll be ordering these books here from Amazon and will start burning through them with my typical QE flair (highlighters and pens to desecrate the pages).

  1. The highest rated (and seemingly most legit looking) was Book Descriptions That Sell by Gary Webb
  2. More of an impulse than rating fueled I also purchased How to Blurb: (And how not to), by E.M. Lynley.  The author bio seems very legit, hopefully the content rock too.

There is certainly some repeat information in these offerings and in some of the other sources I found that didn’t make the list.  That’s a good thing.  I think of those massive repeats as high priority items.

book in handThere are some variables though for sure.  I’ve seen book blurbs written as (1) giant quotes from the book, (2) a partial quote and partial blurb, (3) full blurb, (4) no blurb and only “stellar” reviews, (5) first person weirdness, (6) a single line of text, and (7) the list goes on.

My plan is to create three different blurbs, each featuring a different style of delivering the information.  On one of my Wasteland Wednesday’s, I’ll present all three and get some opinions and toss a voting poll into the mix.  That way you can vote on the one that would most likely get you to open the book and give it a try.  It will give you another peak into the book, and provide me some essential post-production feedback.

question mark.pngMy question to all of you is what makes a good blurb in your opinion?  If you can remember a book, and could refer it as a prime example, that would be superbly helpful (I tend to sponge style when I read).  If you just tell me what the title is I can search for the blurb.  This is an area where I am learning as I go!

Well, I’m going to drive around in my truck and clean up branches and toppled trashcans in the neighborhood.  I’m behind on comments from yesterday and will start getting back to folks once I finish saving the world and getting my baby boy through the ol morning routine.  Until tomorrow, keep reading, keep writing, and as always – stay sharp!

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Write to Market: Book, Blurb & Collage

Write to Market, Chris Fox.jpg

Some of my indie friends requested that I start doing more research regarding publishing and marketing books.  To this end, I recently finished reading Write to Market by Chris Fox.  At 100 pages this book now takes the top spot on my, “Shortest Books On Writing,” list (coming to a blog near you).  It edged out The Elements of Style by a whopping five pages!

Now before I talk about this book I want to say two things:

  1. This book is not about marketing a preexisting book.  It is about gauging the market and writing a book to meet market demand.
  2. This concept is probably going to make some of you want to raise a ruckus and talk about how this method of writing is an author selling his/her soul for a buck (or multiple bucks).

When I started reading this book my feet were planted firmly in the second category.  I read the first ten percent of this book (ten pages) and was less than impressed.  Mostly because I thought this was a book on marketing a preexisting book, and also because I felt like writing a book for someone other than myself was akin to punching kittens.

Ethos, pathos, logos

As I continued to read I felt myself being persuaded.  Fox was offering a sound argument packed with ethos, pathos, and logos.  Here are a few points to help you gauge if this book is for you or not.  I’m not going to share too much content because this book is so short.

  • This book is current.  It offers advice that can be applied now.  This makes it a strong reference text.
  • This book is written by a successful indie author specifically for other indie authors.
  • This book is short.  It isn’t packed with exposition.  It is packed with useful tools to leverage online sources and listing tools to examine the writing market.
  • Fox shows you how to use Amazon and other online tools to examine your genre for trends.
  • Fox explains how tracking trends in your genre and writing a book that fits popular demand isn’t really selling out.
  • Fox explains if you want to write and make money, write books people want to read.
  • If you don’t care about making money, write purely for yourself.

Those last two bullets probably have some of you getting ready to beat on your keyboards.  I’ve thought about it over the last few days and this is what I have come up with.  If I would apply this books principles this would be my basic process (there’s more to it in the book).

  1. I outline my book premise.  Then stop.
  2. Use tools provided in book to research genre.
  3. Find the top 20-100 books of my genre.
  4. Read reviews and examine story elements.
  5. Find what unites these books in popularity.
  6. Take the story I was already going to write, and apply some of those elements.
  7. I have written to market.

lookingExample:  I write post-apocalyptic fiction.  So I research the market and see what is popular.  Not just now, but over the last few months.  I look at those books and find what the repeat elements are.  Standard zombies are out, mutant zombies are in.  City scenes are out, fantasy lands are in.

