Flash Fiction and Short-Shorts

Whether for online or for print, most magazines have an online presence now and submission guidelines and the specific needs of each entity can generally be found at their online site – plus instructions for submitting a query or a manuscript. The word instructions should not be interpreted as simply suggestions if we wish to make a successful query.

When they say they want a certain subject, style, word count, format or any other qualifying factor, they have a reason for saying so and ignoring the instruction is the same as saying “How about if this one goes straight into the trash bin?”

Some of these markets pay very well. Some pay a minimal fee, and very many of them do not pay at all.

The tendency might be to immediately dismiss those that don’t pay, but that might be a mistake. To get a job in the business world we have to have a resume.

Since most of us are not born equipped with one we have to start at a beginning job and work our way up. Gradually more impressive experience replaces the beginning jobs on the resume until it reaches the level we want. A writing resume is the same. Some of the nonpaying markets can help us build that writing bio, and many of them have an impressive record of launching new writers into other, more lucrative publication.

Quite a number of them will purchase reprints, which means a good story can be sold over and over again. How can this be? Magazines have very defined readerships and are not afraid of an article that has appeared in a publication that they do not feel reaches their readers. So we have to be sure we are only selling one-time rights and insuring that the rights stay with us so we are able to make this resale.

There are many different markets, varied genres and a multitude of publishing possibilities available. A lot of submissions sent out to as many places as possible, means when a negative market response (I don’t call them writing rejections) comes in, it’s easier on the old ego than waiting for one single query to be answered and putting too much hope in it.

Maybe we call it luck or perhaps good market research, whatever the label it’s a numbers game. We maximize our chances at being at the right place and the right time by keeping a lot of hooks in the water and by varying the bait.

So, writing short fiction is great for our writing technique. A substantial market for it exists. It can be a quick way to build a good writing resume. It can be a nice, steady income, but one last thing, it is very time effective.

When we don’t have the time to work on a longer work or maybe just away from our notes or the computer, it’s a nice break. Maybe when there is simply a little time somewhere, sitting in a waiting room or such, it’s something that can be worked on anywhere. It’s very portable.

Terry Burns has two books coming out in print, audio and E-books from The Fiction Works. One of the E-book versions has been nominated for the Eppie award. He’s been published in numerous magazines and in a short story collection entitled Three Naked Ladies Playing Cellos by Darkstormy writers. He’s also published four nonfiction books, hundreds of music celebrity profiles and a book of poetry called Cowboys Don’t Read Poetry. He’s been accepted into the Western Writers of America and is currently President of Panhandle Professional Writers.