Douglas Smith is a five-time award-winning author described by Library Journal as "one of Canada's most original writers of speculative fiction."

His latest work is the multi-award-winning YA urban fantasy trilogy, The Dream Rider Saga (The Hollow Boys, The Crystal Key, and The Lost Expedition). Other books include the urban fantasy novel, The Wolf at the End of the World; the collections, Chimerascope, Impossibilia, and La Danse des Esprits (translated); and the writer's guide Playing the Short Game: How to Market & Sell Short Fiction.

His short fiction has appeared in the top markets in the field, including The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Amazing Stories, InterZone, Weird Tales, Baen's Universe, Escape Pod, On Spec, and Cicada.

"The man is Sturgeon good. Zelazny good. I don't give those up easy." —Spider Robinson, Hugo and Nebula Awards winner

"A great storyteller with a gifted and individual voice." —Charles de Lint, World Fantasy Award winner

"His stories are a treasure trove of riches that will touch your heart while making you think." —Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo and Nebula Awards winner

Playing the Short Game - Second Edition by Douglas Smith

Published in 27 languages, Doug is a 4-time winner of Canada's Aurora Award, most recently in 2023 for The Hollow Boys, as well as the juried IAP Award for the same book. He's been a finalist for the Astounding Award, CBC's Bookies Award, Canada's juried Sunburst Award, the juried Alberta Magazine Award for Fiction, and France's juried Prix Masterton and Prix Bob Morane.


Some of you may have seen Playing The Short Game before, but that was the first edition. Doug has made significant changes to the second edition, with new chapters on things that didn't even exist when the first edition came out. The advice on craft remains as good as ever, and the new techniques on marketing…let's just say I might take up a few of those myself. This new edition is exclusive to this bundle. – Kristine Kathryn Rusch



  • "Lots of writers write good books on craft. Few have the experience to write good books on the publishing business. Doug is one of those few, and this book shows it. … An indispensable book for those of us who love to write short fiction. … [Doug is] one of the best short story writers in the business, and one of the best at the business of short story writing. … So, if you have any interest in writing short fiction, or you're already making a living at short fiction, take a peek at this book. It's wonderful."

    – Kristine Kathryn Rusch, multi-award-winning author and editor
  • "Doug Smith is, quite simply, the finest short story writer Canada has ever produced in the science fiction and fantasy genres, and he's also the most prolific. His stories are a treasure trove of riches that will touch your heart while making you think."

    – Robert J. Sawyer, Nebula & Hugo Award-winning author
  • "I can't tell you what you should write. That's entirely up to you. But if you are the least bit interested in having a career as a fiction writer then I can tell you what to read: Douglas Smith's Playing the Short Game: How to Market & Sell Short Fiction. From now on this is my go-to book for all things related to starting and maintaining my fiction writing career."

    – Filip Wiltgren, writer and game designer




The first edition of this book came out in 2014. Yikes. That's a decade ago, for those who don't do math. Ever so much changes in any decade, and that includes short fiction markets and how best to market and sell to them.

I give workshops regularly based on this book, and I noticed I was incorporating a lot of new information and advice in those workshops that weren't in these pages. Information and advice that reflected either knowledge I'd gained since 2014, changes in the professional short fiction landscape in that time, answers to questions from writers who'd reached out after reading the first edition, or just things I wanted to add to this one.

Since this book is my way of paying it forward, to help beginning writers in the way so many established pros helped me when I started, I want this guide to stay as current as possible, reflecting the state of short fiction publishing today.

So here it is, all new and improved and spiffy, as up-to-date as I can make it. An incomplete list of the revisions and new stuff you'll find in this edition includes:

•More benefits of writing short fiction and ways to leverage your stories;

•Additional information on copyright, including the difference between copyright and the various rights you may grant on your fiction;

•More on licensing rights for short fiction, especially occurrence rights, including exceptions to the rules around first rights;

•The new standards and protocols for manuscript formatting and cover letters;

•New trends in submitting to short fiction markets;

•Update to what is defined today as a "professional" per word rate;

•Updated sources for short fiction markets, both new ones and dead ones;

•New submission tracking tools;

•More on record keeping, including tracking payments received and withholding taxes;

•When and how to withdraw a story from a market;

•More on short fiction contracts, including a new section on requesting changes to an offered contract;

•More advice on selling reprints, including how to handle suggested edits to previously published stories;

•Caveats on the quality of both translations and audio adaptations of your stories;

•An entirely rewritten section on indie publishing, for short fiction in general and a collection in particular;

•Updated examples drawn from my own experiences in marketing and selling short fiction over the past decade;

•New and updated online resources throughout the book;

•My plea to short fiction publishers, along with my definition of the ideal short fiction market; and,

•Lots more (no, really, lots more).

Thanks for picking up this guide. If it's your first experience with my advice, I promise I will help you. If you're a veteran from the first edition, thanks for your continued support.

Good luck with your writing dreams!

Who This Book Is For

I wrote this book for the beginning short fiction writer who wants to learn how best to market and sell their stories. More experienced writers will also find value in these pages, but my target audience is the beginning writer.

Also, although many of my examples in this book relate to genre short fiction—science fiction (SF), fantasy, mystery, horror (since that's what I write myself)—the advice I give applies to all and any short fiction.

What This Book Will Cover

In Section One, we will set a foundation for the rest of the book and your short fiction career. I ask you to consider why you are writing and what kind of writer you are at this point in your career. I ask you to consider also the career you want as a writer and what you are willing to invest to achieve your dream. We then review the many benefits of writing short fiction for any writer planning a long-term career. Finally, we look at why you never actually "sell" a story and learn about licensing rights for short fiction.

With this critical foundation in place, you will be ready for Section Two, which covers everything you must understand about marketing and selling a story. We start with learning how to know when your story is ready to send out and what steps to take to ensure it is. Next, we cover finding markets and how to select the right first market for your story. We'll discuss how to submit stories, how to handle rejections, and what to do with stories that keep being rejected. You'll also learn how editors decide on what stories they choose to purchase and what ones they reject.

In Section Three, we begin the happier topic of what happens when you sell a story. Here, we'll cover short fiction contracts, working with editors, dealing with reviews, and what to expect after you sell your first story.

In Section Four, we move into topics of relevance to writers who have begun to sell regularly and are building their backlist—their inventory of published stories. Here we talk about different ways to leverage the rights to your fiction, including selling reprints, selling translations, and publishing collections. We close off this section with a look at indie publishing options for short fiction writers.

Finally, in Section Five, we consider the longer-term aspects of a short fiction career once a writer has multiple story sales, and how you can leverage your short fiction into a novel writing career.