You shouldn’t have to pay for your work to be considered for publication, so beware publications that charge “reading fees” just to submit your work. The exception is if you’re entering a contest, which a number of journals sponsor (usually annually). While a contest will typically cost $10–20 to enter, the payout, should you win, is substantial—often $1,000 or more. Plus, you’ll have the distinction of winning, a credit to mention in future cover letters. Many contests also give all entrants a subscription to the journal, or at least a copy of the issue in which the winning entries appear. That way, you’ll get something for your money regardless of whether or not you win.
A number of small commercial presses, as well as a few university presses, also sponsor annual book contests for short-story collections. An entry fee (typically around $25) goes toward supporting the press, and the winning manuscript (and sometimes one or more finalists) gets published.
* This excerpt is from Writing Basics. Worth checking out if you’re looking to get your writing back on track.