In the Tuesday, July 30, 2013 post, members of the Writers Who Kill blog offered their perspectives about why to write mystery short stories and what the market provided. They discussed the following five reasons why writing mystery short stories could be advantageous:
1. Short stories appeal to modern attention spans.
2. Short stories allow you to experiment with different genres.
3. Themed short story anthologies give you a subject matter for your story, making you concentrate on a theme and not get deterred by writer’s block.
4. Short stories allow you to interact directly with the editorial community, instead of dealing through an agent.
5. Short stories give you an opportunity to establish your reputation as a fiction writer.
To be successful in the mystery short story market, the following five suggestions were offered:
1. Follow submission requirements.
2. Become involved in short story communities where you can receive the most up‑to‑date information.
3. Read to understand the craft and the business. Short story collections. Stories nominated for awards. Authors’ websites. Authors’ blogs, messages, and articles.
4. Approach the process with a plan and as a professional. You are developing a product and brand. You want to be aware of marketing and use it to your best advantage.
5. Let the process of developing short stories enrich you and help you grow as a writer.
Now, let’s cut to the chase. What are the opportunities and where can you find them?
The list below is an effort to help you navigate the scope of what is available. For complete submission requirements, deadlines, and payment or prize amounts, please consult the referenced websites. Also, please feel free to add to this listing by commenting about your experience or knowledge!
BLOGS, CONTESTS, LIST SERVS, AND ORGANIZATIONS FOR MYSTERY SHORT STORY PUBLISHING INFORMATION
Aspiring Writers Short Story Competitions and Discussions, a subgroup of Aspiring Writers
This list serve has discussion lines as well as lists of short story competitions.
Buddhapuss Ink Mystery Times Short Story Competition
Buddhapuss Ink has an annual mystery short story contest for entries of 3,000 to 7,000 words. Prizes and publication are awarded to winning entries.
Deadly Ink Mystery Conference
The Deadly Ink Mystery Conference publishes an anthology from submissions to its short story contest. Stories must be 5,000 words or less and take place in New Jersey. The first place award is $25 and registration to the conference. All other published entries receive $25.
Duotrope is a subscription service that helps authors locate markets and track their submissions. A free trial of the service is available.
My Little Corner: the scattered thoughts of short story writer Sandra Seamans
Sandra Seamans’ blog keeps track of markets and open calls. Be sure to check out her side bar listing: “Zines to Thumb Through” that provides numerous possibilities for short story publication.
Mystery Writers of America
The Mystery Writers of America (MWA) is considered the premier organization for mystery and crime writers, allied professionals, aspiring writers, and readers. In addition to sponsoring or providing for chapters, programs, and newsletters, the MWA publishes a themed mystery short story anthology each year. Members are invited to make blind submissions for consideration in the anthology. The most recent anthology is the Mystery Writers of America Presents The Mystery Box. Paying market.
New England Crime Bake
Annually, the New England Chapters of Sisters in Crime and the Mystery Writers of America sponsor the New England Crime Bake, a mystery conference for writers and readers. The Al Blanchard award, for an up to 5,000 word story by a New England author or set in New England, is presented each year at the conference and published in an anthology by Level Best Books (see below).
