Although I prefer long fiction, I do write the occasional short story and I try to submit them for publication. By and large, I've failed. In the meantime, though, I've developed a "cheat sheet" for the different markets, which allows me to scan through the list and decide where my story has the best shot. It's by no means exhaustive, but it's a good place for the aspiring writer to start.
Rather than splash my work everywhere, I decided to be ambitious and try for the best of the best. Therefore, with few exceptions, most of the markets on the list are:
- Trustworthy: These are professionally published magazines, not scam artists. Most of these magazines get exclusive worldwide rights to your story for a year. You still own that copyright and once that year expires, you can post your work wherever you please. I said most, but I don't make that guarantee. Always read the contract and make sure you know what you're getting into.
- Cost-Effective: They pay well. On top of that, there are no reading fees or nonsense of that type. I'm already a broke writer. I'm not going to be nickel and dimed. Many of the magazines do suggest you read them before submitting. However, many also offer free content on their website. So the list also doubles as a great place to hunt down free short stories.
- Prestigious: Many of the magazines have won awards and published famous authors. If you publish here, you can brag about it on your resume.
- Difficult: Of these markets, I've been published only once in Daily Science Fiction, after about five tries. It takes a lot of persistence and heart-ache to make it.
- Slow: Most of these places don't allow multiple submissions, which means you can only submit one story at a time, or simultaneous submissions, which means you can only submit that story to them. Response times vary from a few days to a few months. To top it off, occasionally they get too many stories and refuse to take any new submissions until who knows when!
In general, these are the kinds of things the magazines are looking for:
- They want your original work. Nothing based off TV shows or movies or books, even ones where the copyright has expired.
- They want things that have never been published. Nowadays I think that includes websites, so don't post it to your blog or put it in your Writer's Group's anthology unless you're absolutely sure it's all right.
- They do not want queries. Don't try to pitch them an idea for a short story. Just send them the completed manuscript.
- They want it edited. It doesn't have to be absolutely perfect, but it should be pretty darn close.
- They do not want re-writes. If they reject you, just take it to the next publisher ands move on.
- They want manuscripts submitted electronically. Very few will take mailed manuscripts. Plus, you have to pay postage and printing and that adds up.
- They do not want emails. Most have their own service where you can log in and submit. This is to reduce the risk of a virus infection.
- They want it formatted their way. This could mean anything from what font you use to what sort of document you can submit to whether or not you need a cover letter. Before you submit, take a few minutes to review their rules, lest you accidentally disqualify yourself over nothing.
One last note. I've focused on markets for short stories, but many of these magazines offer opportunities for artists, poets, and nonfiction writers. So if you have interests in those fields, you may want to look into some of these.
Daily Science Fiction
Web Address: http://dailysciencefiction.com
Submission Info: http://dailysciencefiction.com/submit
Type of Magazine: Daily Online Magazine (Free)
Pay Rate: 8 cents a word
Interested In: Flash Fiction (between 100-1500 words) with speculative elements. Flash fiction series are fine, just note it in your cover letter
Not Interested In: Horror, Erotica, Military SF
How to Submit: Create Author Account and Log In. Submit manuscript in plain text on web form. (Basically, copy and paste.) Write "End" at the end of your story. Do not put your name, email, etc. in the manuscript--that goes in the account. Cover letters not needed; just put in your name.
Other Info: Since it's free, why not subscribe to Daily Science Fiction and wake up to find a short story in your email box every morning, Mon-Fri? Short stories are archived on their website. The submission process goes in two rounds. In Round One, they eliminate 80% of the stories they receive. In Round Two, they eliminate half of the Round One stories. If you make it past that, your story will be published.
Web Address: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/
Submission Info: https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/glines.htm
Type of Magazine: Print and Digital Bimonthly Magazine (Subscription)
Pay Rate: 7-12 cents per word
Interested In: Fiction, up to 25,000 words. They get too much fantasy, not enough SF or Humor
How to Submit: Submit through mail or through website, using a .doc, .docx, or rtf file.
