The very best site I’ve found for learning about anthologies and other publishing opportunities is duotrope.com. There, they let you search, sort, and track markets. Speculative fiction writers can also use ralan.com. Horror writers might find the Library of the Living Dead forum useful, especially Other Publishers if you’re looking for a mix of opportunities.
Usually writers looking to publish are in one of two situations. Either you have a story and don’t know what to do with it, or you’re looking for ideas of what to write that someone will want. Duotrope.com will help you in both cases.
If you have an existing story you’re trying to get published then do a search on duotrope.com. You put in the genre, length, and what kind of payment level you’re looking for (from non-paying, token, through professional rates) and it will find fits. Then click on each match and use the link to the actual website. Find the market’s Submissions page to make sure your piece is a good fit with that market. Always follow the submission guidelines. I don’t say this to make you freak out, and possibly drive you to not submit at all. That is not the solution. Just pay attention to what they want, and the closer you match their needs the more likely you are to be selected.
If you are looking for interesting markets to write stories for, then I suggest looking at the calendar of themed magazines and anthologies on duotrope.com. I subscribe to Duotrope’s weekly email that lists these by the date they close. That way, I can see what’s coming up that I might like to submit to. I’ve found that anthologies give you the best odds of being selected for publication. You know precisely what they’re looking for and need right now.
Duotrope is also the site I use to track all my submissions. Using the information provided by all the other authors tracking their submissions, Duotrope creates metrics on numbers of submissions, how long it’s taking to get replies back, and what percent of submissions are being accepted. It makes me feel more in control than just waiting forever and hoping they’re actually going to reply at some point. Duotrope tells me if my wait is unusually longer than what other authors are suffering.
This is how I learned about the Live and Let Undead anthology looking for stories about working zombies. I already had a short story about zombies working outside the protective dome on a poisonous planet, but it was too long to meet their guidelines. Once I cut down the word count to fit, I knew I had a good shot at being selected. Now my story “The Killer with Eyes of Ice” is one of 18 stories in the anthology that just came out on Amazon.com.
I’ll also be in a couple other anthologies coming out this Spring. In addition to what Duotrope tracks, I’ve created a spreadsheet listing all my works and all my dream markets.
Once you know other people in the field and start making a name, it is easier to be invited to write. And wouldn’t we all like to have the work come to us for a change?