Short Mystery Fiction Society
The Short Mystery Fiction Society (SMFS) began in 1996 and consists of writers, editors, publishers, and readers. It features an active list serv that discusses all aspects of writing short mystery stories and annually presents the Derringer Awards in the following categories: Best Flash Story (Up to 1,000 words); Best Short Story (1,001 ‑ 4,000 words); Best Long Story (4,001 ‑ 8,000 words); and Best Novelette (8,001 ‑ 20,000 words). It also confers the Edward D. Hoch Memorial Golden Derringer for Lifetime Achievement. If you are not familiar with the tremendous legacy of Edward D. Hoch, please read about him at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_D._Hoch
Sisters in Crime Chapters
Sisters in Crime Chapters
Since founded by Sara Paretsky and others at the 1986 Bouchercon, Sisters in Crime has been a network of authors, readers, publishers, agents, booksellers and librarians of mysteries and supporters of women mystery authors. Various chapters of Sisters in Crime publish short story anthologies. Some chapters that publish anthologies or offer online short story critique groups are:
http://www.sinc‑guppies.org (Great Unpublished Online Chapter)
http://www.chessiechapter.org (Chesapeake Chapter)
http://desertsleuths.com/anthology (Phoenix, Arizona Chapter)
http://nysinc.org/anthology (New York/Tri-State Chapter)
http://www.sincne.org (New England Chapter)
http://sistersincrimela.com/?page_id=51 (Los Angeles, California Chapter)
http://www.trianglesinc.com/index.html (Raleigh, North Carolina Chapter)
SleuthFest, organized by the Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America
Each year, SleuthFest sponsors a short story contest for unpublished registrants. The winning story is published in the SleuthFest program and the winner receives free registration for the next SleuthFest conference.
The Wolfe Pack
The Wolfe Pack is a forum for discussion about Nero Wolfe’s 73 books and novellas. It sponsors an annual Black Orchid Novella Award for original unpublished stories of 15,000 to 20,000 words. First prize is $1,000 and publication in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. Entries must be submitted and post marked no later than May 31, 2014. Rules and guidelines are on the website. Questions may be addressed to the Awards Chair, Jane K. Cleland at email@example.com.
MARKETS FOR AND PUBLISHERS OF MYSTERY SHORT STORIES
Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine
Alfred Hitchcock is a monthly print journal that publishes short stories varying from short‑shorts to novellas. Each issue features a Mysterious Photograph contest, where writers may submit 250 words stories, featuring a crime, based on a photo. Each winning story is published in later issue. Paying market.
Bethlehem Writers Roundtable
The Bethlehem Writers Roundtable is the monthly online journal of the Bethlehem Writers Group, which also publishes print anthologies and has an annual short story competition with publication and cash prizes. Themes are provided for each month. Submissions must be 2000 words or less and submitted at least a month in advance. The editors are willing to work with authors if they see potential in a story. Nonpaying market (for online journal).
Big Pulp Magazine
Big Pulp is an online journal that publishes fantasy, mystery, adventure, horror, science fiction, and romance stories. A print edition is published quarterly on or about the 15th of March, June, September, and December. Paying market.
At the time of this post, Big Pulp is closed for submissions, but by going to the submissions link, you may read the guidelines and subscribe to a list to be notified of open submissions periods.
Dark Oak Press/Kerlak Publishing
Dark Oak Press and Kerlak Publishing is based out of Memphis, Tennessee, and publishes fiction (including literary, steampunk, fantasy, mystery/crime, and young adult), nonfiction, and anthologies, in hard cover, trade paperback, and as ebooks. For an example of a recent publication, check out: http://www.darkoakpress.com/bigbad.html. Paying market.
Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine is a monthly print journal that publishes most types of mystery stories, including the psychological suspense, puzzle stories, private eye cases, hard‑boiled mysteries, and cozies. The Editors consistently seek: strong writing, an original and exciting plot, and professional craftsmanship. Paying market.
Level Best Books
Level Best Books, an independent publishing cooperative, has published ten mystery anthologies. Each new anthology is available in the fall and introduced at the New England mystery conference Crime Bake. The Al Blanchard award winner is included in the anthology. Paying market.
Kings River Life Magazine
Kings River Life Magazine is a California based weekly online journal that features mystery short stories (2000 words or less) and articles (1000 words or less) about mystery authors and books. Lorie Lewis Ham is the publisher. Authors and photographers may include a link to either their website or blog. Nonpaying market.
Mozark Press, a small company based in central Missouri, publishes paperback books and short story anthologies. Linda Fisher is the publisher. Her anthologies and stories from those anthologies have won and been nominated for prestigious awards in the short fiction community. Check out her website for open calls. Paying market.
