10 Top-Tier Markets: My New & Improved New Story Gauntlet

Back in 2016 I put together a list of markets I submit to first with new short stories (not flash; that’s a different list), dubbing it my new story gauntlet. I published that list in a post titled 7 Top-Tier Horror Markets: My New Story Gauntlet. As you might guess a lot can change in four years, and the list of markets I send stories to first looks a little different these days.

For reference, here’s my list from 2016, presented in no particular order:

Now the savvy submitters among you will certainly notice that, sadly, Apex and Darkfuse are no more. I’ve also dropped Nightmare Magazine simply because they aren’t open for submissions that often. When they are, I definitely give them priority.

Okay, so that’s three of seven markets above dropped from my original list, so who do I submit to first now? Take a look.

You’ve likely noticed a few things with my new list. One, there are more markets on it (ten now), and two, the markets are more diverse. So why is that? Well, the main reason is I’ve moved away from writing primarily horror, and I’m writing more sci-fi, urban fantasy, and stuff that mashes those two genres with crime and mystery. I’ve added markets that publish more sci-fi and fantasy and markets like Pulp Literature, On Spec, and the various Flame Tree anthologies who accept a wide range of speculative fiction.

Now the big question. How have I fared with the markets on my new list? Not bad, actually. I have four acceptances and six short-lists. I also have a ton of rejections, of course, but a fair amount of them are personal or higher-tier. Obviously, there are some very tough markets on this list, but I want to aim high with my work, and hopefully, one day, I’ll crack one or more of the heavy hitters on my list.

So why submit to these markets first? Let me break it down. The first four reasons are lifted from my first post in 2016, but I’ve added a few.

1) Reach and prestige. All of these markets are well read and/or have considerable clout in the speculative fiction world. They’re also the kind markets that look good in a bio or a list of publications. I’m not saying that publication at Pseudopod or F&SF guarantees an editor will buy your story, but it is something an editor might notice, and it says your work is good enough to make the cut at some tough publications.

2) Group memberships. Most of the markets above are qualifying markets for membership in various professional author organizations. I personally think joining those can be a good thing, and since I posted the original list in 2016, I’ve joined the SFWA as an active member. Recent sales I’ve made to some of the markets in the list above now qualify me for membership in the HWA (I’m looking into that). So if a membership in these organizations is something you want, then these (and a number of others) are good markets to target.

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 some of these markets (and others like them) is a good step toward that goal. Stories nominated for both awards and a few others are often drawn from the pages of some of the publications on my list.

4) Pro rates. Nearly all of the markets above pay a pro rate of .08/word, and some pay more. The money is less important to me, but it is often indicative of a market that meets the first three criteria. Markets that can afford to pay pro rates are generally well established and well respected, and publishing with them can be good for your career and resume. 

The four reasons above are really about how a publication at one of these markets can help your career. The three that follow are more pragmatic and deal with the endless grind of the submissions process and how these markets make that process a little more bearable. 

5) Quick Response. Most of the markets above respond quickly to submissions, and those that don’t have other mitigating factors I’ll discuss in a second. Eight of the ten markets I listed will get back to you within 30 days and some of them will get back to you a lot sooner. That turn time is for a rejection. Acceptances take longer, but they’ll generally let you know via a further consideration letter if your story is moving onto the next stage of review.

6) Simultaneous Submissions. I’ve started sending more sim-subs of late, and six of the markets above allow them. Those that don’t allow simsubs respond so quickly that no sim-subs is hardly an issue.

7) Reprints. I’m a big fan of the reprint, and most of the markets on my list are okay with them. Those that don’t accept them, either take sim-subs or respond quickly, and, hey, two out of three ain’t bad.

Now, obviously, I submit to more top-tier markets than these ten, and if I haven’t included one or more [super huge famous spec-fic] markets in my list it’s for one of the three pretty straightforward reasons .

  • Bad fit. Over the last four years my style has evolved, and I’d say I have a pretty specific voice at this point. That voice and style just aren’t a good fit for some markets, so I don’t waste their time or mine submitting to them. That’s not to say that what they publish is wrong or bad or anything, far from it. I admire the hell out of many markets I don’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell at ever appearing in. 🙂
  • Long wait. A market that does not allow sim-subs and takes more than 90 days to respond (for a rejection) will generally not be a priority market for a new story. The exception is if I have a piece that is seemingly a perfect fit for the market’s theme, style, etc.
  • Narrow submission windows. There are some markets, like Diabolical Plots and the aforementioned Nightmare, that open for submissions infrequently or even just once a year. These are great markets, and when they’re open, they move right to the top of my list.