Other Info: They are extremely picky on how the manuscript is prepared and have a sample document listed here: http://www.sfwa.org/2008/11/manuscript-preparation/
Web Address: http://clarkesworldmagazine.com
Submission Info: http://clarkesworldmagazine.com/submissions/
Type of Magazine: Hugo award-winning Monthly Print/ Digital Magazine (Subscription)
Pay Rate: 10 cents a word for the first 4000 words, 7 cents a word after that
Interested In: Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Fiction from 1000-8000 words, though 4000 preferred.
Not Interested In: Extensive gore, sex, profanity. Also, they have an entire long list of cliches/ themes they're tired of on the information page
How to Submit: Submit online. Your name and contact information go on an online form. Your credentials go on the cover letter. Your manuscript can be submitted as a .doc or .rtf file. Response time is usually 2 days
Web Address: http://www.intergalacticmedicineshow.com
Submission Info: http://www.intergalacticmedicineshow.com/cgi-bin/mag.cgi?do=content&article=submissions
Type of Magazine: Bimonthly Digital Magazine (Subscription)
Pay Rate: 6 cents a word
Interested In: Fantasy and SF of any length
Not Interested In: Anything above a PG-13 Rating
How to Submit: Type your email address into their online submission form and they will email instructions on how to submit. Include your contact information in your manuscript. Up to 3 months response time.
Web Address: http://www.beneath-ceaseless-skies.com
Submission Info: http://www.beneath-ceaseless-skies.com/submissions/
Type of Magazine: Biweekly Digital Magazine (Free through email, Subscription for Kindle)
Pay Rate: 6 cents a word
Interested In: "Literary Adventure Fantasy" That is, character-driven fantasy set in a well-developed and unique secondary world. Steampunk and Weird West is okay. They prefer under 10,000 words.
Not Interested: SF, Urban Fantasy, Fairy Tales, Myths, Slapstick Humor
How to Submit: Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. The subject line should read "Submission: (Title of Your Story)" If you don't include the word "Submission" the spam filter will delete it. The manuscript should be prepared in Standard Manuscript Format (for a good example, see the link at The Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy). Include contact info in the manuscript. Must be .doc or .rtf. NO .docx. If worse comes to worse, paste text directly onto email. Include cover letter with your credentials, but without a synopsis. Response time is usually 2-4 weeks.
Web Address: http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com
Submission Info: http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/about/guidelines/
Type of Magazine: Hugo award-winning Digital Monthly Magazine (Free online content with Subscription options)
Pay Rate: 8 cents a word
Interested In: Fantasy and SF of 1500-7500 words, 5000 words preferred. Also accepts 12 novellas a year.
Not Interested In: Erotica, poetry, fanfiction
How to Submit: Stories must be submitted online through Moshka Online Submission System. Contact information is included on the form. On the cover letter, please include story length, publishing history, and credentials. Manuscripts must be prepared in Standard Manuscript Format (They give this link: http://www.shunn.net/format/story.html) .rtf or .doc only
Other Info: They are interested in diversity. As of writing this, they are open for submissions for their "Queers Destroy Science Fiction" special, which means that only stories written by someone identifying as "queer" are accepted. Also as of now, it is closed for normal submission due to high volume and doesn't say when it will be open.