I look at the failed books.  Again, what are the repeat elements?  A group of survivors led by a male protagonist is a story line that is getting old.  They are also getting tired of the whole, “Ushering the mad scientist to the lab of glory to save the world story line.” Okay cool.

I take the story I was already going to write and tweak it in just a few areas to fit market demand and write it.  That’s really it.  Is writing the story you wanted to write, but adding an element readers want to read make you a sell out?  That’s for you to decide.

[Begin Rant Here]

Fisticuffs.jpgHere’s my opinion.  I want to tell my story and I want people to read it.  I also would like to make money.  Because money is good (i.e. pays bills, feeds my family, legitimizes the time spent slaving away).

If I’m cracking some beers open with my cop or military buddies, our stories often turn toward past exploits.  If I would tell my parents those same stories, I would likely tell them in a slightly different way (less vulgarity, drunkenness, and belly laughter).  I want to share those stories, but I also want to be mindful of the listener.  To do this I place a filter on the story.  It’s the same story, but with slight modifications.

I think if we are honest, we all do this to some extent.  At least in the context of how we conduct ourselves with different people.  As long as we aren’t sociopaths about it, it’s normal.  We do this in our daily life, but for some reason we are compelled to take an ethical stand on the stories that could put bread on the table.  If the story is designed to be read by others, shouldn’t we ensure we know what others want to read?

I understand that I’m a noob writer.  I’m not going to sway the market with my stories.  Maybe when one of us is a multi-platinum New York Times best-seller of destiny we will be able to push readers one way or the other.  So for now, I’m not going to try to change the flow of a river.  I’m going to test the waters (market) and float explosives (books) down it to blow the dam to smithereens (readers minds).  At least that’s my plan…

[End Rant]

write to marketAt 100 pages this book is thought provoking.  Your alternative to gauge market trends is Writer’s Market 2016, which is a soul crushing 868 pages.  It can also heat your home the following year because it will be outdated.

If you are curious about market trends, marketing a future book, or just want to be more educated in regards to authors who write to match market trends, I would encourage you to pick this book up.  What are your thoughts?  Do you feel matching a book’s content to meet market trends is bad mojo?  I’ve shared my thoughts, I’d be curious to know yours.  Until tomorrow, keep reading, keep writing, and as always – stay sharp!

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Quest for the Holy Sale: Finding Agents

holy grail.jpgBased on the stories passed down to me, it would appear finding an agent is much like being one of Arthur’s knights and embarking on a quest for the Holy Grail.  While the call of Arthur’s war horn hasn’t reached my ears just yet, (there’s still plenty of time for this squire) I have already started strengthening my sword arm.  So today I will share the tools and resources I have been using to prepare for battle.

Slay the Hydra.  Yes, to lure an agent onto the battleground one must have a book.  Even better, more than one.   Working on multiple books is akin to battling a hydra.  You cut off one head, and another one sprouts up to spit in your face.

shine your armor.jpgShine your bloody armor!  If you wan’t to incite fear in the agents heart, you show up on the battlefield looking like the hand of God placed you before him/her.  For the purposes of agent slaying, this armor is my query letter.   When they read it, I need them to suffer from the kind of blindness you experience when glancing at an angel.

The local lore master offered me a scroll that spoke of a Writer’s Digest article.  I bartered my last jug of ale to get a mystic to add a glyph here.   This portal, if you choose to enter, lists a number of dusty, leather bound tomes focusing on crafting a query letter.  I have a stack of these tomes being delivered by the strongest steed in the land (I couldn’t afford the shipping costs of a griffin – maybe after I get the Grail).

