Storyville: Where to Send Your Stories
This is going to be a long article filled with lots of names and numbers, but I think when you really soak it all up and study the various genres, it won’t be as intimidating and overwhelming as you may think. I can remember attending my first AWP conference (Association of Writers and Writing Programs) in NYC back in 2008. I walked into the book fair and almost had a panic attack. AWP is one of the largest writing conferences in the nation, and the tables, the people—there were THOUSANDS of writers and editors and publications. For hours I walked around and talked to people at well-known places like Tin House and W. W. Norton, as well as smaller independents like Dzanc Books and Hobart. I filled up my briefcase with journals, magazines and books, spending hundreds of dollars. But by the end of the week, I felt like I had seen a lot, absorbed a great deal—and I realized that it was finite, not endless. I could actually wrap my head around the idea, the scope of publishing in the 21st century. And that’s a good thing.
Your approach to publishing is going to be very specific, and personal—these are your goals, your hopes and dreams, your aspirations. Whatever advice I give you today, whatever lists I make, these are based on my needs. Yes, I will try to represent the best publications across many different genres, the main genres, but in the end, I can only talk about journals, magazines, and websites that appeal to me. You may not like the places I list, or they may not be appropriate for your work. In the end it’s up to YOU to do the research, to make your own lists, and to start building a network around your writing that will hopefully, ultimately, support your writing career.
You need to figure out what’s important to you. Do you need to get paid, and how much? Do you want to be in print or online (there are benefits to both)? Do you write in one genre or many? Do you want to publish exclusively in print journals to beef up your CV? Are you chasing elite white whales that have an acceptance rate of less than 1%? These are all valid goals—so just make sure that you are very aware of what you want to do. Don’t compare your goals, or your successes (or failures) to other writers, here at LR or out in the world—it will drive you crazy. Be patient, be thorough, and have fun with it. Nobody can support your writing like you can.
I’ll be very brief about this, but I wanted to share my approach to submitting. Basically, when I’m done with a story, I think about where it should go. And not every story I write is submitted to the same place. I know that a horror story that would be great for Cemetery Dance is not something I should send to The Missouri Review. Once I figure out the genre (or genres) for my story, I go over my list at Duotrope (yes, pay the $50, yes use all of their features) and searching WITHIN my favorites (300+ publications) I narrow it down and sort it by pay and tiers. What does that mean? Yes, I want to get paid, and more often these days that is my top priority, but I’m also realistic, and I’d rather publish a story in an elite magazine and not get paid than not publish at all. I do set a minimum, I know “how low” I want to go with a story, and I never submit to anyplace that makes me feel like I’m settling. I send my stories to the best publications—I always start at the top, so that means the best pay, the most prestigious, the hardest to get into, and then I work my way down. By down, I mean less pay, and less pay, until there is no pay, but again, never settling for anyplace that I don’t deem worthy. I send my stories far and wide, usually hitting 10 markets at a time, at least. Sometimes I’ll get accepted in days, but more likely it’ll take months. Be patient, and take note—simultaneous submissions are your friend.
WHERE I’VE PUBLISHED
Before I give you the list of where I want to be, I thought it might be helpful to show you where I’ve been. I’ve published over 65 stories, online and in print. Here is where my stories have gone. I can honestly say that only about 20% of these are paying markets. As you’ll see, I started out at smaller publications and worked my way up. Unfortunately, some of the places I’ve published at are no longer around. When I say AT it typically means online, when I say IN it typically means print (or digital, such as PDF or eBook).
"Flowers for Jessica" in Weird Fiction Review #3 (Centipede Press)
"Fireflies" at Circa Review (reprint)
"Ten Steps" at The Dying Goose (reprint)
"Something's Broken" at Flywheel Magazine
"Bringing In the Sheaves" at Beat the Dust
“On a Bent Nail Head” in Nova Parade (Solarcide)
"Divining" in Curbside Splendor #3
"Tinkering With the Moon" in Gargoyle #58
"Fireflies" in Polluto #9
"Rudy Jenkins Buries His Fears" in Slices of Flesh (Dark Moon Books)
"Dyer" at Beat to a Pulp
"The Handyman" at Conjectural Figments
"Misty" at ManArchy
"Transmogrify" in Dark Moon Presents: Vampires (Dark Moon Books) (reprint)
"The Jenny Store" in In Search Of a City: L.A. in 1,000 Words (Thunderdome)
"Kiss Off" in Emprise Review #21
"Buried" at Rotten Leaves
