In the event that you don’t want to wait until your book has been written, re-written, critiqued by fellow writers and beta-read by willing individuals, re-written again, submitted to an editor, and tweaked once more to get to the coveted final draft status—then have no fear.

Well, have a little fear.

Making substantial funds from writing, especially fiction, is tough cookies these days. Tough cookies…is that a phrase? Hmm, now I want some cookies…but not tough ones. Anyway…

There are a few ways to make money from your writing, and if you’re lucky and talented and also have a lot of time on your hands, then writing enough to make an income is a possibility. So today I’m providing you with Part One in a series of four blogs on how to attempt it.

Submit your short stories to magazines and online publications.

The key to beginning this endeavor is by identifying which publications will accept your genre, and going from there. A word of advice from my own mistake: Most publications request that submissions are no longer than 5,000 words, and they also have strict guidelines regarding what exactly they are looking for to publish. One example of this is Beneath Ceaseless Skies, a highly regarded and professional-paying magazine (six cents a word people! SIX CENTS A WORD. You could pay a third of this month’s rent with that!).

They state on their website that they are only willing to accept “literary adventure fantasy,” requesting that submissions have some sort of fantasy element and are not written in anything remotely close to modern time. They even have requirements for what your characters and even your narrative style should be like. They are picky and it can be annoying, but so goes it when you want to submit to a multi-award winning publication.

On a more positive note, a fantastically informative column written by Richard Thomas, author and editor-in-chief of Dark House Press, can lend a helping hand for those just beginning to explore short story publication. In the column, Thomas identifies which markets exist currently and the three pay rates they fall into, if they do actually pay:

professional (five cents a word and up),
semi-pro (one to five cents per word), and finally,
token (one cent or less per word).

Organizing each market by genre and then by their pay rate, Thomas has created a thorough list of publications, also discussing his thoughts on various ones he has personally submitted to, as well as how easy or difficult it is to be selected.

Thomas also mentions the resource Duotrope, which came about in 2006 for writers to explore the current publication markets and keep track of their own submissions. The search engine allows the writer to narrow down by pay rates, genres, word count, and other guidelines to find the ones most likely to publish your work. As of today, Duotrope states that they have 4,938 fiction, poetry, and non-fiction markets to pick from. The only catch is that in 2013, Duotrope became a subscribed service, costing $5 a month to use or $50 for the entire year. However, you can still get a free seven-day trial.

Thomas states that Duotrope is worth the $50 investment as long as you are serious about keeping track of your submittals and also pursuing those most likely to accept your piece. But if you are cheap or poor or both, then there is another free option to consider, though it is not as sophisticated as Duotrope just yet. Called “The Grinder” and run by an e-zine called Diabolical Plots, this market database was created to do exactly the same thing as Duotrope does, but for free.

So once you’ve submitted your short story, you get to wait between one and three months (or longer) to hear back on whether you’ve been rejected or not. Keep in mind that some publications, usually competitive ones like the sci-fi head honcho of the market,, request that no simultaneous submissions are made to their publication. They specifically state on their page just how angry they get if you submit something they’ve chosen for publication, only to find out you’ve sold it somewhere else. I know I wouldn’t want to be on’s blacklist, and you probably don’t either, especially when they pay 25 cents a word. Yes, you heard me right.

So in summary, just be sure to do your research and format your submission to each publication’s specifications. If you’re not familiar with how to write your piece in manuscript format, it can easily be looked up online. Some request that you send the story in the body of the email, or as an attachment (doc. and not docx. is the norm, so be sure to reformat if needed!). It is a competitive field out there, and you can increase your odds of selection greatly by simply following the submission guidelines.

Also, if you are just starting out and want to just add some clout to your name and writing, consider submitting to non-paying markets, which are less competitive but can still be prestigious on your resume.

Finally, you can always consider self-publishing the story (if it is a substantial size, think between 20,000 or 40,000 words at least) on Kindle and asking $.99 or less. This will increase your audience and readership while you continue building your repertoire.

I will touch on this concept, as well as making money from your blog, on Midnight Publishing’s next post!

Until then, keep writing and keep dreaming!

For more information on Ashley R. Carlson, see “About the Author” below and find her dilly-dallying at her:

Twitter: @AshleyRCarlson1


Midnight Publishing offers skilled and affordable media architects for manuscript editing, self-publishing consultation and guidance, and author marketing. The ultimate role of the editor is to help the author connect with the reader. A good editor enhances that connection, providing another eye and view for the author. Our editors are artists of language, grammar, and the mechanics that help a manuscript take the journey from ordinary to great. Midnight Publishing also offers self-publishing consultation, query letter editing, graphic and web site design, business copy writing and editing, and more.

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