Mysterical‑e is a periodic online journal that publishes all types of mystery stories in the following categories: Drabble (if really good) ‑‑ 100 words or less; Flash ‑‑ up to 500 words; Short‑Short ‑‑ 501 to 1000 words; Short Story ‑‑ 1001 to 7500 words; Long Short Story ‑‑ 7501 to 15000 words; Novella ‑‑ 15001 to 40000 words; and Serialized Longer works ‑‑ more than 40001 words. Nonpaying market.
Mystery and Horror, LLC
Mystery and Horror, LLC began in 2011 as a writing partnership between Gwen Mayo and Sarah Glenn. It publishes print themed anthologies. Check out the website for open calls and the July 20, 2013, Writers Who Kill post (http://writerswhokill.blogspot.com/2013/07/confessions‑of‑virgin‑editor.html) for background about Gwen and Sarah’s endeavor. Paying market.
Needle: A Magazine of Noir
Needle: A Magazine of Noir is a periodic print journal that publishes contemporary crime fiction. The average length story is about 2,400 words. Nonpaying market.
At the time of this post, Needle is closed for submissions, but information about the Summer 2013 issue is available at http://needlemag.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/needle‑2013‑is‑live.
Over My Dead Body
Over My Dead Body is a monthly online journal that accepts mystery fiction (up to 4000 words) and articles. All writers must query by mail or email before submitting manuscripts. Paying market.
Based out of Winston‑Salem, North Carolina, Press 53 is a publisher of poetry and short story anthologies, and presented of writing conferences. It has an annual Press 53 Open Awards to select flash fiction, short‑short stories, short stories, and novellas to be included in an anthology. Also, every other year, Press 53 publishes Surreal South, an anthology of strange, odd, Gothic, southern stories, or stories by southern authors. Submissions are open Jan‑Apr every odd year. Paying market.
Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine
Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine is a print quarterly publication of Wildside Press. See guideline information at http://movies.ning.com/forum/categories/wildside‑press‑guidelines‑and‑general‑info/listForCategory. Also, query editor Marvin Kaye at firstname.lastname@example.org. Paying market.
SmokeLong Quarterly is a quarterly online journal that publishes flash fiction up to 1,000 words. The Kathy Fish Fellowship offers a monetary award and publication of four stories. Nonpaying market (for online journal).
StoneThread Publishing publishes novels, novellas, and collections of short fiction. Periodically, it offers contests for short story submissions. The latest anthology, containing mysteries, is entitled The Least He Could Do (title story by Lynn Mann) and will be available on August 1, 2013through Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other sources. Paying market.
The Strand has been publishing since 1891, and is interested in well‑written and well‑plotted 2,000 to 6,000 word stories (and occasionally 1,000 word stories) involving mysteries, detectives, terror, or the supernatural set in any time or place. Paying market.
Founder and Editor‑in‑Chief, Jay Hartman has established a major publishing venue for short fiction in Untreed Reads. Novellas and short story collections are accepted. Beginning in 2014, stand‑alone short stories will no longer be published, but quarterly anthologies for each of the themed lines will be issued: Orbits (science‑fiction/fantasy), Spectres (horror), Fingerprints (mystery), Nibs (literary fiction), Candlelight (PG‑romance) and Untreed After Dark (erotica). Stories of 1,500 to 5,000 may be submitted for the anthologies. Currently, through September 1, 2013, Untreed Reads has an open call for its third Thanksgiving mystery anthology, The Killer Wore Cranberry: Room for Thirds. For further information, check:http://www.untreedreads.com/submission‑guidelines/call‑for‑submissions‑thanksgiving‑anthology. Paying market.
Woman’s World Magazine
Women’s World Magazine accepts mini‑mystery submissions up to 700 words. Submission guideline are available by contacting Bauer Publishing at 201‑569‑6699 or sending a request to Bauer Publishing Co., 270 Sylvan Avenue, Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632. Paying market.