After several months of effort I have finally had my first story published, which you can find at www.everydayfiction.com/understanding-by-peter-jump. Here is a brief account of how it all happened...
In the first half of 2012 I'd concentrated on entering competitions. But after seeing a lot of money fly out of my PayPal account and nothing come back in I had started to lose interest in this area. In fact, it was comments from Jennifer Oliver at Storyslingers about her preferring to have her work published rather than pay to enter a comp that nudged me to try selling my work instead.
My first step was to identify likely publications for my style of writing using the Duotrope website (another suggestion from J Oliver). I then submitted stories in the specified formats. Some publishers responded within days, others several weeks.
In the case of the people who have just published my story, Everydayfiction.com, the response came 90 days later, by which time I'd more or less forgotten even sending them anything. Interestingly, I received an email with a list of comments on my writing from a half-dozen people involved in the selection process - slush readers, assistant editors and the chief editor herself. The upshot was that they liked my story but wanted a few changes.
The requested amendments were both reasonable and a source of valuable feedback on my writing. However, they went beyond what I would have expected, and required me to delete the opening section and enhance other elements of the story. This actually proved fairly easy and resulted in a story which, in truth, probably was a little better than the original. (Given that they receive 15 stories a day I was surprised they would go to the trouble of asking for significant rewrites. Did they especially like my story, or is it an indication of the standard of most of the writing they receive?)
I sent back the reworked story and two weeks later was told it was accepted. The following month, 23 February, it was published on the website (and also sent to the inboxes of thousands of subscribers).
Having my work read, commented on and rated by total strangers has been quite a thrill, and I would definitely recommend anyone who has so far only been writing for their own pleasure to give publishing a try. It costs nothing, and if you're successful you might even get paid a little something for your efforts.
Find my story, Understanding, at http://www.everydayfiction.com/understanding-by-peter-jump/