I stumbled upon this site while looking for an agent. I was pleased to see that you had a forum dedicated to unpublished writers, because that's what I am. I have skimmed through a couple of the threads but I haven't really found one that addresses what I'm looking for, so I decided to start my own thread.
Here's my situation-
I am writing a book of short stories. I have four stories done so far. Is it time to look for an agent to see what they think of the four that I have done and see if it would even be worth writing the other six if my writing is unadulterated rubbish?
Also, is getting an agent the way to go or is it better to go the e-book route?
If not e-books, then should I just try submitting my sample work to a publisher?
I appreciate anyone taking the time to read this thread and I hope you'll take the time to respond.
If you are an unknown writer, a collection of short stories is very difficult to market to an agent or a publisher. And you need a full collection (about a minimum of 200 pages) before you market it as a collection anywhere. My advice is to get some of those stories published in literary magazines first. (It will improve your chance of publishing them in a collection.) Most lit mags purchase first rights only, so you can still put the story in a collection later.
If you are committed to publishing the stories as a collection in a book, then look into some of the competitions for short story collections. These usually have an entry fee ($10-20 on average) but often offer publication and a large cash award. They also carry quite a bit of prestige. For example, who friend who won the Iowa Fiction Award for her short story collection received immediate interest from agents. The agent who repped her later sold her first novel, which was nominated for some prestigious awards. I've also heard writers talk about agents contacting them after reading a short story published in a literary magazine.
No matter what direction you choose to go (agent, competitions, self-pubbed), you must have a complete story collection before you start marketing it. You can't send out three or four stories just to see if they're interested. It doesn't work that way. With fiction of any kind, agents and publishers want to know you have a completed book, not a portion of a book with some additional ideas sketched out.
This is a great resource for lit magazines if you want to submit your stories individually:
Be sure to check Resources Threads for more markets and information. Good luck!
Thanks for the reply, I really appreciate it. I will definitely check into the short story contests/submitting them to literary magazines. That link you provided is great. Are there any rules to submitting to multiple literary magazines? For instance- if I submit it to magazine A do I have to wait until I hear back from them to submit it to magazine B?
In general, simultaneous submissions to lit magazines submissions are fine. In fact, they are encouraged. Many of these magazines can take six months to a year to respond, so if you wait until you hear back, it could take you 15 years to publish the first story!
Read their submission guidelines carefully, though. Some places don't accept submissions during the summer. Others have strict limits on genre or word count. I would advise you to find 5-6 promising markets and send the same story to all of them. When you get a rejection (and you will), send the story out again to somewhere else. If the work is accepted, you simply withdraw it from consideration at the places that haven't notified you yet. You don't have to offer an explanation; just tell them the work is no longer available.
You can use the tracking feature on Duotrope to keep track of your submissions. Very handy--and it's free.
Thanks a lot for the reply. 15 years to get published lol, that wouldn't be good. I'm young, but even I wouldn't want to wait that long =P. I will have to dig around on Duotrope to see what I can find. I'm debating whether or not to post my story on the critique section of the site. Would you recommend that?
Also- Would it be okay to send more than one short story to any publisher at one time?
Thanks so much!