Do you write a story before you find a market, or do you find a market before you write the story? Why do you work this way?
However, the process may not be as difficult as some newer writers imagine. Recently I corresponded with a man who was struggling to publish his first story. We discussed NY Times best-selling author Joe Hill, and whether or not he had an easier time breaking into the business because he was Stephen King’s son. The man reasoned that anyone with a family member so closely connected to the industry had access to every editor’s preferences. All Mr. Hill had to do was pick his father’s brain and, viola, instant sales, instant success. While I disagreed with the main thrust of his argument, he certainly had a point. Knowledge is power! However, I countered that every writer is on equal grounds, because every single issue and anthology an editor works on is stamped with their particular tastes--everything from POV, to prose style, to subject matter. In other words, you don’t need to be blessed with the genetic lottery. All you have to do is follow the suggestion that is present on most every writer’s guidelines: “Read an issue.”
On the other hand, trying to conform to a single market’s preferences can be limiting. It can kill the mood, staunch the flow of creative waters like a tampon in the pipeline. As such, sometimes I write a story first and then find the best match. Research always plays a part, of course, but not necessarily in the beginning. It all depends on where the muse leads.
Samuel Marzioli lives in Oregon, and often writes outside in the rain under an umbrella. His fiction has appeared in Stupefying Stories 1.8 and the January 2013 issue of Penumbra. Several other stories are forthcoming in Stupefying Stories, Space & Time Magazine and the "A Darke Phantastique" anthology by Cycatrix Press.
Learn more about Samuel Marzioli his blog.