The Long View: Genre Markets for Novelettes & Novellas

If you regularly submit short stories to genre markets, you’ve no doubt learned the longer your story the fewer publishers who will accept it. This post isn’t meant be a condemnation of longer stories, but it is beneficial to understand where many genre markets stand on novelettes and novellas.

I’m going to take a close look at the market for three popular genres—horror, fantasy, and sci-fi, i.e., the ones I know best—and see how many accept stories of the most popular lengths. All of my stats will be drawn from Duotrope, which is a pretty robust database of potential markets, but it is not a database of all markets. So my numbers are naturally skewed and will not include publishers that aren’t part of Duotrope’s database. Also, the data here is a snapshot, and counts only those markets that are currently accepting submissions. In other words, this is not a scientific study by any means; it’s a quick summation of the data I have easily at hand and should be viewed as such.

Okay, some definitions first.

In each of the three genres I named above, I’m going to see how many markets accept stories in the following four lengths: short story, flash fiction, novelette, and novella. Duotrope defines those lengths thusly:

  • Short Story: 1,000 to 7,500 words
  • Flash Fiction: Less than 1,000 words
  • Novelette: 7,500 to 15,000 words
  • Novella: 15,000 to 40,000 words

It’s important to note that while Duotrope’s definition of a short story is a piece up to 7,500 words, many publishers do not publish fiction at that length. In my experience, 3,000 to 5,000 words is more common for short stories, and of those publishers that do publish up to 7,500 words, some don’t do it very often and will often state that in the guidelines.

I’m also breaking the markets down into three payment tiers: token, semi-pro, and professional. (I’m keeping non-paying markets out of this simply to keep the numbers manageable.) Dutrope defines those payment theirs like this:

  • Token: under 1 cent per word (often a flat rate)
  • Semi-Pro: 1 cent to 5 cents per word (most of these markets tend to be on the low end of this scale)
  • Professional: 6 cents per word and up

Okay, let’s look at our first genre—horror.

Horror Token Semi-Pro Pro
Total Markets 98 42 9
Short Story 88 34 8
Flash Fiction 53 27 6
Novelette 31 7 4
Novella 9 3 2

As you can see, most of these markets accept short stories and a fair number of them also take flash fiction. (The ones that don’t take shorts often specialize in flash.) The numbers drop off dramatically the longer the story gets, hitting single digits when you get into novella length. In fact, if you want to submit a novella-length horror story to a professional market, it’s currently Clarkesworld Magazine or Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show or nothin’ (according to Duotrope). It should be noted that Clarkesworld cuts off novellas at 16,000 words and Intergalactic Medicine Show at 17,500 words. So if you’ve got a 20,000-word horror novella, there currently isn’t a pro market to send it to in Duotrope’s database.

Okay, now fantasy.

Fantasy Token Semi-Pro Pro
Total Markets 131 72 28
Short Story 112 57 22
Flash Fiction 71 44 17
Novelette 47 19 11
Novella 18 8 7

Fantasy is a bigger market than horror, but the numbers are similar. Lots of places that accept shorts and flash and far less that accept novelettes and novellas. You’ve got more options with longer works in this genre but not by much. Again, like with horror, most of the pro markets definitions of a novella falls well below 40,000 or even 30,000 words. Only one of the seven pro markets above accepts novellas up to 40,000 words; the rest cut off at 25,000 words and below (most are below 20,000).

And, lastly, science-fiction.

Sci-Fi Token Semi-Pro Pro
Total Markets 149 78 30
Short Story 131 64 25
Flash Fiction 71 43 17
Novelette 57 19 11
Novella 20 10 8

Again, similar ratios as the other two genres, but since sci-fi is the largest of the three, you do have a few more options for longer story lengths. Like with horror and fantasy, novella writers will need to keep their works on the low end of the spectrum. Only two markets here accept novellas up to 40,000 words, the rest cut off at 25,000 words and below.