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

The Long View II: Genre Markets for Novelettes & Novellas

A couple of years ago I wrote a post called The Long View: Genre Markets for Novelettes & Novellas, and it turned out to be one of my more popular posts. Guess there are a lot of folks writing at that length. Anyway, in that post, I took a broad look at the number of genre markets that accept novelettes and novellas using Duotrope as my primary source. I think it’s time for an update on this subject, especially since my last post did not include The Submission Grinder and my methods were, uh, less than perfect. I’ve also included two more genres in this analysis: mystery and romance.

It’s important to note that my numbers are not complete. They’re a snapshot in time of which markets are currently accepting novelettes and novellas and are listed on Duotrope and The Submission Grinder. Though I’m likely hitting most of the markets that accept stories of these lengths, there are certainly others not listed on either market database or are currently closed to submissions.

We’re only going to look at novelettes and novellas, which Duotrope and the Submission Grinder define as such:

  • Novelette: 7,500 to 15,000 words
  • Novella: 15,000 to 40,000 words

As for pay scale, I’m looking at three categories, defined as:

  • Token: under 1 cent per word
  • Semi-Pro: 1 cent to 4 cents per word
  • Pro: 5 cents per word and up

Lastly, (D) stands for Duotrope and (SG) stands for The Submission Grinder in the tables below. Also, note the two databases have a lot of overlap, and many publishers are listed on both. This is reflected in the numbers below.

Okay, lets look at those genres.


Since I’m a horror writer, primarily, let’s look at the horror market first:

Horror Token (D) Token (SG) Semi-Pro (D) Semi-Pro (SG) Pro (D) Pro (SG)
Novelette 12 21 4 4 2 3
Novella 4 11 0 1 2 2

There are a fair amount of token horror markets that will accept longer works, and a lot of these can be found on The Submission Grinder. Pickings get thin once you hit semi-pro and pro, however, and you’re really restricted to just a few markets for novelettes and novellas. The other thing to note here is that many of these publishers are not pure horror markets. For example, Clarkesworld and Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show accept a wide array of speculative fiction that includes horror.


Let’s move on to fantasy, where thing open up a little.

Fantasy Token (D) Token (SG) Semi-Pro (D) Semi-Pro (SG) Pro (D) Pro (SG)
Novelette 20 33 5 10 9 10
Novella 11 18 2 3 7 6

You have a pretty wide range of markets to choose from for long-form fantasy, even pro markets. There’s a fair bit of overlap between novellas and novelettes in that often the same market will publish both lengths. The pro markets here are some of the biggest names in speculative fiction, including Asimov’s Science Fiction, Clarkesworldand Fantasy & Science FictionThough a number of these pro markets are listed as publishing novellas, they cap word counts at 25,000 words or less.

Science Fiction

Now science fiction, likely the best genre for long-form fiction in terms of available pro markets.

Sci-Fi Token (D) Token (SG) Semi-Pro (D) Semi-Pro (SG) Pro (D) Pro (SG)
Novelette 19 23 6 11 11 11
Novella 7 13 4 3 9 8

There are more semi-pro and pro markets for science fiction novellas and novelettes than any other genre. That said, many of these markets are also present in the fantasy accounting above (and even horror). Also, word counts here, like fantasy, are often restricted to the lower end for novellas. You’ll find a lot of the big names you’d expect among these markets, including those that publish only sci-fi, such as Analog Science Fiction Fact.


Next is mystery/crime, and options are limited here.

Mystery/Crime Token (D) Token (SG) Semi-Pro (D) Semi-Pro (SG) Pro (D) Pro (SG)
Novelette 1 6 1 2 2 3
Novella 1 3 0 0 2 3

There really aren’t that many semi-pro and pro markets for mystery/crime of any length, and you’re really restricted if you want to write something longer than a short story. Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine are the big names here. Note Hitchcock’s does not accept novellas, and while Ellery Queen does, they cap them at 20,000 words.


Finally, let’s look at romance and erotica.

