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Short Story Markets For Speculative Fiction

Updated on September 4, 2012

The short story has seen better days. A beloved medium before the invention of television, writing short fiction is still an essential step for writers to learn their craft, though many writers choose to skip this step because they have few places in which to publish. This is a real shame, because writing short stories gives writers experience at cutting a story down to its essential elements. Writing a short piece is harder than writing a long one and by the time a writer pens his first novel, having experience writing short stories will make sure that his abilities are already sharp.

Fortunately, for writers of science fiction and fantasy, the loyal followings that these genres inspire have allowed a small oasis in the desert that is the short story market. Many of these publications also publish horror, a genre often included in the category of "speculative" but has also fallen on hard times. Getting a list of up to date publications can often be difficult, with the large number of publications closing for submissions and closing down altogether. What follows is a list of some of the top science fiction and fantasy publications, how to submit and some basic information.


As one of the fastest publications to respond to internet submissions, Lightspeed lives up to its name. The publication is one of the most competitive out there right now, publishing some of the biggest names in science fiction and fantasy on a regular basis. Despite this you will get a response to your story sometimes as quickly as the same day. Don't let the quick response time get you overeager. A story submitted to Lightspeed would have to be first rate in order to get accepted. They pay 5 cents a word. Word limit is 7,500 words.


Clarkesworld also has a very fast response time but they are also very competitive. The magazine tends to favor science fiction but also will publish fantasy and horror if the editors like it. A very challenging market, they pay 10 cents a word for the first 4,000 words and 5 cents a word after it. They will take stories up to 8,000 words but around 4,000 is the length that they prefer.


Shimmer is a magazine that seeks contemporary fantasy but also will publish other kinds of speculative fiction. Only short pieces will be excepted here, they have a 5,000 word limit, but pay 5 cents a word. Their tones tend to go a little toward the dark. They also have a fairly fast response time, somewhere around three weeks for most submissions.


Similar to Shimmer, Apex also leans toward the dark side of fantasy but also publishes science fiction and horror. Getting published by them is difficult and they have a 5,000 word limit, but they are one of the best places to submit speculative fiction. Their response times average about 30 days.

Daily Science Fiction

Daily Science Fiction will give you a new science fiction story every day, which makes the chances of getting a story accepted pretty high. Despite the title they also accept fantasy, though no horror. They accept stories as long a 10 000 words but they prefer to keep it pretty short. Authors of flash fiction will find a good home for their stories here. Payment is 5 cents a word. Most responses are within 30 days.

Strange Horizons

Strange Horizons is another great source for short speculative fiction. Paying 7 cents a word, they are also one of the highest paying. They are looking for strong science fiction and fantasy stories, preferably under 5,000 words but they take stories as long as 9,000. They respond to all submissions in under 70 days and most within two weeks.

Intergalactic Medicine Show

Founded by legendary science fiction author Orson Scott Card, this magazine is well respected in the industry but is not quite as challenging as some of the others on this list. Because Card is a devout Mormon there are some content restrictions and this probably is not the best place to send your story that satirizes organized religion. There are no word restrictions but the pay pf 6 cents a word stops at 7500 word and reduces to 5 cents.


If you aren't set on seeing your story in print then Podcastle might be a good fit for you. There are several online story podcasts but this one has one of the best pay rates and most prestige. They take flash fiction and stories up to 6,000 words and pay a flat rate of 100 dollars a piece.

Three-Lobe Burning Eye

Wanting "weird fiction", this magazine will take stories up to 7,000 words and pay up to 3 cents a word. Because it is only published twice a year getting a story published with them can be pretty competitive. They respond to most submissions within 30 days.

Asimov's Science Fiction

One of the oldest and most famous science fiction magazines, they recently opened themselves up for online submissions. Asimov's publishes short stories up to 7,500 words but also publishes works up to novella length, though usually these are by more famous writers. Response times are said to be about five weeks but don't be surprised if it takes a little longer. They pay 6 cents a word.


Analog is remarkably similar to Asimov's in terms of pay rates and lengths though they tend to be a little more toward the harder side of science fiction. They also have a slightly faster response time, so between the two of them, if response time is a big factor for you, Analog is the one with the edge i this category. Pay rate is between 6-8 cents a word.

Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction

This magazine does not accept electronic submissions, but leaving it off the list would seem like crime. Like both Asimov and Analog it publishes short fiction up to 7500 words and also longer pieces up to novella length. They claim response times to average about eight weeks and payments between 6-9 cents per word.


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