Get Inside the Top 30 Short Story Markets

In the past, short stories frequently got short shrift in the publishing world. Many writers once thought that success meant a blockbuster novel contract or publication in The New Yorker. But times have changed.

These days, more and more agents and editors are perusing a variety of journals and magazines for short fiction to find promising writers.

And, there’s been a return to the traditional story arc. Editors report they’re looking for short fiction with clear beginnings, middles and ends, vs. the earlier movement in short-short fiction to a more compressed, intense style.

With guidance from Editor Anne Bowling of Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market, WD has rounded up the top 30 short story markets for writers. Do you have what it takes to grace the pages of these publications with your writing? Read what the editors of this year’s top 30 short story markets have to say.

Recommended Reading
  • You Are Not a Stranger Here by Adam Haslett (Doubleday, $21.95)
  • Speaking With the Angel edited by Nick Hornby (Riverhead Books, $13.95)
  • The Half-Mammals of Dixie by George Singleton (Algonquin Books, $22.95)
  • The Best American Short Stories 2002 edited by Sue Miller, co-edited by Katrina Kenison (Mariner, $13)
  • New Stories from the South: The Year’s Best, 2002 edited by Shannon Ravenel, preface by Larry Brown (Algonquin, $14.95)
  • The Pushcart Prize XXVI: Best of the Small Presses 2002 edited by Bill Henderson (Pushcart Press, $18)
  • The O. Henry Awards: Prize Stories 2002 edited by Larry Dark (Anchor Books, $14)
  • Officer Friendly and Other Stories by Lewis Robinson (HarperCollins, $23.95)…..
  • Not surprisingly, almost every editor makes some mention of checking the guidelines and reading past issues before submitting any work. Jill Adams, editor of The Barcelona Review, says, “First of all, read the submission guidelines carefully, which is, unfortunately, so rarely done.” This may seem like common sense, but many writers ignore this advice, submit on their own terms, and end up with a pile of rejections—or worse, no response at all.

    Other publications offer even more specific advice. “The most important advice any editor can offer is to read the previously published work prior to submission,” says Sean Meriwether, editor of Outsider Ink.” Each venue has its own particular obsessions. By reading work the editor has already selected you can develop an idea of what that market is looking for.”

    Don’t be put off if you’re a beginner. “We especially seek out and enjoy publishing first-time writers and artists. Don’t let a lack of publishing credits prevent you from submitting!” Mindprints Editor Paul Fahey says.

    Once you’ve brushed up on the basics, it’s time to enhance the quality of your work. Do your characters shine? Are their conflicts plausible? Does your plot move at a steady pace without being too wordy?

    “We look for a strong sense of voice, flashes of humor, concrete and condensed description in fiction that unites the heart and mind by avoiding the sentimental,” says Vivian Shipley, editor of Connecticut Review.

    Humor, in fact, seems to be a prevalent theme throughout many of these markets. Fahey says he looks for “a short but complete story with a change in character, great imagery and an unusual voice or POV. We are literally dying for some humorous pieces. We love it when we read a short or memoir or poem that makes us laugh.”

    Also, many editors are inclined to accept shorter works. “Short shorts are popular—stories under 1,000 words, and flash fiction, which generally is a story under 500 words,” editors of Prose Ax say. “Though it might seem easier to write one of these stories in comparison to writing a regular-length story, I think they are actually more difficult to write, because you don’t have a lot of space to get your story across.”

    Fahey says, “We love reading complete stories of 55 and 100 words. For us, the shorter, the better. That way we can publish a variety of styles and voices.”

    Once you’re familiar with a publication’s guidelines and style preferences, it’s time to send your creation out into the publishing world. Always read and reread your manuscript to ensure that it’s devoid of grammar, punctuation and spelling errors, and make sure the story idea is appropriate for the publication to which you’re submitting.

    Is all of this planning worth it? Definitely! “A writer’s career can be furthered by the broad national exposure we provide to an audience [who] reads quality fiction. After every issue, I have several agents contact me about representing authors we publish,” Shipley says.

    So, get rid of those creative inhibitions and submit, submit, submit. You never know who could be waiting on the other side of that door!

    About the Listings
    Every year Writer’s Digest rounds up the top short fiction markets for writers. In keeping with last year’s ranking style, we’ve whittled down hundreds of fiction publications to a select 30, which we then classified into six categories. Based on information from the 2003 edition of Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market, WritersMarket.com and individual magazine’s guidelines, we are thrilled to showcase the top 30 short story markets for 2003!

