By Anne E. Johnson
The painful truth is that Highlights for Children and the Cricket Group magazines reject the vast majority of stories sent to the. Fiction writers aiming for the under-18 crowd need other options besides the highest-profile publications, which are also the hardest to get into.
Here are a few markets that buy short fiction for children and/or teens. And while you won’t get rich writing for these markets, you’ll get some nice clips and maybe find an editor who really loves your work. Be sure to familiarize yourself with each publication before submitting, since each has a particular editorial flair. And be aware that submission periods open and close throughout the year.
- CBAY. The name of this science fiction publisher stands for Children’s Brains Are Yummy, but they rarely seek fiction for little kids. They recently started publishing YA anthologies, for which they take short stories and flash fiction. That’s your best bet. Calls for anthology submissions are specific but intermittent, so keep checking back. Usually pay $10-$30 per story. (Hint: scroll down past the section where they say they’re not taking book submissions.) Submission guidelines.
- Bumples. After a few years’ hiatus, Bumples is back! And now they pay $30 per story. They take both children’s and middle-grade pieces, with an emphasis on fun and adventure. They especially love animal stories. Submission guidelines.
- FrostFire Worlds. Billed as being for kids 8-18 and beyond, this print magazine from Alban Lake Publishing buys fantasy and science fiction stories up to 6000 words, preferring stories with strong world-building. They are also open to considering series. Pay is $15 per story, plus one print copy. Submission guidelines.
- Spaceports & Spidersilk. This e-zine buys middle-grade stories (although the guidelines say 8-17, they prefer stories for the younger end of that spectrum). The pay is only $6 per piece, but they are willing to take some pretty “out-there” stuff that might be a hard sell elsewhere. They especially like stories with a “gross” factor. Submission guidelines.
- Refractions. YA fantasy stories with a delicate, magical touch are the preferred type of submissions at this semi-annual magazine published by Golden Fleece Press. Maximum 5000 words. Pays $50 per story. Submission guidelines.
- Wee Tales. This is the middle-grade sister of Refractions, also from Golden Fleece Press. Again, make your fantasy story magical and breathless, but aim it for ages 8-12. Maximum 2000 words. Pays $50 per story. Submission guidelines.
- Youth Imagination. Silver Pen Publishing puts out a series of fiction e-zines, and this is their young adult offering. They prefer stories about real issues facing teens. They are unusual for considering any size story, from 200 to 20K words. You might also be invited to join their writing critique group, made up of authors who have submitted and whom they find promising. Pay range is $5-$15 per story. Submission guidelines.
- Guardian Angel Kids. This is one of several kidlit markets for Christian writing. The story does not necessarily need an intensely Christian message, but it does need to fit with the theme for a particular month, as listed on their sub guidelines page. They prefer third-person POV and pay $.03 per word. Submission guidelines.
- Cast of Wonders. If you write YA science fiction or fantasy, you’ll want to check out Cast of Wonders, a podcast series that also posts the story texts on their site. They like a wondrous feel, and they want teen material, not children’s lit. Unusual in that they consider reprints. Pay is $.06 per word, less for reprints. Submission guidelines.
- Ember: A Journal of Luminous Things. The target reader here is 10-18 (in fact, kids in that age bracket may also submit). As you can tell from the subtitle, they have a taste for shimmering language. Poetry, fiction to 12K words, and creative nonfiction. Pays at least $20. Submission guidelines.
- Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide. Each year, Dreaming Robot Press opens a three-month submission period for their annual anthology of middle-grade science fiction. They pay pro rates, $.06 per word, and they love non-conformist stories. If you want to impress them, show them strong girl heroes, heroes of color, differently-abled heroes. Submission guidelines.