Romance Token (D) Token (SG) Semi-Pro (D) Semi-Pro (SG) Pro (D) Pro (SG)
Novelette 4 8 1 1 0 1
Novella 4 6 0 0 0 1

Your options are even more limited in the romance and erotica genres. The only pro romance market that came up was East of the Web Romance Imprint, which does publish novellas up to 40,000 words. I found no professional erotica markets listed on either database for novellas and only one semi-pro.

Pro Markets for Novelettes and Novellas

Finally, here’s a list of all the pro markets from the tables above that publish novelettes and novellas and where they cap word counts for novellas. As always, make sure you read the guidelines thoroughly before you submit to any of these publishers.

Market Genres Novelette Novella
Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine M, T Y N
Amazing Stories S Y N
Analog Science Fiction & Fact S Y to 40,000 words
Asimov’s Science Fiction F, S Y to 20,000 words
Beneath Ceaseless Skies F Y N
Clarkesworld Magazine F, H, S Y to 16,000 words
East of the Web Children’s Stories F, S Y to 40,000 words
East of the Web Horror Imprint H Y to 40,000 words
East of the Web Mystery Imprint M Y to 40,000 words
East of the Web Romance Imprint R, M, T Y to 40,000 words
East of the Web Science Fiction/Fantasy Imprint F, S Y to 40,000 words
Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine M Y to 20,000 words
Fantasy & Science Fiction (F&SF) F, S Y to 25,000 words
Future Science Fiction Digest S Y N
Grantville Gazette S Y unspecified
Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show F, H, S Y to 17,500 words
Reckoning F, S Y to 40,000 words
Strange Horizons F, H, S Y N
Universe Annex [Grantville Gazette] F, S Y to 40,000 words
Writers of the Future Contest F, S Y to 17,000 words

F – fantasy, H – horror, M – mystery, R – romance, S – science fiction, T – thriller

You’ll of course notice a lot of overlap, especially with fantasy and science fiction, and slim pickings for pro horror, romance, and mystery markets. As I said earlier, this is not an exhaustive list. It’s a snapshot of which publishers are currently open to submissions and are listed on either Duotrope or The Submission Grinder.

So, what’s the take-away? I don’t want to give the impression you shouldn’t write long form genre fiction, but it’s important to understand that works over 7,500 words limits your options for publication in traditional magazines, zines, and anthologies, especially if you want to submit to semi-pro and pro markets. That said, sometimes a story just needs to be the length it needs to be.

Besides the markets I’ve listed above, what other options does a novelette/novella writer have? Well, a few big publishers, like Tor.com and Hydra (a digital imprint of Random House), occasionally accept submissions for novellas (both are currently closed to submissions). I’ve also seen a number of smaller book publishers put out open calls for novellas. Examples include Parvus Press (recently closed to submissions) and Twelfth Planet Press (open to submissions). A little research is likely to pull up more small publishers that produce novellas, just make sure you vet these markets thoroughly to make sure they’re a good fit for your work and that they’re legit publishers (not vanity publishers in disguise, for example).

Lastly, there’s self-publishing, which seems to be a popular option for novellas, and I see a fair amount of authors going that route. Obviously, self-publishing comes with its own share of challenges, and you definitely want to do your homework before diving in.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for today. If you know of any good markets for genre novelettes and novellas, please share them in the comments.

Multi-Sub Publishers: Skip or Submit?

Occasionally, you will run into literary or genre markets that accept multiple submissions, where you can submit two, three, or more stories at the same time. These markets are pretty rare in my experience, much rarer than markets that accept simultaneous submissions. In general, they also tend to publish shorter works, either flash fiction or poetry, but there are a few that will take full-length short stories at two or three at a time.

So, providing you have enough stories sitting around, should you send multiple submissions if a market accepts them? I say yes, and here are two reasons why.

  1. Shotgun analytics. If there’s a better way to get an idea of the kind of story a market is looking for (without reading every issue of their magazine), I don’t know what it is. For example, I recently submitted three flash stories to market that accepts multi-subs, and each one was markedly different in tone and content. Now, even all three get rejected, I feel like I’ll have a fairly good idea what they’re NOT looking for, and that will allow me to dial in my submissions next time. Update: I wrote this post a few days ago, and since then I’ve received two rejections from the market I mentioned earlier. I received one standard form rejection and one higher-tier form rejection with an invite to submit more work. That info at least points me in the general direction of what the editors might be looking for.
  2. Better odds. Sure, it’s possible that you send three stories that the editors hate, but I think you have a better chance at an acceptance or at least some solid feedback with multiple submissions. This kind of plays into my first point. If you send stories that are all fairly different, I think you stand a better chance at getting an editor’s attention with one of them, and, at the very least, getting some useful feedback.

