If you are a horror writer looking to get paid for your spine-tingling short stories, you’ve come to the right place. This article will discuss various magazines currently accepting horror short story submissions and offer significant payment for accepted pieces.
Despite numerous protests to the contrary, there are many excellent locations to submit horror short tales these days. Professionally paying science fiction markets are at the top of the list, followed by fantasy and horror markets.
There are many alternatives, especially if you broaden your search to include semi-pro rates, one-off anthologies, and open forums.
Short stories have piqued my interest as a fun way to earn income.
So, if you want to be the next Crown Prince of Dread, your wish is still possible! And understanding how to write a horror story is the first step.
Then there’s figuring out which magazines pay well for horror short stories and where to submit them.
Table of contents
- What Is A Horror Story?
- How Do You Write An Horror Short Story?
- Horror Short Story Submissions
- List Of Magazines That Pay Heavily For The Stories
What Is A Horror Story?
According to Britannica, a Horror story is a story that focuses on creating a feeling of fear. Such tales are of ancient origin and form a substantial part of folk literature.
They can feature supernatural elements such as ghosts, witches, or vampires or address more realistic psychological fears.
How Do You Write An Horror Short Story?
In our era of highly commercialized crime and thriller novels, you must write a captivating short horror novel that horror fans will love reading. However, here are tips on how to write a short horror story.
#1. Tap into common fears
The most important part of any horror story is naturally its fear factor. People don’t read horror for easy entertainment; they read it to be titillated and frightened.
So, here are a few elements you can use to scare the pants off your reader seriously.
Fears with a logical or biological basis are among the most powerful in horror. Things like darkness, heights, snakes, and spiders are just a few of the most frequent instinctive phobias. As a result, they’re usually highly good at scaring readers.
Monsters and supernatural entities
This one goes beyond logic and into the realm of the “uncanny,” as Sigmund Freud put it. We all know vampires, werewolves, and ghosts don’t exist, but it doesn’t stop them from terrifying us.
This is one of the most common fears in horror, but if you choose to write in this genre, your story must be believable.
Another way to scare people is to use societal tensions, a common approach in horror films. Get Out tackles the idea of underlying racism in modern America, and The Babadook examines mental health, two films that have been out recently.
However, like in Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery, societal tensions can readily be embodied in the pages of horror fiction.
#2. Strike the right atmosphere
What type of horror you intend to create will determine the “right atmosphere” for your narrative. The subgenre will also influence the tone and atmosphere of your work.
- Thriller horror brings psychological fear, often occurring near the beginning of horror stories before much has happened.
- Gross-out horror involves vivid descriptions of spurting blood, hacked-up flesh, and gouged-out organs to shock the reader; think gore movies of the 70s
- Classic horror refers to the Gothic (or Southern Gothic) genre, with spooky settings and bone-chilling characters like those of Dracula and Frankenstein.
- Terror provokes a feeling of all-pervasive dread, which can either serve as the climax of your story or be sustained throughout.
Subgenres can also be combined, especially as your novel progresses. You might start with an exciting psychological horror, then progress to gothic undertones before ending in complete fear.
Whatever form of horror you’re working with should be terrifying for your reader – and terrifying for you.
#3. Make the stakes obvious
You must make readers aware of the stakes for them to be fully enthralled by your short horror story.
Establish your character(s)’ major problem or motivation and what they stand to lose if they don’t solve it. The following are examples of stakes and motivations:
Survival: In any horror story, the protagonist’s most basic goal is survival. However, there are certain complexities to that purpose.
Maybe their goal isn’t only to stay alive and defeat their homicidal foe.
Protecting loved ones: The higher the stakes, the more individuals the protagonist must protect. Many terrifying stories end with the danger of death, not of the protagonist, but of one or more of their loved ones.
Cracking mysteries: Some horror stories are about unearthing past terrors rather than escaping dangers in the present.
This is especially true in subgenres like cosmic horror, which deals with cosmic riddles, frequently involving ancient history.
You can always combine different stakes, just like you can with atmosphere.
When it comes to horror, especially horror fiction, the most important thing to remember is that simple stakes have the most impact.
#4. Ponder On your point of view (POV) Carefully
Your reader should sense a kinship with your main character, such that when the stakes are high, they feel their own heart start to beat faster.
This can be achieved by either a first-person or third-person constrained point of view. (Avoid third-person omniscient when writing horror since it can alienate your reader and reduce their investment in the story.)
When it comes to beating hearts, look no further than The Tell-Tale Heart for a wonderful example of first-person horror storytelling.
The first-person point of view is great for catching your reader immediately and keeping them guessing throughout your story.
It could be too dramatic for lengthier, more complicated pieces, and it might be tough to pull off if you’re trying to hide something from your audience.
Furthermore, keep first-person narration in the present tense if you employ first-person narration.
#5. To twist or not to twist?
Plot twists are thrilling and memorable and aid in resolving earlier ambiguity by revealing the truth and alleviating tension.
