Where to Submit Short Stories

by Grace Geide

Last week, we suggested three ways to celebrate Short Story Month. Maybe (we hope!) you’ve started writing your own short stories. Great! Now what? This week, we’d like to help you find places to submit short stories.

Smiling man writing on paper in a grassy field

Contests

Whether you’re just starting to write short stories or have a cache of completed manuscripts, there’s a contest for you! The following list is only a sample of available contests. Follow the links to find more details and see whether one of these contests is a good fit. If not, try a quick online search to find other competitions.

  • Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction: The contest associated with this award was “established to encourage gifted emerging writers by bringing their work to a national readership.” The annual contest is open to published and unpublished writers who can submit “collections of short fiction.” The winner will receive $1,000, and the winning collection will be “published by the University of Georgia Press under a standard book contract.” Manuscripts may be submitted through 5:00 PM on May 31, 2018.
  • Literary Taxidermy Short Story Competition: Up for a challenge? This contest, which awards prize money and publication, has an unusual twist: submitted stories must have “opening and closing lines . . . from a classic work of literature.” (Contest staff have already chosen the lines that writers must use.) Both winners and runners-up will receive awards. Submissions are accepted until 12:00 PM (PST) on June 4, 2018.
  • John Steinbeck Award for Fiction: Offered by Reed Magazine, this award is “for a work of fiction up to 5,000 words.” A prize of $1,000 will be given to the winner. Submissions are accepted from June 1 to November 1, 2018.
  • James Knudsen Prize for Fiction: Offered by Bayou Magazine, which publishes “exceptional, exciting work by both established and emerging writers,” this prize will be awarded for an “original, previously unpublished work of fiction, no longer than 7,500 words.” The winner will receive $1,000 and a year’s subscription to Bayou Magazine. Submissions are accepted from October 1, 2018, to January 1, 2019.

Interested in a contest but can’t submit your work by the contest’s deadline? Don’t give up yet! Some contests (like the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction) are held annually. Check the details about the contest you’re interested in, and use the extra time to finish polishing your manuscript and write new ones. You’ll be ready for next year!

Magazines

Eager to publish your work? There are magazines online and in print that accept short stories. With some persistence, you may succeed. The magazines listed here are among those that accept short fiction.

  • One Story: Unusual in that it publishes only “one story at a time,” One Story publishes stories of 3,000 to 8,000 words. Specifically, the magazine seeks “stories that leave readers feeling satisfied and are strong enough to stand alone.” Submissions are open twice a year: from January 15 to May 31, and from September 1 to November 14.
  • NarrativeNarrative, a nonprofit organization, seeks to promote “reading across generations, in schools, and around the globe” by providing literature online, free of charge. There’s a small submission fee for unsolicited manuscripts. Each year, Narrative awards $4,000 for “the best short story, novel excerpt, poem, or work of literary nonfiction published by a new or emerging writer in Narrative.” Manuscripts are accepted “any time, year-round.”
  • Flash Fiction Online: Are you an author of very short stories? Flash Fiction Online, described here, accepts only those stories that have 500 to 1,000 words. This publication wants stories with “developed empathetic characters and discernible, resolved plots.” It accepts original, unpublished fiction and also publishes reprints, if you submit them in the proper category. Manuscripts are currently being accepted.

If you’ve written and polished short stories, don’t hide them away! With just a little research, you can find a competition or magazine that’s right for you.

Have some tips about competitions or magazines that accept short fiction? Share them in the comments!

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