“Transmogrify” in Terror Scribes (Dog Horn Publishing) (reprint)
"Death Knell" at Thunderdome
"Twenty Reasons to Stay and One to Leave" at Metazen
"Love Letters" at Cannoli Pie
"Underground Wonder Bound" in Noir at the Bar, Volume 1 (reprint)
"Seeing Red" in Crime Factory #7
"Say Yes to Pleasure" in Warmed and Bound
"Herniated Roots" in Speedloader (Snubnose Press)
"Daybreak" at Stepaway Magazine
"After She Has Gone" at Shotgun Honey
"Gateway" at Dirty Noir
"Ten Steps" at ChiZine (The Chiaroscuro)
"Splintered" at PANK
"Stillness" in Shivers VI (Cemetery Dance)
"Victimized" in Murky Depths #15
"Terrapin Station" in Pear Noir #5
"Released" at Outsider Writers Collective
"Transmogrify" in Eternal Night: A Vampire Anthology (Living Dead Press)
"Condemned" at Cherry Bleeds
"Honor" in Colored Chalk #10
"Interview" at Troubadour 21
"Your Enemies Will Devour You" in The Oddville Press
"Paying Up" in Colored Chalk #8
"A Bird in the Hand" at 3:AM Magazine
"Three Mistakes" at Word Riot
"Twenty-Dollar Bill" in Colored Chalk #7
"Unzipped" at Dogmatika
"Underground Wonder Bound" in Vain #5
"Freedom" at Nefarious Muse
"Fate" in Cause & Effect #5
"Amazement" in Colored Chalk #5
"Fringe" in Colored Chalk #4
"Fallible" in Colored Chalk #3
"Committed" in Colored Chalk #2
"Steel-Toed Boots" in Colored Chalk #1
"Redemption" in Gold Dust Magazine #15
"Animal Magnetism" at Opium Magazine
Okay, here are the lists. I’m going to add my BIG LIST at the end of this article, but for now I’m going to break it down by genre. Obviously there will be some overlap, so keep that in mind. I’m searching only for short stories, so for flash, novellas, etc. just be aware of this. Most places that take flash fiction also take short stories.
Doing a quick search on Duotrope, there are 256 professional paying markets (.05 a word and up). Of those, there are 28 for horror, 43 for fantasy, 17 for crime/thrillers, and 189 for literary fiction. Obviously there are a lot more literary markets out there, about 2,000 according to my searches, with only about 10% paying professional rates. There are about 139 that pay semi-pro rates (.01-.05 a word) and 104 that pay token rates (.01 a word or less). That leaves about 1,600 literary markets that do not pay anything—just something to chew on. Of my personal list of favorites (356 markets, across many genres) there are 63 that pay something, with 21 paying professional rates, 13 paying semi, and 15 paying token rates. I have a total of 220 literary markets in my favorites list, so that leaves a whopping 157 that don’t pay anything at all. And this is a list of publications that, in theory, are all top-notch magazines and journals, all places I want to be. We’ve been talking about pay rates lately at Lit Reactor so just keep some of these numbers in mind.
I have 50 markets listed for horror. Of them, 16 pay pro rates, 14 semi to pro, 9 at token rates, leaving 11 that don’t pay at all. I’m only going to talk about semi pro and higher here, the rest will be on the big list:
|Clockwork Phoenix: Tales of Beauty and Strangeness||Black Static|
|Buzzy Mag||Dark Discoveries|
|LORE||GUD: Greatest Uncommon Denominator|
|Penumbra||Innsmouth Free Press|
|One Buck Horror||Mixer|
|Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show||Nightfall|
GENERAL THOUGHTS: Clarkesworld is elite, Apex is very cool, LORE is a reboot of a well regarded publication. I’ve published at Chiaroscuro and One Buck Horror, Cemetery Dance is fantastic (often closed, and very slow), Shimmer and Shock Totem are two I’ve been chasing for a long time, GUD, too, and Nightmare and Lamplight are newer, as is Nightfall. On my list of non-paying, I’ve published at Beat to a Pulp, Conjectural Figments, and Surreal Grotesque. I also like Uncanny Valley and Hyperpulp.
You will start to see some repeats here. Many publications that like dark fiction are open to fantasy/sci-fi, horror, and even crime/thrillers. I have 55 on my list, with 19 paying pro rates or above, 13 paying semi and up, 8 with a token payment, leaving 15 non-paying markets. Again, I’ll only list the semi and higher below.
Clockwork Phoenix: Tales of Beauty and Strangeness
Analog (SF only)
Asimov (SF only)
Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Daily Science Fiction
Fantasy & Science Fiction (F&SF)
Nightland (SF only)
Abyss & Apex
Innsmouth Free Press
GENERAL THOUGHTS: On places I haven’t already mentioned, I’m a big fan of F&SF and I still mail them stories, with a stamp—seriously. I don’t write as much F/SF as I do horror/neo-noir, so I know less about these markets. BUT, obviously Asimov and Analog are two big names, as is Tor. Beneath Ceaseless Skies is cool. Lightspeed is a hot market. I forgot to mention Orson Scott Card’s website, but he’s a huge name in the business, but they only want content up to PG-13. Bourbon Penn is a little bit easier to get into, and I like them a lot, as well as Electric Velocipede. White Cat Publications has several new lines, Conjurings their fantasy, Blue Shift their SF, Nightfall their horror, and Dark Intent their noir. GUD is a market I really love, but they are always closed, and very hard to get into.