    We weighed criteria such as circulation, payment, rights, submission response time, and the number of manuscripts a magazine receives per year vs. the number of manuscripts it’s able to publish. Also, each publication had to be open to submissions at the time this issue hit newsstands&#151unless specific reading times were indicated.

    In our Best Bets for Beginners category, we’ve found five high-caliber publications that encourage new writers to submit. Under Internet Envy, we’ve listed the top five online publications. Genre Gems tips its hat to notable genre markets. Fame Without Fortune showcases top-notch nonpaying magazines that won’t add weight to your wallet but may get your writing noticed. You’re in the Money features paying markets that remain attainable for skilled writers. And finally, we’ve replaced last year’s long-shot category&#151which included distinguished publications such as The Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s and The New Yorker, markets that reserve their acceptances for the most accomplished writers&#151with Around the World, the most writer- friendly, non-U.S. publications.

    See Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market or visitWritersMarket.com for more info on these (NSSWM page #’s listed) and many more publications.

    Best Bets for Beginners

    Beginnings Publishing: A Magazine for Novice Writers (scbeginnings.com), Jenine Boisits, fiction editor, P.O. Box 92, Shirley NY 11967-1525. Tel: (631)205-5542. E-mail: Jenineb@optonline.net. NSSWM: 149. Semiannual magazine; does not read in January or April. Pays one contributor copy for first rights.

    Mindprints: A Literary Journal (www.hancock.cc.ca.us/studentservices/learning_assistance/mindprints), Paul Fahey, editor, Learning Assistance Program, Allan Hancock College, 800 S. College Dr., Santa Maria CA 93454-6399. Tel: (805)992-6966, ext. 3274. E-mail: pafahey@hancock.cc.ca.us. E-submissions accepted only from non-U.S. residents. U.S. residents query by mail. NSSWM: 203. Annual magazine; reads September through May. Pays one contributor copy for one-time rights. Note: “Many famous writers have started their careers by publishing work in small literary magazines,” Fahey says. “In our area of California, many well-known authors such as Catherine Ryan Hyde, author of Pay It Forward, have graciously contributed to our magazine. What a high for a first-time writer to be published alongside such pros!”

    Outsider Ink (www.outsiderink.com), Sean Meriwether, editor, Outsider Media, 201 W. 11th St., New York NY 10014. Tel: (212)691-4345. E-mail: editor@outsidermedia.com. Submit via e-mail. NSSWM: 319. Quarterly e-zine. No payment; acquires e-rights. Note: “Publishing short fiction is incredibly important to the development of a new writer,” Meriwether says. “You can test the markets, develop your own voice, gain experience in the submission process, and build name recognition.”

    Prose Ax: doses of prose, poetry, visual and audio art (www.proseax.com), J. Calma Salazar, editor, P.O. Box 22643, Honolulu HI 96823-2643. E-mail: prose_ax@att.net. Submit via e-mail. NSSWM: 298. Quarterly zine. Pays two contributor copies for one-time and e-rights.

    The Unknown Writer (www.munno.net/unknownwrite), Rick Maffei, fiction editor, P.O. Box 698, Ramsey NJ 07446. E-mail: unknown_writer_2000@yahoo.com. NSSWM: 256. Quarterly magazine. Pays two contributor copies for first rights.

    Internet Envy

    Alternate Realities Webzine (www.alternaterealitieszine.com), Joan M. McCarty, editor, 26 N.E. 57th Ave., Portland OR 97218. Tel: (503)249-7125. E-mail: fanwrite@aol.com. NSSWM: 302. Bimonthly e-zine. Pays $5-15 for e-rights.

    Big Country Peacock Chronicle (www.peacockchronicle.com), Audrey Yoeckel, owner/publisher, RR1 Box 89K-112, Aspermont TX 79502. Tel: (806)254-2322. E-mail: ayoeckel@yahoo.com. NSSWM: 304. Monthly e-zine. No payment; acquires e-rights. Note: “If you are unsure of your writing skills and have a good story, we can work with you,” Yoeckel says. “We have help and resources for marketing and skills development available for writers, poets, journalists and storytellers.”

    The Blue Moon Review (www.thebluemoon.com), Theron Montgomery, fiction editor, 14313 Winter Ridge Lane, Midlothian VA 23112. E-mail: fiction@thebluemoon.com. Submit via e-mail only. NSSWM: 305. Quarterly e-zine. No payment; acquires first North American serial and one-time anthology rights.

