Recently, I was reading the biography of Philip K. Dick, the author of such notable stories as Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (the story that the movie Blade Runner was based on), Total Recall and Minority Report.
Philip published 44 novels and 121 short stories in his short lifetime of 53 years. It is assumed that part of the reason for his prolific writing is that this is how the author earned his living. When Philip needed some money, he relied on his imagination to produce a story; that story was then sold to a magazine.
Authors today can still make money by writing fictional stories and essays and selling them to magazines as well as traditional and online publishers. The easiest way to do this is by submitting the work to a literary journal.
There are plenty of such journals to choose from. While many literary rags are tightly associated with a college or university, others are “free -standing” structures headed by a devoted team of editors, journalists and sometimes even marketing folks. In most cases, these individuals have regular jobs outside of their literary interests.
20 Sites to Get Published (and Paid) for Your Literary Submissions
Here is just a sampling of 20 available literary journals that pay money to writers for submitting their prose, essays and poetry. Most of these sites are free to enter and submissions can be made online (saving you on postage).
Abyss & Apex– This journal accepts entries on “speculative and imaginative fiction and poetry” and looks for stories that are character-driven. Payment for published entries is at 6 cents/word for up to 1,250 words, and it appears that longer entries (up to 10,000 words) receive a flat rate of $75.
AGNI– This print and online journal accepts essays, poems and fiction for nine months of the year. Accepted entries are paid $10 per page for prose and $20 per page for poetry, with a $150 maximum payout.
Analog– This print and digital magazine publishes science fiction stories 20,000 words or under. Winning stories are paid 8-10 cents/word. Science must be an integral part of the submitted story.
Apex– This magazine is looking for sci-fi, fantasy and horror short stories that span no longer than 7,500 words. If accepted, payment is 6 cents/word.
Asimov’s Science Fiction– Started by the author of the same name, Asimov’s Science Fiction accepts stories up to 20,000 words in length that are strongly character-driven. Winning stories are paid out at 8-10 cents/word for the first 7,500 words, and 8 cents for each word over 7,500.
Beneath Ceaseless Skies– This periodical seeks narratives that introduce alternate worlds and/or realities and focus on character trajectories. Submissions should be no longer than 11,000 words. Payment is at 6 cents/word.
Boulevard– This publication accepts essays, fiction and poetry of up to 8,000 words. Payments for published submissions are $100-$300 for prose and $25-$250 for poetry.
Camera Obscura Journal of Literature and Photography- This periodical accepts prose and poetry submissions, with published entries being awarded $1,000. The general word guideline is 250-8,000 words, but the periodical is quite flexible on this matter, and even entire novellas (up to 30,000 words) are accepted. This was one periodical whose guidelines I thoroughly enjoyed reading.
Cincinnati Review– All genres of fiction are published here, with the criteria being that the “work has energy” and is “rich in language and plot structure.” Published entries earn $25 per double-spaced page.
Clarkesworld– Submit your sci-fi and fantasy fiction here; published entries earn 10 cents/word up to the first 5,000 words, and 8 cents/word for each word beyond 5,000. Entries must be between 1,000-16,000 words.
Lightspeed– This sci-fi journal accepts science fiction submissions that range from 1,500-10,000 words in length, with stories around 5,000 words preferred. Writers who are published earn 8 cents/word.
Lorian Hemingway Short Story Competition– Started by Ernest Hemingway’s granddaughter back in 1981, this contest accepts stories no longer than 3,500 words. The prize is $1,000 plus publication of that story in the Saturday Evening Post.
One Story– This periodical publishes just one story of literary fiction every three to four weeks. Stories must be between 3,000-8,000 words, and accepted entries earn $500.
Shimmer– This periodical is looking for speculative fiction stories that contain strong female characters and plots. Contemporary fantasy tales are most welcome. Payment is at 5 cents/word or a $50 minimum. Submitted content should not span beyond 7,500 words, and the preferred length is 4,000 words.
Strange Horizons– If you enjoy writing “what if” scenarios, this magazine is looking for writers of speculative fiction. Accepted entries must be 10,000 words or under; payment is at 8 cents/word.
The Antioch Review– Article, fiction and poetry submissions up to 5,000 words are welcome here, and published entries are paid at a rate of $20 per printed page.
The Georgia Review– This journal publishes essays, fiction and book reviews on varied topics. While there is no length limit, the majority of published stories run about 5,000 words. Payment is $50 per printed page.
The Sun Magazine– This publication accepts several different literary media, including essays, interviews, fiction, and poetry. Submissions should span no longer than 7,000 words. Payment ranges from $300-$2,000 for essays and interviews, $300-$1,500 for fiction, and $100-$200 for poetry.
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The Threepenny Review– This publication accepts fiction stories up to 4,000 words as well as poetry and pays $400 and $200 for published entries.
Virginia Quarterly– VQ accepts fiction spanning 2,000-8,000 words, poetry and even non-fiction. Payment for short fiction is $1,000+, poems are paid out at $200 each or $1,000 for a set of five. Personal essays or literary critiques get 25 cents/word.
How to Get Published and Paid for Your Fiction (Again and Again)
One of the advantages of online submission is that you can take one short story or poem and send it out to a handful of literary sites without too much effort. This vastly increases your chances of being published- and paid.
Another good tactic? Read the submission guidelines. Editors say over and again how many literary submissions are good…but fail to meet submission guidelines and so are deleted or tossed. Don’t lose out on your chance to be published because you didn’t read and follow directions.
You may also wish to invest in some writing and editing software, which can save you on time and frustration down the line. The Novel Factory is a decent piece of software that costs about $40 and helps you organize your chapters and characters. The Hemingway App helps track your spelling and grammatical errors and alerts you whenever you’ve committed a writing faux pas (like writing in passive voice).
Finally, don’t become discouraged if your first attempt at getting paid for your literature doesn’t work out. Most authors have to make several attempts- and draft revisions- before being published. If you are able to, find yourself a fellow writer, editor, or even a friend to look over your words before sending them out. And accept their critique in stride.