Asimov's Science Fiction
Web Address: www.asimovs.com
Submission Info: http://www.asimovs.com/info/guidelines.shtml
Type of Magazine: Monthly Print Magazine (Subscription)
Pay Rate: 8-10 cents for up to 7500 words; 8-8.5 cents after; $1 per line of poetry, up to 40 lines
Interested In: Character-driven SF, from 1000-20,000 words
Not Interested In: Borderline fantasy is okay, but no Sword and Sorcery
How to Submit: Online Submission SystemContact information is included on the form. On the cover letter, please include story length, publishing history, and credentials. Manuscripts must be prepared in Standard Manuscript Format (http://www.shunn.net/format/story.html) .rtf, .doc, .docx Response time usually 5 weeks
Other Info: accepts mailed submissions, too
Web Address: http://www.analogsf.com/
Submission Info: http://www.analogsf.com/information/submissions.shtml
Type of Magazine: Monthly Print Magazine (Subscription)
Pay Rate: 8-10 cents for up to 7500 words; 8-8.5 cents after; 6 cents per word for serials; 9 cents a word for fact-based articles; $1 per line of poetry, up to 40 lines
Interested In: SF stories in which future science or technology plays an integral role in the plot. They prefer short stories 2000-7000 words,. novellas 10,000-20,000 words, and serials 40,000-80,000 words. They also accept fact-based Nonfiction written in lay terms about 4000 words and poetry
How to Submit: Online Submission SystemContact information is included on the form. On the cover letter, please include story length, publishing history, and credentials. Manuscripts must be prepared in Standard Manuscript Format (http://www.shunn.net/format/story.html) .doc only Response time usually 2-3 months
Other Info: Reluctantly accepts mailed submissions
Web Address: http://www.apex-magazine.com/?et_no_mobile=1
Submission Info: http://www.apex-magazine.com/submission-guidelines/
Type of Magazine: Monthly Digital Magazine (Subscription)
Pay Rate: 6 cents a word for fiction, plus an additional 1 cent per word if they choose to podcast your story; poetry is 25 cents per line
Interested In: Fantasy, SF, Horror. In their words, "Works full of marrow and passion, stories that are twisted, strange, and beautiful." Fiction up to 7500 words. Poetry up to 200 lines.
How to Submit: It seems like you can either email editor Lesley Conner at email@example.com or submit an online form. I don't see any information on types of documents. Manuscripts must be prepared in Standard Manuscript Format (http://www.shunn.net/format/story.html) Up to 5 poems may be submitted at a time
Other Info: Your story may be selected for a podcast and will be forever archived on the website, though you still have the rights to publish your story elsewhere after the contract expires
Web Address: http://www.strangehorizons.com
Submission Info: http://www.strangehorizons.com/Guidelines.shtml (general) http://www.strangehorizons.com/guidelines/fiction.php (fiction)
Type of Magazine: Weekly Online Magazine (Free)
Pay Rate: 8 cents a word
Interested In: Speculative Fiction: SF, Fantasy, some Horror up to 10,000 words, though 5000 is preferred.
Not Interested In: They have a whole list of tired plots here: http://www.strangehorizons.com/guidelines/fiction-common.shtml
How to Submit: Send your story to the submission gateway; NO EMAILS. (Note: the submission gateway closes if they receive too many stories, but reopens every night at midnight Eastern time.) Cover letter optional. Response time 40 days.
Other Info: "Strange Horizons is incorporated as a non-profit corporation in the state of Utah, USA. With an all-volunteer staff and a limited budget for advertising and self-promotion, the magazine's financial resources are devoted to professionally compensating writers for publication rights to their works." In addition to fiction, they are also looking for art, poetry, nonfiction, podcast readers, and reviews.
Web Address: http://www.cicadamag.com
Submission Info: https://cricketmag.submittable.com/submit/17820
Type of Magazine: Print and Digital Bimonthly Magazine geared to a YA Audience (14+) (Subscription)
Pay Rate: up to 25 cents a word for fiction; up to $3.00 a line for poetry
Interested In: Fiction, all genres, from flash fiction to 9,000 words; Nonfiction up to 5,000 words; Poetry
How to Submit: Must create an account; NO EMAILS. Send completed manuscript as a .doc, .docx, .txt., or .rtf file. Include word count (fiction/ nonfiction) or line count (manuscripts) and phone, email, and mailing address. Allow 3-6 months response time.
Other Info: Their "Creative Endeavors" section is open exclusively to writers age 14-23. It seems to be more of a contest and has different themes.