There are really very few markets for crime writers these days. That’s why it’s great to find a market that is open to fantasy, SF, horror and crime. You should be able to squeeze in there with dark fiction in general. I’m going to combine crime, mystery, thrillers and suspense into one category here, but be aware that there is a wide range within these 27 markets. Only three pay pro rates, five at semi and up, four paying a token amount, and the rest paying nothing. Tough racket, these guys, but if anything, that will help you to focus.
GENERAL THOUGHTS: Hitchcock and EQ are the big names, but they are also pretty straight. I don’t think I have to say (or maybe I do) that you must do your research and READ what is in these various publications. Go to the library and check them out, buy them cheap at used bookstores, get a subscription, swap copies with friends, or read the work online. What Hitch and EQ want compared to Shroud is very different. Dark Intent is a new White Cat rag, and I dig them a lot. I really like Shroud a lot, too. Of the non-paying not listed, that I haven’t mentioned before, I’ve published at Flywheel, Punchnel’s, and Crime Factory, and really love Needle.
This is a huge list, so please do consult the BIG LIST later for more ideas. I’m going to make a couple of different sub-lists here, since there are hundreds of literary journals out there. A new policy that some journals are adopting is charging MANDATORY fees to submit. I’ve put an asterisk next to those. I don’t like this approach, but if the postage is the same, I MAY pay it.
Virginia Quarterly Review
GENERAL THOUGHTS: Wow, what a list. But only 21 markets here, out of MY favorites. I’d pretty much love to publish with any of these. Tin House is not only cool, but also elite. Atlantic, New Yorker, Paris Review, impossible to get into, and I wonder if they actually do read the slush pile. I have sent many stories to Missouri Review and Ploughshares. All of these are very hard to get into.
GENERAL THOUGHTS: Love Black Warrior. These are all very difficult to get into.
New Ohio Review
New Orleans Review*
GENERAL THOUGHTS: Cincinnati Review is open to some wild stuff, magical realism and whatnot. One Story is a great tiny independent rag that really carries a lot of weight.
THE MOST DIFFICULT
I just wanted to list the most exclusive markets at Duotrope to show you where some of the overlap is. (There’s also a list of EASIEST markets there, but you can do better than that).
1. Tin House (0.11 %)
2. Mid-American Review (0.21 %)
3. Ninth Letter (0.21 %)
4. Shimmer (0.23 %)
5. The Threepenny Review (0.26 %)
6. Clarkesworld Magazine (0.27 %)
7. The Collagist (0.27 %)
8. Ploughshares (0.29 %)
9. Glimmer Train (0.32 %)
10. Hayden's Ferry Review (0.33 %)
11. Fugue (0.34 %)
12. Fantasy & Science Fiction (F&SF) (0.35 %)
13. The Cincinnati Review (0.36 %)
14. Asimov's Science Fiction (0.38 %)
15. Word Riot (0.38 %)
16. Crazyhorse (0.38 %)
17. Five Points (0.4 %)
18. Alaska Quarterly Review (0.48 %)
19. Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine (0.49 %)
20. West Branch (0.5 %)
21. The Paris Review (0.5 %)
22. Strange Horizons (0.55 %)
23. Prairie Schooner (0.55 %)
24. Puerto del Sol (0.56 %)
25. Short Story Award for New Writers (0.58 %)
Maybe you recognize a few of these from my previous lists, yeah? The top 25 and we’re still under 1% acceptance rate.
MY WHITE WHALES
This is my final list before the BIG LIST. It’s a list of the markets that have rejected my work the most. Obviously these are the people I’ve been going after, the publications that I most want to publish with, so maybe that will help you as well. Obviously, these are across various genres, so keep that in mind. Minimum inclusion on this list is FIVE rejections (the number next to the listing is how many stories of mine they have rejected). I was going to make a list of just “cool markets” but I think you can probably assume any listing you see on THIS list that wasn’t on any previous list—yeah, I think they’re cool and worthy of submission.
Bat City Review 8
Berkeley Fiction Review 5 (was short-listed)
Camera Obscura 5
Copper Nickel 7
Cream City Review 5 (currently short-listed)
Emerson Review 5
Glimmer Train 7
Going Down Swinging 5
Harpur Palate 5
Hayden’s Ferry Review 9
Indiana Review 6
Midwestern Gothic 5
Missouri Review 8
Ninth Letter 5
One Story 7
Shock Totem 10
Southeast Review 6
That’s quite a list, yeah? Painful stuff, but when I finally break through, it’ll be so fantastic.
THE BIG LIST
Well, here you go. I hope that everything leading up to this has helped. You don’t have to go to Duotrope.com, all of that information is out there, there are other sources, but I really love what they do, and find it easy to stay organized there. Try Ralan for speculative and New Pages for literary, if you must. This big list has publishers as well as journals, magazines and websites. It also notes where I have been accepted, and if they have closed. Most of those stories are still available, so I’ve left them on the list. Feel free to keep an eye on this list, as it is always evolving, being trimmed down, and beefed up, over at my blog.
Please feel free to post up any questions if I’ve missed something, or if you want more information on a particular publication. Enjoy! And start submitting! Make 2013 the year you break through.
22 Magazine, The
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