Today I’d like to talk about what sort of writing resume I’m looking for in a query letter, and specifically about short story credits.
In On Writing, Stephen King tells authors that it’s important to have at least a few published short stories listed in their query letters when they start writing to agents. I hate to say this, but at least in science fiction and fantasy, King is wrong. There are many small publications that accept nearly any short story sent to them.
If you list that you have been published by SF & F or Asimov’s, or you are a Writers of the Future Finalist, I will nearly always request your manuscript, unless the novel is not to my taste. If you list another well-respected publication (ASIM, Clarkesworld, Apex, Strange Horizons, etc.), I will read your query letter with special care. If you’re a member of Codex or SFWA, this will indicate a pro sale to me even if you don’t name the specific magazine, and again, I’ll pay special attention to your query letter.
If you have been published by Angry Warthog Magazine (note– does not actually exist), it will not affect my process in any way. Even if you were published there twice.
Have I gotten you nervous? Don’t be– plenty of the manuscripts I request were written by authors with no writing credits at all. That’s because not all good short story writers are good novelists, and vice versa.