Ask a Book Question: The 54th in a Series (Hunting for Short Stories)

May 23, 2007 | 1 2 min read

“Troubled in Tacoma” writes in with this plea:

I find myself becoming increasingly upset about the fact that I can’t figure out where someone is publishing their new short stories. For example, just today I came across George Saunders’ new story, “Puppy” in the New Yorker. I was happy that I was able to come across it, but I was also upset by the fact that I came across it by sheer luck. I would love to know where and when writers are publishing. The best I do now is check out the latest issues of the literary journals and magazines that publish short stories. I also try to find writers’ websites to see if they post when they are publishing. I have also emailed writers a few times and asked them directly (I emailed Tom Kealey at one point to ask when his short story “Coyote Thieves” was coming out. He responded to me quickly and graciously.) I am all out of other ideas. I was hoping you might have some more advice. Maybe you know some websites that track when and where writers publish? I know you had a similar question about five months ago concerning book tours. I really wish there was something called IWDB (Internet Writers Database). I would join immediately. I would buy a lifetime subscription.

I would, too. Unfortunately, as with many other aspects of the literary world, the ecosystem of literary magazines is hopelessly decentralized. Making matters worse, literary magazines tend to have very short lifespans. Beyond the bigger name magazines, it’s hard to even know what’s out there. To the best of my knowledge, there are various library indexes that track stories and reference sites, like The Locus Index to Science Fiction, devoted to genre stories, but as far as I know, none of these would afford a reader a forward-looking view of what is coming out from various writers. (If there are librarians or readers out there who are better informed on the topic, please share your advice in the comments.)

Beyond that, your makeshift efforts are probably the best bet. What I would do if I were you is identify the magazines and writers I’d like to track. Many will have mailing lists that will notify members of upcoming publications, others might have regularly updated sites with RSS feeds that you might subscribe to (here’s how). In this way, you should be able to impose a little order on the helter skelter world of short stories to learn about new stories via email and RSS.

Anybody else have ideas?

created The Millions and is its publisher. He and his family live in New Jersey.

One comment:

  1. > Anybody else have ideas?

    Yes! Google has a "news alert" feature that will notify you whenever there's any news about any topic you're interested in. I've got a news alert set up for "George Saunders", so that anytime there's news about him, I see it.

    A few caveats:

    – When you set up a news alert, you've got a choice of seeing alerts about new "news", "blog entries", or both. Choose the blog entries, or both. Basically, I'm relying on the hypothesis that when a new Saunders story is published, SOMEONE will blog about it.

    – One downside is that you'll get info on EVERY writeup on George Saunders, and most of it's not all that useful. There are usually two or three a day, but luckily these all come in one email each day.

    – Another downside is that some of his writings might be missed, obviously. Did you know that Saunders has a weekly column in the Guardian (U.K.)? I didn't know that until recently, and I don't remember how I found out.

    – The google news alert is how I happened to see this particular question!

    Some authors have fansites or even their own sites where they list everything they write. Saunder doesn't have his own site yet, and the "official" fan site doesn't keep the least bit up to date, unfortunately.

    Uh… more info than you needed, probably. Hope it helps!

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