That’s a whole bunch of numbers for you, but the conclusion is simple: there just aren’t many markets in these three genres that accept longer stories (I’d guess it’s similar with mystery and romance, but I could be wrong). It’s something to keep in mind when you’re writing. If you’re targeting semi-pro and pro publishers, then you may have a more difficult time selling a novelette or novella simply from lack of potential markets. Again, I’m not saying don’t write to these lengths–a story needs to be as long as it needs to be–just be aware it’s a tougher road.

It’s not all bad news. Some of the big book publishers are actually open to and even looking for submissions of novella-length manuscripts. Here’s a couple I found with just a quick internet search (there are likely more):

  • Tor is looking for fantasy novellas between 20,000 and 40,000 words that are not modeled on a European culture through January 12th, 2017. Check out the full guidelines here: novella submissions.
  • Hydra, a digital-only imprint of Penguin-Random House, is looking for horror, fantasy, and sci-fi works of 40,000 words and up. Technically, I think they’re looking for novel-length submissions, but 40,000 words is the upper limit of what most people consider a novella. They’re looking for queries first, and there’s a online form you can fill out right here: Hydra submission guidelines.

If you have additional info about potential markets for novelettes and novellas or if you have experience with a genre outside of fantasy, horror, and sci-fi, please tell me about it in the comments.

Rejection Letter Rundown: The Considered Rejection

Often you have to wait quite a while for a publisher to get back to you about a submission, which is just a reality of being a writer, but when you have good reason to hope your story will be accepted, the waiting can be pretty nail-biting and the possible rejection all bit more disappointing. The rejection letter du jour is the considered rejection, which is a whole process that begins with an encouraging note like this.

“XXX” has been accepted into our final round of consideration. We will be letting you know before the end of [the month] whether or not it is accepted.

What we have here is a further consideration letter, which is always a good thing. It says the publisher liked your story, and they’re, well, considering publishing it. I appreciate these largely because they often come from markets that can take a while to get back to you, so it’s nice to get some notification that a decision is in the works. Now, of course, getting a letter like this is no guarantee of publication, because it might eventually result in a letter like this:

Thanks so much for letting us consider your story “XXX.” While it made it to the final round of consideration, I’m afraid that we chose not to accept it. We had a lot of submissions and there were difficult decisions to be made. Best of luck placing it elsewhere.

Ouch. Bummer, right? My story was under consideration for about three months before they decided to pass on it. This is all part of the writing gig, and I have no doubt my story was up against some stiff competition. So what’s the takeaway from a rejection letter like this? Simple. I got close. The story got close. I like to think that’s evidence the story is pretty decent the way it is, and I should send it to another publisher right away, which is exactly what I did. If this publisher liked it enough to seriously consider it for publication, the next one might like it even more. We’ll just have to see.

Have you received a considered rejection? Tell me about it in the comments.

September 2016 Submission Statement

September was a solid month, and my progress with short story submissions was much less sloth-like than previous months. It’s a mixed bag this time, with rejections, acceptances, and some noteworthy publications.

September Report Card

  • Submissions Sent: 7
  • Rejections: 5*
  • Acceptances: 1
  • Other: 0
  • Publications: 2

*Three (3) of these rejections were for submissions sent in September.


Here we go. This is what Rejectomancy is all about! Five rejections this month; let’s have a look.

Rejection 1: 9/3/16

Thank you for your submission to XXX. 

We regret that we are unable to publish “XXX” We are grateful for the opportunity to consider it, and we wish you the best of luck in placing it elsewhere. 

A common form rejection from one of the bigger horror markets. Nothing much to see here, really, and I’ve received this exact rejection numerous times. This will be a running theme for September, by the way.

Rejection 2: 9/3/16

Thank you for your interest in XXX, unfortunately, your story does not fit our needs at this time.

As this is a brand new publication with no real backdrop of study, you should not take this rejection personally. Please submit again in the future, however, no sooner than 20 days from the date of this notice.