    The Cafe Irreal: International Imagination (www.cafeirreal.com), Alice Whittenburg and G.S. Evans, editors. E-mail: editors@cafeirreal.com. Submit via e-mail only. NSSWM: 306. Semiannual e-zine. Pays 1¢/word, $2 min., for first and one-time rights. Note: “Because the Internet is so readily accessible in so many parts of the world, an Internet publication such as The Cafe Irreal can help a writer reach a much wider audience than would have been possible in such a specialty publication 10 or more years ago,” Evans and Wittenburg say.

    PIF (www.pifmagazine.com), Rachel Sage, editor, 1426 Harvard Ave., #451, Seattle WA 98122-3813. Tel: (360)493-0596. E-mail: editor@pifmagazine.com. Submit via e-mail only. NSSWM: 321. Monthly e-zine. Pays $20/printed page for first North American serial rights. Note: You must be a registered member to submit. Membership is free.

    Genre Gems

    Analog: Science Fiction and Fact (www.analogsf.com), Stanley Schmidt, editor, Dell Magazines, 475 Park Ave. S., New York NY 10016. Tel: (212)686-7188. E-mail: analog@dellmagazines.com. NSSWM: 331. Magazine published 11 times/year. Pays 5-8¢/word and two contributor copies for first North American serial and nonexclusive foreign serial rights.

    Asimov’s Science Fiction (www.asimovs.com), Gardner Dozois, editor, 475 Park Ave. S., Floor 11, New York NY 10016-6901. Tel: (212)686-7188. E-mail: asimovs@dellmagazines.com. NSSWM: 332. Magazine published 11 times/year. Pays 5-8¢/word for first world English serial and specified foreign rights, as explained in contract.

    Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (www.sfsite.com/fsf), Gordon Van Gelder, editor, P.O. Box 3447, Hoboken NJ 07030. Tel: (201)876-2551. E-mail: sandsf@aol.com. NSSWM: 347. Monthly magazine. Pays 5-8¢/word for first North American and foreign serial rights, and an option on anthology if requested.

    Millennium Science Fiction & Fantasy (www.jopoppub.com), Diana R. Moreland, fiction editor, P.O. Box 8118, Roswell NM 88202-8118. E-mail: jopoppub@jopoppub.com. Submit online or via e-mail only. NSSWM: 317. Monthly e-zine; reads January through October. Pays $5-20 for one-time rights. Note: Be sure to type “Story Submission” in the subject line.

    Scifi.com (www.scifi.com/scifiction), Ellen Datlow, editor, PMB 391, 511 Avenue of the Americas, New York NY 10011-8436. Tel: (212)989-3742. E-mail: datlow@www.scifi.com. Submit via standard mail only. NSSWM: 324. Weekly e-zine. Pays 20¢/word up to $3,500 for first (with a six-month exclusivity clause), anthology and e-rights. Note: “Publishing short fiction (if you’re good at it) is a way to get your name out quickly and with less hassle than writing and publishing a novel,” Datlow says. “This is only true for writers who have a talent for short fiction—if it takes you as long to write a short story as it does to write a novel, this won’t help.”

    Fame Without Fortune

    Connecticut Review (www.ctstateu.edu/univrel/ctreview/index.htm), Dr. Vivian Shipley, editor, Connecticut State University System, SCSU 501 Crescent St., New Haven CT 06515. Tel: (203)392-6737. E-mail: ctreview@southernct.edu. Submit via standard mail only. NSSWM: 164. Semiannual magazine; reads September through May. Pays two contributor copies for first rights. Note: “I forward the agents’ inquiries to the writers. Several of our stories have been reprinted by other magazines, and Weston Magazine is doing a feature article on a fiction writer as a result of a story published in Spring 2002.”

    The Literary Review: An International Journal of Contemporary Writing (www.webdelsol.com/tlr), Walter Cummins, editor in chief, Fairleigh Dickinson University, 285 Madison Ave., Madison NJ 07940. Tel: (973)443-8564. E-mail: tlr@fdu.edu. Submit via standard mail. NSSWM: 197. Quarterly magazine; reads September through May. Pays two contributor copies for first rights. Note: “We feel that publishing in fiction magazines helps writers to get their work out into the mainstream and add to their publishing credits,” editors say.

    Snake Nation Review (www.snakenationpress.org), Jean Arambula, editor, 110 W. Force St., Valdosta GA 31601. Tel: (912)244-0752. E-mail: jeana@snakenationpress.org. NSSWM: 240. Quarterly magazine. Pays two contributor copies for one-time rights.