I also met a warrioress in a cow pasture outside of the village (I got lost coming back from the tavern).  Her armor was brilliant and gleaming and she cleaved a tree in two with her bare hands.  I have since began spying on her – hiding in the tall grass to watch her train.  Judging by the quality of her armor, she is obviously skilled.

divining rod.jpgCompass?  Nay – use thine divining rod.  You can’t smite an agent with your query letter if you can’t find one.  After speaking to the wart-covered hag who lives in the Midnight Marsh, and going on a couple errands to collect bizarre herbs, she gave me a magical stick and said it was an Agent Divining Rod.  I jumped with joy.  When I came home and explained what it was to Heather (wife/shield maiden) she clobbered me and threw it into the hearth fire.  So I have decided to look at the Writer’s Digest Guide to Literary Agents and Writer’s Market 2016 tomes for insight.  At least the house will stay warm.

To know thy enemy, one must study the lore.  The texts mentioned above are a start.  They contain enough pages to heat my hovel for many days.  I must spend more time going through them and recording potential targets.

The other night, while running important work related errands (if Heather asks), I met a bard at the Round Table Roadhouse who whispered of two locations of hidden lore.  The bard claimed agents could be found via scrying portals!  It took me three crystal ingots and one quart of mother’s milk (again, no need to mention this to Heather) to get a mage to inscribe those locations within the magical plane here and here.

knigt with villagers.jpg

Gather an angry mob of villagers!  Why do battle alone?  Get the villagers riled up and they will rally to you in droves.  The agent may think twice before questioning your honor when you have a mob of torch wielding village-folk at your back.

I‘ve been working on this.  I traded four cattle, two chickens, my lucky horseshoe, and a strand of baby Thor’s hair to Merlin’s apprentice (who was drunk at the time).  In return, she provided me some sort of magical mirror into the world (I believe it’s powered by a lightning elemental).  With this tool of mechromancy,  I work daily to gather a global mob to join me in battle.  It also allows me to view humorous videos of cats.  I have used this magic to hone my wit.

old warrior.jpgScrew Arthur, get the Grail on your own.  I met a warrior bard once who wore no banner.  His face was covered in scars, but there was a strange twinkle in his eyes.  I traded him two loaves of bread, a vial of djinn tears, and three of Thor’s dirty diapers (I didn’t ask why) for a leather bound chronicle of his journeys.

I told him of my desire to join Arthur, battle an agent, gain the Grail, and earn glory.  He just laughed and told me to not waste my time.  To my surprise, he claimed to have carved his own path to glory.  Judging by the scars, I believed him.  I will have to research this path more.  Perhaps I could convince my friend M.L.S. Weech, who is also a warrior bard, to share a tale of his journeys?

Do you hear that?  It’s not Arthur’s war horn, it’s something far more terrible – the growing cries of baby Thor (his anger can shake the foundations of our humble abode).  Come to think of it, I also need to explain to Heather why so many things are missing from the house…I will have to end this entry here.

Have your duties led you to hidden lore?  I would like to know!  Until the sun rises again, keep studying the lore, keep inscribing your tales, and as always – keep your quill sharp!

Author Page Sign Out.jpg


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AwesomeCon Q&A: Self-Publishing Pitfalls

The dust has settled and all those attending AwesomeCon are likely experiencing the fallout.  I was lucky enough to snag a Q&A with the always busy, but very approachable author, M.L.S. Weech regarding a panel he and Russell Nohelty (founder of Wannabe Press) hosted at the event.

The panel covered what to expect after you finish writing your book.  Namely, the soul crushing battle of getting published.  I had mentioned to Weech, if he could manage the multi-tasking, I would like to get a recap of the event.  The next day my messenger started blinking.

M.L.S. Weech: So I’m back from AwesomeCon.  I’m still recovering, but do you want to talk about the panel?

Quintessential Editor: Absolutely!  Did you manage to get a picture of yourself with Summer Glau?

I did.

Can I put it in the blog?

No you can’t.

(awkward pause) Well let’s talk about the panel then!  What did you end up covering?