They are, however, famously tough to come up with and even more difficult to execute – you must gently hint at a twist while ensuring it isn’t too predictable or clichéd.
#6. Don’t overlook the fundamentals.
According to Demchick, “a horror novel, like any fiction, is about a character or characters seeking to attain a goal based on their particular interests and needs.” “If you let concept take precedence over character, you’ll lose much of what makes horror compelling.”
So, you must know basic storytelling strategies when writing and avoid getting carried away with the frightening drama. Before you begin, consider the following questions regarding your characters and plot:
- What fear or struggle does your protagonist have to face?
- What decision did they make to place them in this predicament?
- How, if at all, will they defeat or elude their adversary?
- What are the long-term consequences of their actions?
This will assist you in creating a basic plot for your horror novel, which you can embellish to add atmosphere and suspense.
Also, see: 15 Best Love Story Books in the World | 2023
#7. Search for something new
To make your narrative stand out from the crowd, consider overused horror trends and make sure it isn’t “been there, done that.” After all of the Twilight, Vampire Diaries, and True Blood excitement, the “vampire romance” plot is a dead horse with no one left to beat it.
That isn’t to say you can’t include parts of popular culture in your writing. All you have to do now is put your unique spin on it and make it your own!
Horror Short Story Submissions
If you are in search of where places for your horror short story submission, then this is it. But before I further list them, here is something to read.
Standard disclosures apply: I do not endorse these markets or their business personally. I’ve submitted to a few, but not all of them.
You must still conduct due diligence to determine whether you like the publications and/or are comfortable with the terms of the agreement.
I also can’t guarantee that the facts will remain accurate; contributor guidelines, submission windows, and markets change frequently. So, before submitting your work, examine their websites for details.
However, here are publishers for your horror short story submissions.
- Apex Magazine
- Clarkesworld Magazine
- Horror Addicts
- The Dark Magazine
- Clarkesworld Magazine
- WordFire Press
- Anathema Magazine
- Madness Heart Press
- Black Static
- Morpheus Tales
- Dark Helix Press
- The Dark Sire
Also, you can check this: How Much Do Journalists Make | Full Job Description
List Of Magazines That Pay Heavily For The Stories
Short stories, in particular, have attracted much attention as a fun way to earn money. It’s easy to scribble the first draft—especially if you’re caffeinated and following a plan—and a narrative can be revised and polished in under a week if you concentrate.
However, some magazines pay good money for Horror short stories.
Lamplight is a quarterly newspaper looking for dark stories to publish. They aren’t overly restrictive regarding what you can and can’t write. Still, they do not allow horror cliches like vampires, zombies, werewolves, serial murderers, hitmen, and cannibals.
They prefer dark, literary stories, but they prefer the spooky, strange, and unsettling.” Also, It’s worth looking at this free PDF copy to see what kind of work they’ve done in the past.
- Original fiction is 3 cents a word with a maximum payment of $150
- Reprints are 1 cent a word
- 15 March—15 May
- 15 September—15 November
PseudoPod is a fictitious audio magazine. They transform your written stories into spoken words.
They don’t get hung up on genre designations and don’t follow any rules about what kind of stuff can be included in their stories… What matters most is that your tales are bleak and gripping.
Furthermore, because of the audio format, they aren’t picky about admitting work already published elsewhere. They’re also more accepting of violent and sexy horror than most periodicals.
- 8 cents a word for original fiction
- $100 flat rate for short story reprints
- $20 flat rate for flash fiction reprints (stories below 1500 words)
The one disadvantage of PseudoPod is that submission windows are quite small, so you must be lightning-fast to be considered.
- 15 October—2 November for general submissions
- 10—31 August for their Flash Fiction Contest
#3. Boneyard Soup
Boneyard Soup is unique in that it includes two non-fiction articles in each edition to create a “wonder cabinet of sorts.”
They don’t provide specific content guidelines, but they require a word count between 2,000 and 6,000, and they urge you to avoid extreme violence or sexual themes.
“Gothic in the traditional sense. A pulpy horror film with the 80s feel. Body horror. Stories about ghosts. Horror comedy. If your story falls under the horror or dark fantasy genres, don’t hesitate to submit it.”
In addition, Reprints are accepted at Boneyard Soup, but you must note this when submitting.
- 5 cents per word for original fiction up to 6000 words
- 1 cent per word up to 6000 words for reprints
- 5 cents per word up to 3000 words for non-fiction
Boneyard Soup accepts submissions all year, but as a tiny journal, they advise that it may take up to a month for them to respond.
I hope this article has highlighted horror short stories and how to go about them. Also, some publishers for your horror short story submissions.
FAQs on horror short story submissions
Step 1: Find the perfect publication to send your story to. …
Step 2: Submit your story in the right format. …
Step 3: Include a brief cover letter and author bio with your story submission. …
Step 4: Submit your short story and track your submission. …
3 thoughts on “How to Submit a Short Story”
The world’s shortest horror story was originally published in 1948; it was written by Frederic Brown and consisted of two sentences. It reads: “The last man on Earth sat alone in a room.