3 Lists of Paying Sci-Fi Publishers

Written by A Guest Author | July 27, 2017

By Kelli Fitzpatrick

As a science fiction author, I frequently find myself searching for homes for my stories, so I keep the three web pages below bookmarked on my desktop and mobile home screen as quick reference guides to potential markets. I prefer to be paid for my work (as opposed to publication without compensation), so I choose to submit to professional markets first. A professional market is defined in the sci-fi world as being one that pays 6 cents per word or better. Some of these markets allow simultaneous submissions (meaning you can send the story to more than one publisher at the same time), but some do not. Read each specific publisher’s guidelines carefully before submitting.

Please note that none of these lists are exhaustive—they are merely handy guides to some of the more well-known paying markets in sci-fi. It should be noted that there are several non-paying markets out there that you may wish to submit to as well, depending on your goals as an author (though they are not covered in this article).

SFWA Qualifying Markets

Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) is one of them most long-standing and well-respected organizations for authors and publishers of science fiction, fantasy, and related genres. To qualify for membership in the organization, authors must sell a story to a qualifying market; each of these markets is vetted by SFWA for several standards of legitimacy (including professional pay rates) before being granted qualifying status. They add new publishers to the list as they qualify, and remove ones that no longer fit their guidelines. As a member of SFWA, this is always my first stop to search for markets. Unfortunately, the market names are not hot-linked, so you will have to Google the names to find their websites and submission guidelines. SFWA also runs the Writer Beware website, which helps educate authors against scams and is a good place to investigate a potential market if in doubt.

Ralan.com

With a run of over twenty years on the web and counting, Ralan.com is—quite remarkably—maintained by a single person, its creator, Ralan. One of this site’s strength is in its ability to filter the expansive market list by pay rate (professional, semi-pro, nominal, etc) using the purple links at the top of the page. It even includes markets for manuscript types other than short stories (such as anthologies, books, poetry, etc). Another strength is that each market name is hot-linked to that publisher’s website, and each entry on the list is followed by a series of essential at-a-glance information, such as types of speculative fiction accepted (sci-fi fantasy, horror, etc), accepted word count, response time (RT), and much more. I find this site extremely helpful when I need to place a story into a specific word count length or response time, etc, because I can simply scan through the entries and find ones that match. It should be noted that Ralan.com is an independent site, and while I have always found the information to be reliable, always check the publisher’s submission guidelines on their website before submitting.

Top Science Fiction and Fantasy Magazines

This is a ranked list of sci-fi and fantasy magazines, compiled by writer Eric Schwitzgebel based on a formula he created that focuses primarily on the number of industry awards and nominations (Hugos, Nebulas, etc) each magazine’s stories have received in the last ten years. The author’s purpose in creating this list was, as he states, to investigate for himself which markets were well-regarded in the field. It should be noted that this is one person’s ranking, that there is some subjectivity to his method of point assignment, and that awards are certainly not the end-all be-all of value or importance in the genre fiction world. There are plenty of independent presses (not on the list) that are publishing engaging and intellectually challenging stories. However, if you aspire to write award-winning short sci-fi, these are likely publications you should be reading, and considering submitting to.


Kelli Fitzpatrick is a science fiction author, educator, and community activist based in mid-Michigan. Her short story “The Sunwalkers” was a winner of the Star Trek Strange New Worlds writing contest, and is published in the Strange New Worlds 2016 anthology from Simon and Schuster. Her sci-fi piece “To Stick a Star” took 4th place in the 2016 international NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge. Some of Kelli’s essays analyzing sci-fi media are forthcoming in print anthologies from ATB Publishing and Sequart. She advises writing groups for teens in her community. She can be found at kellifitzpatrick.com and @KelliFitzWrites