Calling all creative writers! I see you out there, typing wonders. Maybe you just write as a hobby, dreaming up stories in your spare time. Maybe you’ve been wanting to find a way to make a living off the labor of your imagination and your way with words.
This is for you. Today, I have some great advice on how and where to start submitting your work – whether you write short stories, novels, greeting cards, or screenplays, I mention a market below that is looking for your great work. I don’t forget about you poets either!
If you are a creative writer, there are a few tracking websites you should become familiar with: sites like Duotrope, The (Submission) Grinder, and Ralan.com can and should become your best business friends. These sites collect listings of publishers who are looking for everything from short stories and poetry to greeting card text to screenplays for film and TV. This makes it easy for you to find well-paying freelance fiction writing jobs and provides a handy platform to use for tracking your submissions.
Duotrope is a paid service, costing $5-$6 per month with the option to save by purchasing an annual subscription. Ralan.com and The (Submission) Grinder remain free, for now. While most of them cover all different genres and types of writing, Ralan.com only covers speculative fiction (like science fiction and fantasy) and humor markets. Freelance Writer's Den is another great freelance writing job board to follow.
Flash Fiction Online – Flash Fiction Online is currently open to flashfic in all categories, and their categories include science fiction and fantasy, horror, mainstream, humor, literary, and more. They pay $60 per story between 500-1000 words. They will also purchase reprints at a rate of $0.02 per word.
The Sun – The Sun is always looking for excellent short stories (along with essays, interviews, and poetry). They pay a pretty penny too: between $300 to $2000 for short stories (generally less than 7000 words in length). You’ll also get a year’s subscription to the magazine if published.
The Sun – I just mentioned this magazine above, but they’re worth mentioning again here! The Sun will pay $100 – $250 for poetry, so don’t overlook them when sending your poems out.
Pedestal Magazine – Pedestal Magazine is proud to foster artistic diversity and celebrate individuality, and they put their money where their mouth is. Poetry accepted for publication will net you $50 per poem at this magazine. You can submit up to 5 poems at one time.
Rattle – Rattle is always looking for fresh poetry, invoking feelings they haven’t encountered before. They don’t put any length limits on poetry, and invite you to send up to 4 poems at once. Payment is $100 per poem that appears in their print magazine and $50 for poems that appear on their site. Contributors also get a complimentary one-year subscription to the magazine.
Blue Mountain Arts – This company is interested in poetry and other writing that might be appropriate for their greeting cards – particularly those reflecting personal experience. No rhymed poetry, though! They pay $300 per poem for free and clear use on their cards and $50 per poem for one-time use in one of their books.
Comstock MarketPlace – Comstock specializes in adult humor, so they need ideas for gag lines catering to a risqué outlook. It looks like they only accept submissions by postal mail, but you can expect to be compensated with $50 if they buy your idea.
DaySpring – Have you previously been published? If so, DaySpring is interested in your Christian faith-oriented greeting cards. They pay $75 for each piece they purchase and prefer conversational pieces with ministry value.
IMDbPro– This is a paid service. With your membership, you will have access to cast, crew and production calls for IMDb’s 8 million people and 5 million titles.
The Black List – The Black List is a paid service, but that’s more common than not when trying to get a foot in the door of the screenwriting industry. If you’ve got a little scratch, a written script for movies or TV, and feel feisty – consider signing up for an account!
NOVELLAS AND NOVELS
Have you written an entire novel? Or even a novella (which is somewhere between a short story and a novel – generally a story between 7500 and 40,000 words)? Congratulations! That’s hard work, and you can be proud of what you’ve accomplished. In fact, there might be more than pride awaiting you – there might be some serious money.
Most professional writers seek out an agent at this point, who then shops their work around to major publishers. If you either can’t or don’t want an agent, you can shop your work yourself – you might have better luck with smaller markets that publish novellas (like Clarkesworld if you write science fiction and fantasy) or in approaching small presses.
Or you can skip all that, and go directly to self-publishing. You can take your writing directly to your readers via services like Smashwords and Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. Smashwords let you make 60% off your books sold through major retailers and 80% if sold directly through the Smashwords store. You can earn up to 70% with KDP, and your work can appear in Kindle stores worldwide. Not too shabby!
Regardless of which avenue you choose, read the fine print. Almost every company will require you sign over certain rights. Some may require your works be previously unpublished others may not care. Some may require first print rights. Others may want exclusive rights to your work. Make sure you know what you are getting into and make sure you are being compensated accordingly.
First published July 2017. Updated December 2019.