Web Address: http://www.cicadamag.com
Submission Info: http://www.cricketmag.com/25-Submission-Guidelines-for-CRICKET-magazine-for-children-ages-9-14
Type of Magazine: Children's Literary Magazine (Age 9-14) (Subscription)
Pay Rate: 25 cents a word for Fiction and Articles; up to $3.00 a line for poetry; $75 flat rate for activities
Interested In: Contemporary Fiction; Historical Fiction; SF and Fantasy; Myths, Legends, and Folklore. 600-900 word stories preferred; 1200-1800 word stories acceptable; they will occasionally serialize stories up to 6000 words. Also interested in Nonfiction, Poetry, and Activities
Not Interested In: Sex, disturbing situations, abuse
How to Submit: Go to the online submission form "Submittable," register/ login-in, and follow instructions. NO mailed submissions or emails.
Other Info: Cricket is part of a Media Group that has several other magazines (including Cicada) aimed at a younger audience.
Web Address: http://flashfictiononline.com/main/
Submission Info: http://flashfictiononline.com/main/submission-guidelines/
Type of Magazine: Online Monthly Magazine (Free Email or Subscribe)
Pay Rate: $60
Interested In: Complete stories from 500-1000 words. A particular fondness for SF and Fantasy, but all genres welcome
Not Interested In: Poetry. Anything over 1000 words. See this list: http://flashfictiononline.com/main/submission-guidelines/hard-sells/ No erotica, porn, graphic sex, or violence.
How to Submit: Submit online using Submishmash. Click on your genre, create an account/ log in, and submit. Format in Times New Roman or Courier New font, 12 pt. Double spaced, left alignment, one-inch margins. NO author name or information anywhere in your manuscript. (They want anonymity.) Put name and info in cover letter. doc., rtf., txt. only. NO docx.
Web Address: http://www.writersofthefuture.com
Submission Info: http://www.writersofthefuture.com/contest-rules-writers/
Type of Magazine: NA
Pay Rate: Prizes of $500, $750, and $1000 awarded every quarter; one grand prize of $5000 awarded every year
Interested In: SF and Fantasy short stories and novelettes of up to 17,000 words written by non-professional writers
Not Interested In: Poetry, children's story
How to Submit: The Contest is open only to those who have not professionally published a novel or short novel, or more than one novelette, or more than three short stories, in any medium. Only amateur writers need apply! Can send via mail or through the website. Entries submitted electronically must be double-spaced and must include the title and page number on each page, but not the author’s name. (This also goes for printed version--they want it anonymous.)
Other Info: Contestants retain all rights to their work. No entry fee. Writers judged by professional authors. Winners work goes in anthology. Illustrators of the Future Contest as well.
* This is a less traditional market, and the stuff I wrote about in the "What Kind of Markets?" section doesn't necessarily apply. However, I'm adding it because I have experience publishing on it.
Web Address: http://www.etherbooks.com
Submission Info: http://writers.etherbooks.com/EtherLogin.aspx?ReturnUrl=%2fdefault.aspx
Type of Magazine: UK-based Free App that let's Readers purchase stories or read for free
Pay Rate: 0-??? (Ether decides whether your book is available for free or for a cost. If your short story can be purchased, your payment comes as 20% of sales.)
Interested In: Stories and Poems of all genres under 6000 words
How to Submit: Create an author's account. DO not sign up for silver membership unless you want to pay money. Submit word document. Response in 90 days.
Other Info: Last year, I wrote an article about publishing on Ether here: http://rebeccalangfantasy.blogspot.com/2014/01/publishing-on-ether.html The three stories I've submitted were all accepted, but I didn't actually get paid for any of them.
Want even more places to submit? Scan these websites for a list.
The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America
The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America has a list of Qualifying Professional Markets for Short Fiction, which basically means a list of reliable, professional short story publishers who pay well.
Storyville: Where to Send Your Stories
My friend Ned gave me this link and it's very extensive. The article includes lower paying publishers, different genres, and thoughts about the particular publishers.