The 3rd was a multiple-rejection day, and this one is from a brand new market. It’s a pretty standard form rejection, but I like the note they tacked on at the end. I don’t put a lot of stock in this canned niceties you often see in rejection letters, but this is always good advice. Rejections are NOT personal.

There’s one other thing about this rejection that’s a bit different. They ask you not to resubmit for a period of 20 days. It’s not uncommon for publishers to do this, though I usually see it in their submission guidelines. I think it’s a good idea for a publisher to remind writers of this particular rule in a rejection, since it’s likely you haven’t looked at the publisher’s guidelines in quite some time, and the rejection will be fresh in your mind.

Rejection 3: 9/12/16

Thank you for the opportunity to read “XXX.” Unfortunately, your story isn’t quite what we’re looking for right now.

In the past, we’ve provided detailed feedback on our rejections, but I’m afraid that due to time considerations, we’re no longer able to offer that service. I appreciate your interest in XXX and hope that you’ll keep us in mind in the future.

Remember that theme I talked about in rejection number one? So, I finished a new story this month, and, as I usually do, I’m sending it to all the top-tier markets that accept horror. These are all exceedingly tough markets to crack, and I’ve received lots of form rejections, like this one, from all of them. Anyway, this is another standard form rejection. Moving on.

Rejection 4: 9/14/16

Many thanks for sending “XXX”, but I’m sorry to say that it isn’t right for XXX. I wish you luck placing it elsewhere, and hope that you’ll send me something new soon. 

Another standard form rejection from a top-tier horror market for the same story as the previous rejection. What’s great about these markets is they’re really fast, usually taking no more than a couple of days to send a rejection. So, I can usually hit three or four of them in the same week.

Rejection 5: 9/15/16

We have read your submission and will have to pass, as it unfortunately does not meet our needs at this time.

Remember when I said these top-tier markets are quick? This one is by far the quickest, and this rejection came within an hour and a half. That’s not even my record for this publisher. I once received a rejection in 46 minutes. I honestly don’t know how they do it, but I appreciate the lightning-fast response. Another standard form rejection, likely recognizable to anyone who regularly submits to the pro horror markets.


One acceptance this month, though it comes with a catch (see below).

Acceptance 1: 9/10/16

Normally, on the blog, I’ll share just about everything with you when it comes to ejections and acceptances, but this is one of those times where I can’t. The acceptance letter for this month contains some information I’m not at liberty to divulge, and there’s really no easy way to excise that info from the letter. I’ll just say that it’s an acceptance from a market that’s published me once before, and it’s a story I’m really excited about. I’ll post more info when I can.


My two publications this month are a little out of the ordinary in that they’re both audio publications.

Publication 1: 9/23/16

“Night Games” – Pseudopod

Man, I was excited for this one. I sold my vampire/baseball story “Night Games” to Pseudopod way back in December of 2015. As you can imagine, a market like Pseudopod needs a bit more time to prepare a story for publication, what with securing voice work, recording, editing, and so forth. In addition, the editors thought it would be fitting to publish the story at the end of the 2016 baseball season, and I wholeheartedly agree.

The narrator, Rish Outfield, did a fantastic job, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the way the story turned out. Normally, I wouldn’t harangue you to go out and read/listen to one of my stories, but in this case, I’m gonna. Why? Well, “Night Games” is my favorite of the stories I’ve written thus far, and I think it’s very indicative of my writing style (that’ll be good or bad depending on your point of view and tastes). And, seriously, the narration is just awesome. It’s worth the price of admission all by itself (the story is free to listen to, by the way).

Publication 2: 9/27/16

Flashpoint – Privateer Press/Audible

So the second publication is the audio version of my Iron Kingdoms novel Acts of War: Flashpoint. Again, the narration, this time by Noah Levine, is top-notch, and it was really cool to hear all the characters in the book come to life. I was really happy with the way this turned out, and I’m grateful to Noah and Audible for doing such a bang-up job.

