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You have a story that's finished, it’s been critiqued and revised and is ready to go. Now what? To get published, I would suggest you go to your local Barnes & Nobles or Borders and go to the writing reference section and find a copy of the 2009 Writer's Market.
What’s a Market?? It’s a place to SELL your story to. Book publishers, magazines, newspapers, and websites are all markets for your writing.
Now take a look through the book. You can even sit down in the coffee shop and copy out information from its pages. What it will tell you is the name of the editor, address of the book publisher (or magazine) and what type of books/stories they publish. Also how they want you to send your story - via email, snail mail - or that they only accept agented submissions (from agents).
For example, if you have a mystery short story - you'll want to look in the book for all the magazines that will publish mystery short stories. The Writer’s Market will list the magazine's address etc... and the magazine's guidelines. Always send them EXACTLY what they ask for. Always! No, don’t argue with me – I’m right on this one ;> Also – call the receptionist – yes, you’re allowed. Confirm the address, editor’s name (they tend to change jobs – frequently) and that they’re still accepting submissions. Or check their website – many post this info online – although it can be out of date.
The best way to sell a story to a specific magazine is to read about 6 issues of it (libraries keep back issues of the more popular magazines or you can spend more time at B&N). Same goes for book publishers – try and find books published by them and edited by the editor you’re targeting (read the author’s acknowledgements – we tend to thank our editors in this section).
Why do this? Because if you have a quaint cozy mystery story and Editor Q at Mysteries R Us only likes to publish vampire slasher mysteries – you’re wasting postage and Q’s time. I have more details about the submission process in the essay titled, The Publishing Labyrinth.
If you find the Writer’s Market to be invaluable - then I would suggest you sign up for the online version of it at: writersmarket.com. It costs about the same as the book, but gives you updated information. The book is already out of date the day after it's printed. If you only need a few publishers to send your work to - you can copy the info from the book at B&N - or the library - some libraries have the book in their reference sections. Again make sure if you're using the info from the book that you call the market and check to see if the address etc. is current.
What if I'm 18 or younger? It makes it a little harder to get published when you’re younger. (if you remember Christopher Paolini was 15 and his parents self-published the book before he was picked up by a major publisher - of course he is the exception to the rule). But it is not impossible. In fact there are magazines and contests out there that want stories written by young writers. Here's a website which list's them: fundsforwriters.com/writingkid.htm - I'm hoping all these sites I mention are still good - if not - Goggle them for new info.
You might want to try some of those listed in the young writer's site first - but if you feel you have a great story - that's professional and matches the quality of adult writers - then go ahead try these major publishers - check their submission guidelines before you send anything and only send them exactly what they ask for - I added websites for you to check:
Houghton Mifflin Books
Boyds Mills Press:
Bantam Doubleday Dell Books for Young Readers:
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers:
REMEMBER - if anyone is ASKING you for money for your writing - that's a BAD sign - they should pay you to publish your stories. You can self-publish - but you need to find a reputable printing company and avoid those vanity presses. For a list of bad eggs, check out the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Association's (SFWA) Author's Beware site here: sfwa.org and also check the Predators and Editors site for publishers and agents to avoid: anotherealm.com/prededitors