What Are the Different Types of Fiction Journals?

Fiction journals come in a vibrant array of forms, each offering a unique gateway to storytelling. From literary magazines showcasing emerging voices to genre-specific publications celebrating mystery, sci-fi, or romance, these periodicals are treasure troves of creativity. They can be mainstream or niche, print or digital. What's your preferred narrative voyage? Discover the perfect fiction journal to embark on your next reading adventure.
D. Nelson
D. Nelson

Some of the most common types of fiction journals are those that publish genre fiction and those that publish literary or scholarly fiction. Users can often purchase journals from bookstores, where they may be shelved with the magazines. In some cases, however, fiction journals are shelved with conventional novels and collections of shorts stories, often with anthologies. Many journals appear online. Readers can usually access these Internet journals free of charge, though some may require users to pay subscription fees.

Fiction journals are periodicals that specialize in publishing short stories, interviews with writers, and articles or essays regarding the business or craft of writing and publishing fiction. Young and new writers who have not yet written or published books often publish in these periodicals to develop readership and potentially to earn money. Journals that are more established or prestigious may publish stories by authors who have already written and published books.

Woman standing behind a stack of books
Woman standing behind a stack of books

Publishers who run fictions journals that specialize in genre fiction often prefer to publish one specific genre. A genre — such as romance, mystery, or science fiction — is a group of works that have similar areas of focus. For example, a journal that publishes science fiction stories might only consider submissions that cover topics related to aliens or futuristic technology.

When fiction journals are considered literary, they publish work that might not fit a particular genre. Publishers of these periodicals may be concerned with the quality or style of writing in their submissions. It is common for literary fiction journals to be published and funded by universities and other educational institutions, though many are independently owned.

Contributors to fiction journals sometimes receive payment for their work. Payment might be in the form of money. Other journals might pay contributors by sending them free copies of the issues in which they were published. Free subscriptions are another common form of payment for fiction journal contributors.

Some fiction journals hold contests. In these cases, applicants often must pay a fee. Prizes for those selected as winners may include cash and publication. Journals that do hold contests often do so to raise money to support their operations. Contests can act as important sources of funding for journals, especially those that are independently funded.

Journals that only appear online often do not provide contributors with any kind of payment. These kinds of fiction journals are often inexpensive to manage since they do not require costs associated with the printing and distribution of conventional print journals. Many established print journals do, however, have web pages on which they might offer fiction that is not available in their print editions.

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Discussion Comments


@Mor - What they need to do is really come into the modern era and get hold of the e-book generation. Short stories are actually fairly ideal for people who have relatively short attention spans, so there's no reason people can't be persuaded to want to buy and read creative writing journals again.


@pleonasm - I know that some people simply can't afford it, but I have to wonder who is buying these journals if even the people who want to submit to them don't? It's no wonder they are all downsizing these days and going out of business.

It used to be that you could make a living submitting to literary magazines, but that is no longer true for the vast majority of writers. There simply aren't enough of them around that pay more than a pittance for work. And that's because no one buys them any more.


If you're thinking about submitting to some journals, the best thing you can do is look up a whole bunch of old copies to see what kind of thing they like. You don't always have to pay for them, as you can get them from libraries or sometimes look at archives online.

You only get one chance to submit each piece to each journal, so don't waste it by submitting badly. Read and follow their guidelines religiously, and if they have any other information available on what they would prefer in submissions, read that as well and take it seriously. If they say something like, we don't like stories that begin with the protagonist waking up, then don't take that as a challenge. Fiction journals get enough submissions to keep them in recycled paper for a hundred years. They aren't desperately waiting for your contribution.

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      Woman standing behind a stack of books