Anyway, if you’d like to listen to Flashpoint, click the pretty picture below.


And that was my September. How was yours?

Author Self-Promotion: 4 First Steps

In today’s literary market, it pays to self-promote, and there are plenty of options available to authors for that purpose. So, if you’re just getting started with this whole publishing thing, how should you begin promoting yourself? I’m not a marketing expert, but I can point you at some basic and fairly easy-to-do things that have worked for me and can help expand your presence on the ol’ interwebs. Like the title of the post says, these are very basic first steps, not any kind of recipe for instant promotional success (if you have one of those, please post it in the comments :-)).

One more thing. Before you get started self-promoting, I suggest you obtain the following two items:

  • A good author bio. There are a lot of good reasons to have an author bio ready to go, but you’ll need one for nearly all of the online marketing platforms I’m going to suggest below. Writing a bio is a very individual thing, and you’ll need to decide what’s important enough to include. If you’d like to see how I write MY bios, check out this post.
  • Author photo. You might consider this one optional. Some folks don’t like having their picture taken, and there are some very real privacy and security risks that go along with letting the world know what you look like. Personally, I like the author photo, and I generally plaster my smiling mug all over the damn place. Like the bio, what makes a good author photo is up to the individual author. If you’d like to see what I think makes a good author photo, check out this post.

Okay, if you’ve got your bio and your author photo, here are four of the easier ways to get started down the self-promotional rabbit hole:

  1. Social media. I know, this sounds like a total no-brainer, but I know more than a few authors who don’t have any social media presence. Hey, I get it; Facebook and Twitter are full of inane bullshit, but, unfortunately, the vast majority of potential readers have Facebook and Twitter accounts (or start growing the ones you do have), and if there’s an easier way to reach a fuck-ton of people quickly these days, I don’t know what it is. So, at a minimum, I suggest you get a Facebook and Twitter account. If you’re the kind of author who tends to have a lot of illustrations in his or her books, then image-based platforms like Instagram and Tumblr could be good options too. The trick with social media is to stay active, posting often and with meaningful content. That said, the best way to do that is the subject of many, many articles, websites, and books, and is well beyond the scope of my humble little blog. All you need do, though, is type something like “grow my Facebook audience” into Google, and you’ll find hundreds if not thousands of resources on the subject.
  2. Set up a Goodreads author page. Goodreads is one of the premier book review sites, with something like 25 million members, so I definitely think having a presence out there is good idea. Obviously, you need to have published or self-published a book or have had a short story appear in a collection that was published (people need to have something they can actually read and review). Setting up an author page is super easy to do (and free), and once it’s done you get access to cool marketing tools like Goodreads Giveaways. You can also link your blog and other social media to the page. Basically, if someone has read one of your books and likes it, they can go to your Goodreads author page and see what else you’ve written, learn about you and your blog, and so and so on. Here’s my Goodreads page if you’re interested.
  3. Set up an Amazon author page. Maybe you’ve heard of Amazon; they sell a lot of books. If you’ve published or self-published books or short stories in collections that are sold through Amazon, I think an Amazon author page is a must. This is another freebie and setting up the page is really easy (go here for that). Like Goodreads, you can link your blog and other social media to your author page. Amazon also offers a lot of promotional tools for authors, but they’re usually of the pay-to-play variety, and you’ll have to decide if they’re worth it. You set up an Amazon author page for the same reason you set up a Goodreads author page: it’s a place for readers to go to learn more about your work, and with Amazon, buying that next book is just a click away for interested readers. Here’s my Amazon author page if you’d like to take a look.
  4. Start a blog. This is the most involved of my suggestions because running a blog requires a lot of time and effort, but it’s great to have a platform for your ideas and a place to promote your work. I wouldn’t say this is an absolute must, but it has been THE most successful promotional tool in my little repertoire. My suggestion is to pick some kind of hook or theme beyond, hey, here’s another author’s blog. Make sure that theme is something you actually want to talk about (and you can talk about a lot) and that ties into your work in some way. Starting a blog doesn’t have to cost you anything either, and WordPress and Blogger have perfectly serviceable free packages. That said, spending a few bucks to get a domain name and access to a few other useful features isn’t a terrible idea. Also, remember to point folks back at your blog in your author bio (and everywhere else it’s appropriate).

