The short story and poetry industry can be very competitive due to a small readership and few publishing houses looking for short stories or poetry. If you’ve got a book of poems or short stories, keep an eye out for small presses that are more likely to be looking for anthologies.
Keep in mind that short fiction and poetry publishers are unlikely to consider publishing an anthology by an individual unless they have already been quite widely published.
Even though it sounds like a hard industry to break into, don’t despair. As always, there are ways to get noticed.
Magazines and journals
Initially, it’s far more likely that you’ll be successful publishing your short stories and poems individually in literary journals. Many journals recommend reading a few issues before submitting to see if your style of writing will fit with their content. Identify the magazines and journals that publish writing of a similar style/genre to your own and subscribe to them. Identify trends in editorial preferences and then send them appropriate work. Keep an eye out for changes in editorship. When a new editor takes over a magazine or journal they will often be looking for fresh new contributors – the perfect time for emerging writers to submit their work.
Another great way to get your poetry or short stories recognised is to enter competitions. There are dozens of competitions run in Australia each year. You can hear about upcoming competition deadlines by subscribing to our free weekly electronic newsletter, Newsbite.
Competition deadlines are also a good tool for motivating yourself to finish that next draft. It’s important to submit to as many reputable competitions as you can as selection processes will inevitably be subjective and depend upon the overall quality of submissions. It has often been the case that what was rejected for a small prize has been successful for a larger one, and vice versa. The key is persistence.
Before submitting to a competition, be sure to check the submission guidelines.
We advise writers to be suspicious of any competitions or publications requesting money in order to see your work in print. However, be aware that some publications may ask for first publication rights. This is an acceptable industry practice. It will preclude you from publishing your work in another journal before it has gone to print in the journal purchasing first rights and may extend to a period of a few months after the journal has gone to print.
Payment for publication
Literary journals with a wide circulation or government arts funding should pay Australian Society of Authors (ASA) standard rates for publishing short stories and poetry. However, many small, independent or fledgling journals and websites may be unable to offer ASA rates. If your work is published in one of these it is not uncommon to receive little or no payment for your work. However, you should receive at least one free contributor copy of the publication. Whilst you may not receive payment, what you do receive from these publications is recognition of your work, which you can then use to get into more established literary journals. You will also receive the satisfaction of seeing your name in print.
Australian Poetry (formerly Poets Union) <www.australianpoetry.org>
Australian Society of Authors <www.asauthors.org>
Australian Writer’s Marketplace < https://www.awmonline.com.au>
Poetry Sydney <http://www.poetrysydney.org>
Small Press Network <smallpressnetwork.com.au>
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