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Lazette Gifford,
Publisher and Editor

Margaret McGaffey Fisk,
Senior Associate Editor

J.A. Marlow,
Assoicate Editor

Issue # 57
May/June 2010

Table of Contents

Top Markets in Fantasy

By Margaret McGaffey Fisk

Copyright © 2010, Margaret McGaffey Fisk, All Rights Reserved

The speculative fiction market is an umbrella that contains a number of distinct genres rather than a series of subgenres. Last issue I discussed markets that accept stories from several or all of the genres that make up speculative fiction. Other top markets only accept works that fall within a particular genre. For this issue, I will be pointing out some of my favorite markets for short works of fantasy.

The genre defined as fantasy covers a range from traditional folktales like those in A Thousand and One Nights or Brothers Grimm to modern-day urban fantasy. Even technology-based stories can fit in this genre if they take a more fantastic turn. Steampunk, which blends a Wild West sensibility with Victorian steam power, is considered fantasy in part because of how the environment functions beyond real-world limitations.

Because of this range, as with any market, reading the guidelines is critical. Just because a particular magazine has fantasy in its title does not mean that your urban fantasy will be welcome, or if it focuses on urban fantasy, high fantasy has no place there. Fantasy markets often prefer stories that fall into specific subgenres or which have certain focuses. Especially at the pro market level, editors take the time to give guidance on what they want to see. This includes anything from examples of works they enjoy, to lists of story concepts seen too often, to previously published stories. However, if your story isn't clearly outside of the market's interest, best to let the editors judge for themselves.

When you have a story that falls clearly in one of the genres, it can be to your benefit to try markets that want that genre before the more general speculative markets mentioned last issue simply because you are not competing with stories in horror or science fiction as well as fantasy. However, you are also less likely to run across a pro magazine with fewer fantasy submissions than needed because all the submissions are fantasy. Whether you choose to try the crossover or specialized markets first, you should be aware of both as you put together your submission list.

Here are a few of the fantasy-only markets that I have on my list, along with the reasons I consider them the first stops for any appropriate stories:

Beneath Ceaseless Skies -

Though a relative newcomer, starting in 2008, Beneath Ceaseless Skies (BCS) offers a lot to the submitting author. Besides being a SFWA-qualified pro market, the editor goes out of his way to make BCS friendly to authors.

The submission guidelines define exactly what the market wants. At the very start, its market segment is stated as literary adventure fantasy, but the guidelines do not stop there. What follows is a detailed description of which subgenres are appropriate and why, as well as information on the editorial preference (second-world, character-focused, and literary style). The guidelines also explain format requirements, the process your story will follow, and payment and rights information. The submission process is via email, a convenience to authors, especially those located in different countries or for whom getting to the Post Office is difficult.

Unlike most pro markets, BCS also offers specific feedback on stories that are rejected. This makes submitting to BCS first a reasonable idea because even with a rejection the editor may pinpoint something you have missed. This can offer you key insights into bringing your manuscript up a level and increase your story's chances at the next market.
Realms of Fantasy -

Realms of Fantasy moved to a new publisher in 2009, but the staff went with the magazine, ensuring continuity of editorial focus. Realms has been around as a respected pro-level market for 15 years, providing a broad range of fantasy content. Instead of limiting the scope in its guidelines, Realms encourages the submission of all types of fantasy. The only exclusion mentioned is for science fiction, an indication that not everyone listens to what the market wants.

While not as friendly to authors as BCS what with the affectionately named blue forms of death (a level one rejection form) and the requirement for hard copy submissions, this magazine is well-known in the industry. If you manage to sell a story to Realms, you can mention this sale in any group that includes short story speculative fiction readers and there will be no question that they've heard of the magazine. The same is true with listing Realms in a query letter to agents, should you write novels as well, making submissions to Realms a worthwhile step.

Fantasy Magazine -

Fantasy Magazine has been around a little longer than BCS, starting in 2005. Like Realms, the staff is interested in the broader spectrum of fantasy, but with a unique element that sets the story above cookie-cutter fantasy. This is an electronic magazine offered in blog form with a mix of non-fiction and fiction. The stories are solid, and the editors are well known within the speculative fiction writing community. Many of the authors published here are also found on awards lists. Submissions are through an electronic form, which means convenience with no question of whether your story has arrived. The system sends a confirmation, along with a tracking code that allows you to monitor your story's progress if you so choose. However, with their rapid turnaround of less than seven days, monitoring is rarely necessary.
Black Gate

Moving into its 10th year, Black Gate is one of the leading fantasy markets. The website includes a list of authors who have appeared between its covers, which shows a number of familiar names. While its pro status has been shaky at times, this is another magazine that is widely recognized. Like Realms, Black Gate is a print magazine. Some non-fiction content and comics are available on the website along with excerpts from the magazine and the occasional full story to give reader and writers alike some idea of what will be published.

Black Gate focuses on the adventure fantasy segment of the genre. Other stories sometimes find a home there, but it's rare. The guidelines offer hints as to common reasons for rejection allowing authors to improve their chances, and submissions are welcome both through email and postal mail. Even when the market is open for submissions (it closes periodically to avoid purchasing stories too far in advance of the publication date), the turnaround is very slow. However, to balance that out, the editors try to offer feedback on every story that is not accepted.
Sword &Sorceress -

Unlike the previous markets, Sword & Sorceress is an anthology. This publication began as a project organized by Marion Zimmer Bradley. The anthology has been adopted by Elisabeth Waters and Norilana Books, who recently announced the intention of producing Sword & Sorceress annually. My reasons for highlighting this market are complicated because I'm determined to be published by Marion Zimmer Bradley even if it's second hand. However, that does not change the fact that this anthology is one of the longest standing, and has launched a decent number of writing careers. As with Realms, the title Sword & Sorceress is widely recognized. Should you be accepted, your story will appear beside well-known authors such as Deborah J. Ross and K.D. Wentworth.

Sword & Sorceress offers the convenience of an email submission process. Also, if accepted, you receive an advance for your stories that is pro-level with the possibility of royalties in the future, something rarely found in short fiction markets.
These are a good starting point, but don't forget to look at the many other markets available through resources such as Just remember: start at the top. A story can only be accepted once.

The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.
~Sylvia Plath