This really is just the very beginning/scratching the surface of promoting yourself as an author. You’ll need to invest time and effort into keeping these various platforms updated and current (for example, you often have to tell Amazon to add your latest book to your author page). As I mentioned earlier, there are TONS of books and websites devoted to helping authors promote their work though all of the platforms I mentioned above (and a bunch more). As usual, a little research goes a long way.

Got any tips to help new authors start promoting their work? I’d love to hear them in the comments.

Listen to “Night Games” on Pseudopod

My vampire/baseball story “Night Games” was published on Pseudopod today. If you’re unfamiliar with Pseudopod, they’re a top-notch horror podcast that features short stories in audio format. Their readers are fantastic, and my reader, Rish Outfield, did a hell of a job bringing my story to life. Anyway, click the link below to listen to “Night Games” and let me “stake” you out to the ballgame. (Hah! I’m a bad person.)

Click Here >>>>> “Night Games”

Picture Me: Some Thoughts/Advice on Author Photos

Along with a bio, a lot of publishers big and small will ask you for an author photo to display alongside your story, on the back cover of your book, and so on and so forth. I know lots of folks hate having their picture taken, and if that’s you, I understand, but if you DO want to have an author photo, here are some things you might consider. Note, I am not a professional photographer, so take any technical advice I offer with a grain of salt. These are things that have worked for me; you may want to go in a completely different direction, and that’s perfectly cool and acceptable.

  1. You should look professional. I’m aware that people’s ideas of what “professional” means can vary widely, so I’ll approach this from my own perceptions of the word. For me it means getting myself into presentable shape: freshly shaven (face and head), putting on a nice shirt of some kind that will photograph well (I prefer stretchy T-shirt type things in dark colors), and doing some light maintenance on the facial area. For you, professional may be completely different, and that’s cool; you just want to make sure the image you’re putting forth is the one you actually want (a lot) of people to see.
  2. The photo should look professional. Usually, this means hiring a professional photographer. I lucked out and married a woman whose hobby has been photography for the last twenty years. Your author photo should probably not be a selfie.
  3. Style. So I prefer a close-up type photo, what is usually referred to as a head shot. I find that it scales up or down a lot easier when publishers have different display requirements. Even with my meager Photoshop skills, I can take the original and resize it for whatever the publisher needs. As for background, I like simple industrial looks: brick, steel, stone. This is all stuff that’s available outside my front door in downtown Seattle. That said, the black or white “studio” background is perfectly acceptable.
  4. Format. I’m a little out of my depth here, but generally a publisher will ask for a hi-res jpeg or TIF file, so it’s a good idea to keep hi-res versions of both handy.
  5. Color or black and white. This is totally a personal preference, but I like black and white. To me it just looks more authorly. That said, I have a color version of my author photo if a publisher required one.
  6. Smile. Again, this is just personal preference, but I think looking like a friendly, approachable person is a lot better than looking like a brooding angry writer guy. Your mileage may vary, of course. My goal with my author photo is for people to see it and think, “Hey, I’d have a beer with that guy” rather than “I wonder if that guy will punch me if I ask him about his books.”

So, with all that in mind, here’s my current author photo, for better or worse:


If I could change a few things, it would be the hole in the brick wall below my left ear and maybe a bit more contrast between myself and the background, but those are not deal-breakers for me, and I’m pretty happy with this photo. This one is over a year old, and I’m considering changing it out in the next few months. I think freshening your author photo every couple of years isn’t a terrible idea; you want people to recognize what you look like now not five years ago.

