Even when I am sending in an older piece for publication, it takes two hours.
- Choose a publication.
I use the website Duotrope to organize my written pieces and search for publishing homes for them. I also use the Duotrope calendar to find calls for submissions, but that is another story...
Be sure to read the publisher's "About Us" and some of their issues. You want to know if your work is a good fit for them before you submit.
- Follow the Submission Guidelines.
The publisher should have these available on their website. If not, follow the basic manuscript format, which can be found online very easily, or in any good formatting book.
- Write your cover letter.
This standard business letter should include your name, contact info, and word count at the top, followed by the publication editor's name and contact info. DO learn the name of the editor/s, and DON'T address the letter generically. In the letter, briefly describe your story (elevator pitch) and genre, followed by your own brief bio - previous publications, relevant education or occupation history, and relevant associations (i.e. Horror Writers of America).
Here is an example.
- One Last Look!
Read over your story and run it through spellcheck or another editor's eyes even if it has already been edited. A fresh look can often reveal a missed word here or there or an older version - be sure to rename new versions you save!
Make sure your font is correct and your headers and footers are in place. (Name/Title/Pg#) Make sure your cover letter is correct. Make sure your name and contact info is correct and complete.
If electronic, write your email. Make it brief and professional. Attach your cover letter and your story, separately. Make sure they are attached before you hit 'send.' Make sure you proofread your email, as well, before sending it.
If sending a hard copy, be sure to only send what is requested. Check all publisher's websites for information regarding Unsolicited Manuscripts - even with short stories.
Okay! That's the gist of it. I sent in a sci-fi short to a sci-fi magazine that promises a response within 30 days. I will, of course, let you know how it goes.
Good luck on yours!