    StoryQuarterly (www.storyquarterly.com), fiction editors, 431 Sheridan Rd., Kenilworth IL 60043-1220. Tel: (847)256-6998. E-mail: storyquarterly@yahoo.com. Submit online only. NSSWM: 246. Annual magazine. Pays 10 contributor copies and a lifetime subscription ($200 value) for first North American serial rights. Note: You must be a registered member to submit. Membership is free.

    Transition: An International Review, Michael Vasquez, executive editor, Duke University Press, 69 Dunster St., Cambridge MA 02138. Tel: (617)496-2845. E-mail: transition@fas.harvard.edu. NSSWM: 255. Quarterly magazine. Pays three contributor copies; rights negotiable.

    You’re in the Money

    The Georgia Review (www.uga.edu/~garev), T.R. Hummer, editor, The University of Georgia, Athens GA 30602-3481. Tel: (706)542-3481. E-mail: garev@arches.uga.edu. NSSWM: 175. Quarterly journal; reads Aug. 16 through May 14. Pays $40/printed page, one contributor copy and a one-year subscription for first North American serial rights.

    Glimmer Train Stories (www.glimmertrain.com), Susan Burmeister-Brown and Linda Swanson-Davies, editors, Glimmer Train Press, 710 S.W. Madison St., Suite 504, Portland OR 97205. Tel: (503)221-0836. E-mail: info@glimmertrain.com. Submit online. NSSWM: 176. Quarterly magazine; reads in January, April, July, October. Pays $500 and 10 contributor copies for first rights.

    Ploughshares (www.pshares.org), fiction editor, Emerson College, 120 Boylston St., Boston MA 02116. Tel: (617)824-8753. E-mail: pshares@emerson.edu. NSSWM: 227. Triquarterly magazine; reads mss postmarked between Aug. 1 and March 31. Pays $25/page ($50 min., $250 max.), contributor copies and one-year subscription for first North American serial rights.

    The Southern Review (www.lsu.edu/thesouthernreview), John Easterly, associate editor, Louisiana State University, 43 Allen Hall, Baton Rouge LA 70803-5005. Tel: (225)578-5108. E-mail: jeaster@lsu.edu. NSSWM: 243. Quarterly magazine; reads September through May. Pays $12/printed page and two contributor copies for first North American serial rights.

    Tin House (www.tinhouse.com), Rob Spillman and Elissa Schappell, fiction editors, P.O. Box 10500, Portland OR 97296-0500. Tel: (503)274-4393. E-mail: tinhouse@aol.com. NSSWM: 254. Quarterly magazine. Pays $100-800 for first North American serial and anthology rights.

    Around the World

    The Barcelona Review (www.barcelonareview.com), Jill Adams, editor, Correu Vell 12-2, 08002 Barcelona, Spain. Tel: (00)34 93 319 15 96. E-mail: editor@barcelonareview.com. Submit via e-mail only. NSSWM: 304. Bimonthly e-zine. Sometimes pays in professional Spanish translation of story for e-rights. Note: “We always help with editing if a piece is accepted, but the majority of submissions we receive are just plain sloppy: misspellings, redundancies, awkward sentence structures,” Adams says.

    Event (event.douglas.bc.ca), Christine Dewar, fiction editor, Douglas College, Box 2503, New Westminster, British Columbia V3L 5B2 Canada. E-mail: event@douglas.bc.ca. NSSWM: 169. Triannual magazine. Pays $22/page and two contributor copies for first North American serial rights.

    Grain Magazine (www.grainmagazine.ca), Marlis Wesseler, fiction editor, Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild, P.O. Box 67, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan S7K 3K1, Canada. Tel: (306)244-2828. E-mail: grainmag@sasktel.net. NSSWM: 177. Quarterly magazine. Pays $40/page up to $175 and two contributor copies for first Canadian serial rights.

    Prism International (prism.arts.ubc.ca), Billeh Nickerson, editor, Buch E462-1866 Main Mall, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia V6T 1Z1, Canada. Tel: (604)822-2514. E-mail: prism@interchange.ubc.ca. NSSWM: 230. Quarterly magazine; does not read in August. Pays $20 (Canadian)/printed page and one-year subscription for first North American serial rights.

    Storie, all write (www.storie.it), Gianluca Bassi, editor, Leconte, Via Suor Celestina Donati 13/E, Rome, Italy 00167. Tel: (39)06 614 8777. E-mail: storie@tiscali.it. NSSWM: 245. Bimonthly magazine. Pays $30-600 and two contributor copies for first English and Italian rights.

    This article appeared in the June 2003 issue of Writer’s Digest.

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