Got any tips for author photos (like, what might be wrong with mine)? If so, I’d love to hear about them (or share your own photo).

7 Top-Tier Horror Markets: My New Story Gauntlet

Once I’ve finished a new story and it’s ready for submission, I have a short list of top-tier spec-fic markets that it goes to first. I have dubbed this list “The Gauntlet,” and they are some of the toughest but most prestigious publications I know of that accept horror. They also work very fast, and I often get a response to my submission within a few days or even a few hours.

Here’s my list, presented in no particular order:

My current record with these publications is one original acceptance (DarkFuse Magazine), one reprint acceptance (Pseudopod), one further consideration letter (Apex Magazine), and a whole bunch of rejections (every last one of them). The order in which I submit a story (or if I submit a story at all) is due in large part to when these markets are open to submissions, the length of the story, and which market is best suited for the piece. Like I said, these are some of the toughest publications to crack in the spec-fic market, and most of them have acceptance rates well under one percent according to Duotrope. And, let’s face it, that acceptance rate is probably a lot smaller because rejections are more likely to go unreported than acceptances.

One quick note about response times. I mentioned earlier that these publications work fast, and they do for an initial response. That’s usually a rejection, but in my experience, these markets will send you a note if they’re considering your story for publication. After that, the wait can be much longer, months even, before you hear from them again. That said, I’m thrilled to just be considered by these publications, so that second wait, when it happens, isn’t too bad. Some of these markets do accept sim-subs, by the way.

So, why submit to these markets first? Here are four good reasons.

1) Reach. From what I’ve been able to gather through a bit of internet research, most of these markets have readerships in the thousands or even tens of thousands. So if you can manage to get a story accepted by one of them, that story is going to be read by a lot of people interested in the type of fiction you write. That’s the kind of thing that helps you build a brand and can maybe affect the sales of something like that novel you’re thinking about self-publishing some day

2) Group memberships. Stories accepted by these markets often count toward membership in professional writing organizations like the HWA (Horror Writers Association) and the SFWA (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America). If you want to be a member in one of these groups and get access to the benefits that entails, you have to publish at qualifying markets. All the markets in my list qualify for one or the other or both.

3) Awards. If you’re a spec-fic writer who dreams of winning awards like the Hugo Award or the Bram Stoker Award, then publishing at one or more of these markets (and others like them) is a good step toward the fame and glory you seek. Stories nominated for both awards and probably a few others are often drawn from the pages of some of the publications on my list.

4) Pro rates. Simply put, these markets pay the most. Nearly all of them pay the pro rate of .06/word, and some pay a lot more. For me, money is at most a tertiary consideration, but getting a chunk of cash for a story is still awfully damn nice.

Some of you might be wondering why I haven’t included one or more [super huge famous spec-fic] markets on my list, and the reasons are pretty straightforward. Factors that disqualify a market from my gauntlet include but are not limited to:

  • Longer wait. I don’t usually submit to markets that take longer than 30 days to respond in my first go-around unless the story is just a perfect fit. I’ll invariably start hitting these markets once the story has run the gauntlet, so to speak.
  • Bad fit. I write horror in a fairly specific style, and there are magazines that just don’t publish the kind of horror I write. For example, I rarely write anything that could be considered weird fiction, a popular fantasy/horror subgenre.
  • Content restrictions. A few top-tier publications have a strict PG-13 content restrictions, and while there’s nothing wrong with that, I just have trouble writing without an R-rating. I have a strict rule that the word “fuck” must appear at least twice in every one of my stories (a personal failing, I know).
  • Ignorance. Yep, finally, there are probably lots of great markets I just don’t know much or anything about. Please enlighten me in the comments if you know of one that should be on my list.

So, there’s my gauntlet run (so far) and the reasons new stories typically go to these markets first. Got a gauntlet run of your own? Maybe for another genre? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.