Submit to Fiction Magazines with Themes

I love magazines with themes or prompts, because they expose the many, many ways our minds work differently to produce so many stories from one kernel of an idea.

For all you fiction writers out there, if you're having writer's block or if you want to challenge yourself to write something you normally wouldn't, try writing for one of the magazines or e-zines below. 

Paying Markets ($10-$50)

THEMA Literary Journal.  Each issue is based closely around a specific theme.  All genres.  Reprints accepted.  Current and upcoming themes:  "Was that today?" and "We thought he'd never leave."  Submission guidelines

The First Line Literary Magazine.  Each story must start with the same sentence.  All genres.  Current and upcoming first lines:  "Fifty miles west of Bloomington lies Hillsboro, a monument to middle-class malaise," and "We went as far as the car would take us."  Submission Guidelines.

Pantheon.  As the name suggests, this magazine's issues center around various gods and goddesses.  All genres welcome.  Reprints accepted, but unpaid. Current themes:  "Ares" and "Gaia."  Submission Guidelines.

Infective Ink.  All genres.  Current and upcoming themes:  "The future of dating," "Great friendships."  Submission Guidelines.

On the Premises.  This is run like a contest, but with no fee.  Third to first prizes $100-$180.  Honorable mentions, $40.  All genres.  Current Contest:  "Decisions, Decisions."  Submission Guidelines.

Long Count Press. E-book anthologies of fantasy fiction.  Currently closed to submissions, but check in the future.  Last theme:  "Mesoamerican Fantasy."  Submission Guidelines.

Timeless Tales.  Retold fairy tales.  Next theme:  "Twelve Dancing Princesses."  Reprints accepted.  Submission Guidelines.

Subterrain.  A Canadian magazine that requires paper submissions (and an SASE with an IRC).  Upcoming themes:  "Pulp Fiction," and "Meat."  Submission Guidelines.

Semi-Pro and Pro Markets

Crossed Genres.  Science fiction or fantasy only.  Current and upcoming themes:  "Typical" and "Robots, Androids, and Cyborgs."  5 cents/word.  Submission Guidelines.

Unlikely Story.  Their two main themes are "entomology" (bugs) and "cryptography" (codes and ciphers).  They also have other theme issues, like "cartography" (maps).  All genres.   5 cents/word.  Reprints accepted at a lower rate.  Submission Guidelines.

Crab Orchard Review.  Literary.  One yearly theme (submissions accepted October).  This year's theme:  "Stories that covers any of the ways our world and ourselves have changed due to the advancements, setbacks, tragedies, and triumphs of the last twenty years, 1995-2015."  $100 minimum.  Submission Guidelines.

Penumbra.  Speculative fiction only.  Upcoming themes:  "Pain" and "Lewis Carroll."  5 cents/word.  Submission Guidelines.

Cobblestone Publishing's non-fiction magazines for kids 9-14 accept 800-words stories based on specific themes.  Your choices:  Calliope (world history), Cobblestone (American history), Dig (archeology), Faces (world culture and geography), and Odyssey (science).  Check the guidelines for query dates and themes.  Very good rates.  Submission Guidelines (choose the individual magazine you're interested in).

Guidelines

Fiction magazines these days come and go, so be sure to verify the details before submitting.  And, as always, read the submission guidelines, word count requirements, and theme information very closely.  Some are so specific you'll pretty much have to write a story with the magazine in mind.  Others are looser, so you can match up stories you've already written. 

Whatever you do, have fun and keep writing.



Melinda Brasher's first fiction sale was in THEMA, one of the magazines above.  She has other stories published in various magazines, including On the Premises.  She also loves to travel and is currently writing a budget traveler's guide to cruising Alaska.

9 comments:

  1. Melinda, what great tips and leads for writing for fiction magazines. I've been wanting to get into magazine writing as a freelance writer, but have jumped into so many other things.
    I'm moving again, second time in less than a year, but once I'm settled in again, I'll be looking into it.

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  2. Thank you for sharing these with us, Melinda! A treasure trove indeed!

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  3. You're welcome. I hope you have fun with it.

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  4. I love writing magazine articles - fiction and non fiction.

    Thank-you for the research. I'm going to check some of them out right now!

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  5. A great list, Kathleen. Working to a theme is a great block beater, and publication in magazines like these is the best way to get an agent or publisher's attention too.

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  6. This is a really neat theme! I'm going to send the URL to a couple of my clients! I find submitting to mags (and issues) with themes is easier once one has a battery of material saved up. I'm not crazy about writing to prompts (or themes),

    Best,
    Carolyn Howard-Johnson
    Loving helping writers get read with my HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers including the multi award-winning (newly formatted!) second edition of The Frugal Editor (e-book only at least for a while!) http://bit.ly/FrugalEditorKind

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  7. great leads and inspiration to submit again. Thanks

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  8. Melinda, thank you for sharing your information. It is a big head start in finding magazines to write for. You've made the job so much easier!

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  9. Dear Melinda,
    Thanks for sharing these magazines and what they are looking for. Awesome!

    Never Give Up
    Joan

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