I have penned mounds and mounds of short stories. And don’t even look through the stacks of poems. It’s obscene. The few that have seen the light of publication have had an interesting course.
At first I did what countless writers before me told me to do. (Ok, so Hemingway and the like didn’t exactly whisper in my ear.) I wrote the spec story. Polished it. Then sent it out to magazines and later online publications. I met with marginal success. I did publish a few, but at the rate the stories piled up, I was likely to be submerged in an avalanche of speculative fiction.
Then last year, as I stumbled my way through the Twitterverse, I kept seeing these contests pop up. Anthologies centered around a certain genre, or contests with a theme. I said what the heck, and entered a few. Sure, I had to write up the story from scratch, but it was tailor made to this publication.
Nearly all the contests and anthologies I entered picked me up. I went from shoveling paper away from my computer to seeing my name in print. I have three that will appear this year—all of them written in the downtime between novels.
So if you yearn to see your name in print (and not from self-publishing) then scour the web for contests in your genre. If you’re willing to make it fit the publisher, they will often snatch it up.