I shined up some literary short stories I wrote and, after doing some decent market research, sent them to literary magazines. Shockingly, in my first round of submissions, I got accepted and published by a small, but definitely national journal, and paid $100, which was huge for my self-esteem. I’ve now sent out three rounds of submissions and am working on a 4th – and I just had a second story accepted last month! My advice is, revise and edit your best work, skim lots of journals to see who publishes stuff like you write, follow the submission guidelines exactly, and GO FOR IT! Even the rejection letters can make you feel brave, and sometimes they have nice notes on them. Good luck :)
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Yes, fiction. I write ethnic literary fiction in basically the same vein as Sandra Cisneros or Julia Alvarez. My “big” goal is a short story collection in book form, so I’m making my stories linked together through a single family and group of friends. But getting articles published is also doable, it’s just slightly different because I think you have to query before sending the piece.
It’s nice to try out the short story market because you can actually get published without an agent (and you can’t with a book.) Then when you write a whole book and start querying agents, you have something to say – “my short fiction has been published in X and X magazines.” Good luck!