The biggest things we covered regarded marketing.  The three major talking points were waiting until you have multiple books before trying to publish, understanding how publishing companies make money, and how to deal with editors.

Why wait until you have two books before trying to publish?

To be honest it’s much easier to market and sell products when you can give your readers different options.  Additionally, being able to offer bundle deals is a big advantage.

You mentioned how some self-publishing companies make money, did you get bamboozled?

I don’t know about bamboozled, but not all publishing companies are equal in what they provide authors.  Some self-publishing companies make their money off authors by conducting marketing campaigns, which come out of the author’s pocket.  In my experience, these marketing campaigns didn’t sell any extra books.  I think the most important thing is to do your homework and understand the hard fact that no one wants to sell your book but you.  I was ignorant, and that ignorance cost me.  I don’t blame anyone but myself.

What all did you talk about regarding editors.  Be gentle, I dabble as a freelance editor after all.

Editors.  If they want the money up front, and you pay them, how exactly are they motivated to do a good job or even do the job at all?  I lost $14,000 last year, most of which was to editors who never finished editing my book, or to marketing campaigns like I already talked about.

It sounds like you had some bum luck with the editors.  If you had it to do again, what would be different?

I would have done a lot more research.  I would have sent my work to more than one editor for sample edits.  Then I would have looked at what each individual did.  Russell mentioned sending a revised sample to some alpha readers to see which version they liked as well.

Russell brought up the value of a well thought out contract.  Make sure you and the editor come to terms with how many drafts you’ll work on together, and how long you’ll spend between edits.  One of the things I really liked that Russell brought up was to include standard penalties if deadlines are missed.

How important is an event like AwesomeCon to authors?  What kind of response did you get?

I do a majority of my sales through conventions.  It’s how I meet readers.  It gives me a chance to tell people about my book.  Just like when people come to a bookstore to meet their favorite authors, it’s the same for these conventions.  I do the same thing.

The other value of events like AwesomeCon is the ability to add names to my newsletter. Russell and I both put a lot of stock into newsletters because they build a relationship with readers.  People like to see consistency out of artists.  Newsletters combined with multiple appearances build a rapport and let readers know you’re serious.

You have a new book coming out soon – Caught.  How are you feeling about it and what can people expect?


I’m growing to like Caught more and more as I revise it.  It was always a good book.  What I like about this book is its pace.  The Journals of Bob Drifter was a drama.  While there were thrills and action sequences, JOBD was about development and character.  I’ll always believe stories center around character, but I wanted Caught to be about pace and intensity. There’s a balance between pacing and character, and that’s what these edits are about. Caught is darker that JOBD.  It’s a horror novel.  I want people to be unable to put it down before bed and unable to sleep after they read it.  

Well as a beta reader of Caught, and someone who did a little editing on it, I can say I am eagerly awaiting the release.  Thanks for sharing your insights on AwesomeCon, publishing, editors, and everything else. 

Stay current with M.L.S. Weech and get sneak peeks into his books by subscribing to his newsletter.

That’s it today.  A few more tips and tricks for the ol toolbox.  Until tomorrow, keep reading, keep writing, and as always -stay sharp!

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Awesome Con 2016 Panel


Click the link to be teleported to the Awesome Con website!

If you are lucky enough to be attending, or planning to, swing by for this discussion on self publishing tomorrow!  My good pal M.L.S. Weech, along with Erin Ann McBride, will be guiding the panel.

[The following excerpt comes from the Awesome Con website.  It’s linked to the banner if you want to give it a click.]

Pitfalls of Unwary Self Publishers
6/5/2016 / 3:00 PM-4:00 PM / Room 149
It’s understandable that you want to get your book published. There are several growing ways to do this. M.L.S. Weech shares the pitfalls he encountered while going through the process. Learn about potential bad business decisions, how some companies really make a profit, what some “freelance” editors really do and more. It’s one thing to make mistakes as you break into the field. Let us help you avoid some of our mistakes. Rated: PG-13 / Panelists: M.L.S. Weech, Erin Ann McBride

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