Now, there are potential downsides to multiple submissions too. If you’re gonna send multiple submissions, you should be prepared for multiple rejections, maybe all in the same day. That can be a blow to the ol’ ego if they’re all form letters. Also, multi-sub publishers may not accept sim-subs, and if the publisher is particularly slow to respond, you could have two or more stories tied up for a while. Both are factors you should consider before hitting send.

Here are two good markets that accept multi-subs. I’ve sent submissions to both.

  • Flash Fiction Online: This market accepts everything: genre, literary, you name it. Like their name suggests, they only accept flash fiction between 500-1000 words. You cans send up to three stories at a time, and they accept reprints too. So you can mix you submissions between original fiction and reprint. They pay pro rates for originals (0.6/word) and less for reprints (.02/word).
  • Kaleidotrope: This is a semi-pro spec-fic market that accepts up to three short stories at a time. They’re a bit different in that they’ll accept stories up to 10,000 words.

What are your thoughts on multi-subs? Know of any good markets that accept them? Tell me all about it in the comments.

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.

Writers, Be Heard: Speculative Audio Markets

If you’re like me—and I assume you are since you read my blog—then you probably spend a lot of time submitting fiction to the multidinous array of print and digital publishers out there. But there may be a type of market of which you’re unaware, like I was until just a short time ago. What I’m talking about are the markets that publish audio versions of short stories. There are a bunch of these, actually, and I’ve been submitting to a few of them pretty regularly. So why should you add audio publishers to your list of targeted markets? Ooh, I feel a numbered list coming on.

  1. Media diversity. Audio books are pretty damn popular, and there are folks who even prefer them over dead-tree or digital reading. People who spend a lot of time in their cars dig ’em (commuters and such), as do many artist types who like to listen to books while they paint, sculpt, and whatnot. In fact, I don’t know a single working artist that isn’t way into audio books. Basically, it’s a chance to reach an audience with your work you might not otherwise. That sure is a big selling point for me.
  2. Good pay rates. In general, I’ve found the audio markets pay a little better than most print markets. It’s not uncommon to see solid semi-pro rates (around .03/word), and there are a few that pay pro rates (.06/word and above). Admittedly, my experience with audio markets has been limited to those that publish speculative fiction, primarily horror, so pay rates could be much different outside of these markets.
  3. Reprint friendly. This is a big one for me. Most audio markets I submit to are very receptive to reprints; in fact, I know one that even prefers them. What’s even better is some audio markets pay the same rates for reprints they do for original fiction. This openness to reprints makes sense, if you think about it. They’re publishing the work in an entirely different medium, so the existence of a print version of the story elsewhere really isn’t competition. In fact, some of these markets will even link to the story’s print version if it’s available. Getting one of your reprints published in audio is great way to revisit and reuse some of your best work, and, like I said in point one, introduce it to a new audience.

Now that I’ve told you why you should consider submitting to audio markets, let me point you at some good ones.

At the top of the list are the four Escape Artist podcasts: EscapePod, PseudoPod, PodCastle, and Cast of Wonders. These markets publish sci-fi, horror, fantasy, and YA respectively. They are awesome for a number of reasons. One, they pay pro-rates for original fiction and really solid rates for reprints. Two, they accept simultaneous submissions, and they get back to you in a reasonable amount of time, about 45 days, which, in my book, is fine for a publisher that allows sim-subs. Lastly, they are awesome because they accepted my story “Night Games” for PseudoPod, which will air in September 2016. I’m more than a little excited about it.

Next up is The Drabblecast, an award-winning market who describe themselves thusly: Strange Stories, By Strange Authors, for Strange Listeners. As you can probably guess, they’re a spec market with a pretty open definition of what constitutes speculative fiction. The Drabblecast is a semi-pro publisher that pays .03/word, and they publish short fiction, flash fiction, and micro fiction. Like the Escape Artist podcasts, they are very open to reprints, and they accept simultaneous and multiple submissions. The Drabblecast has a very fast turn rate, averaging about a week for rejections and a month for acceptances. All that adds up to a great publisher with very flexible submissions and content policies.

Know of any good audio markets? Tells us about them in the comments.