You’ve been studying the craft and now you have stories you want to share with the world. You know they’re good. A trusted peer (not your mum) has encouraged you to submit.
Workshop to receive feedback and to catch spelling and grammatical errors that you often miss in your own work.
Find an appropriate journal/magazine. The Canadian Writer’s Market (book), Places for Writers (website), surfing the net, peers, and bios in the back of journals will help.
Read issues (buy, borrow from library, read/order online). Can you see your story here? Is it the right genre? Hopefully you have more than a few stories to choose from. I don’t subscribe to tweaking a story for location.
Follow guidelines related to formatting, word count, submission dates, SASE, etc. Start a file of magazines you submit to that includes addresses and guidelines – a great reference. Update with each subsequent submission as things change quickly in the writing world.
Cover letters should be short and sweet. Address them to the fiction editor. List publications and writing related education. You can mention a story you read and enjoyed from a recent issue to let them know you are familiar with their magazine. If you had previous feedback from the publication, give thanks.
Simultaneously submit There are a few places that say never ever, but who wants to submit a great story and wait 8 months to send it out again. If one story is accepted for publication, you simply email to say that unfortunately “your story” has been accepted elsewhere and you will e/mail them a new story.
Keep records of dates (sent & response) and locations. The business side of writing is important. You must stay organized. Ask for help if this isn’t your strong suit.
Be patient A 4-8 month response time is the norm, but you may wait a year or never hear back. After a year I don’t expect a response and often send something else. Once, I heard back after a year and a half. They said my story almost made the cut. Said story was accepted four months previous elsewhere so I took it as reinforcement and sent the slowpokes new fiction.
In the meantime… write, write, write, and continue to send out those amazing stories. I have a story, rejected ten times yet I continue to submit it because I believe in it and it has received positive feedback. Think of the submission process as background to the creative. I submit 2-3 stories a month which means there are usually 10-12 stories floating around in submission land at any give time.