Mysteries and thrillers make up the second most popular genre of books after romance. The subgenres span from cozy to noir, hardboiled to police procedural, thriller to suspense, paranormal to spy, and more! If you write short form mysteries, you’re in luck. We’ve listed a number of paying markets that don’t charge submission fees. Happy submitting!
Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine
They are interested in nearly every kind of mystery: stories of detection of the classic kind, police procedurals, private eye tales, suspense, courtroom dramas, stories of espionage, and so on. They ask only that the story be about a crime (or the threat or fear of one). They sometimes accept ghost stories or supernatural tales, but those also should involve a crime.
Note: “We are looking for stories that are fresh, well told, and absorbing, and have not been previously published elsewhere. They should be entirely fiction: Please do not send us stories based on actual crimes, for instance, or other real-life events.”
Length: up to 12,000 words.
Pay: 5 to 8 cents per word, sometimes higher for established authors.
Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine welcomes submissions from both new and established writers. They publish every kind of mystery short story: the psychological suspense tale, the deductive puzzle, the private eye case—the gamut of crime and detection from the realistic (including the policeman’s lot and stories of police procedure) to the more imaginative (including “locked rooms” and “impossible crimes”). They need hard-boiled stories as well as “cozies,” but they are not interested in explicit sex or violence. They do not want true detective or crime stories. With the exception of a regular book review column and a mystery crossword, EQMM publishes only fiction. They are especially happy to review first stories by authors who have never before published fiction professionally.
Length: 2,500 – 8,000 words.
Pay: 5 to 8 cents per word, sometimes higher for established authors.
Flash Bang Mysteries
They are seeking original mystery/suspense of all types (police procedural, private eye, amateur sleuth, cozies, hardboiled, etc.). Basically, if it involves a crime and it is within our guidelines, they would love to consider it. “We want stories that feature believable characters who speak naturally, realistic situations that bleed conflict, and surprise endings that stay with us long after we reach the final period.”
Length: flash fiction ONLY between 500 and 750 words.
Submit: email submissions/queries to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mystery Weekly Magazine
Mystery Weekly Magazine presents original short stories by the world’s best-known and emerging mystery writers. The stories they feature in our monthly issues span every imaginable subgenre, including cozy, police procedural, noir, whodunit, supernatural, hardboiled, humor, and historical mysteries. Evocative writing and a compelling story are the only certainty. Stories must be unpublished elsewhere.
Length: 2,500 – 7,500 words.
Pay: 1 cent per word.
Noir Nation: International Crime Fiction publishes crime fiction, nonfiction, and noir poetry in print and Kindle editions. Soon after its launch in 2011, Noir Nation became the globally recognized home of international crime fiction. Its content is often dark, sometimes creepy, and sometimes humorous but always at the service of the literary imagination as it explores the darker regions of human experience.
Length: fiction: 1,000 - 3,000 words; nonfiction: 2,000 - 3,000; poetry: 30 lines or less.
Pay: “Always. Not much. But always.”
Submit: https://vegawire.submittable.com/submit (reading periods vary)
Occult Detective Quarterly Magazine
Occult Detective Quarterly Magazine is devoted to those intrepid investigators who explore the weird, exotic and bizarre. These are the people who explore the darkness, both within and beyond, often to their own peril and the expense of their very lives and sanity. “We are eager to read stories featuring a diverse range of characters, cultures and periods. You may cheerfully pursue established Lovecraftian, Pulp or Dystopian themes, for example, but a fresh twist on the classics is always more likely to grab us. We do like stories with unusual protagonists, or with less common backgrounds, and we have an appetite for the pulp and modern weird tale as long as it fits the overall concept.”
Length: fiction: 3,000 – 6,000 words; nonfiction: 2,000 – 5,000 words.
Pay: Fiction: 1 cent per word, with a $50 cap; $25 per accepted reprint. Articles: 1 cent per word, $25 cap. Artwork: $15 - $40 per piece.
Submit: email: email@example.com (check their reading periods)
Over My Dead Body!
This magazine publishes a wide variety of mystery-related manuscripts, from cozy to hardboiled and everything in between. They don’t discriminate on the basis of content, subgenre, or author recognition.
Nonfiction: “We’re looking for mystery-related author interviews/ profiles and articles. Mystery-related travel pieces will also be considered. (For example: travel article about the Reichenbach Falls of Sherlock Holmes fame.) 500+ words.”
Fiction: “We want to see taut, absorbing, original work. Keep dialogue and narrative consistent with characterization (unless you’re using the discrepancy as a plot point). Don’t waste words, and don’t ignore facts to facilitate your plot. Most importantly, if you’re going to break the rules, do it well. 750 – 4,000 words.”
Pay: 1 cent per word for fiction; $10-$25 total for unsolicited nonfiction.
Submit: Query first: OMDB@att.net. Over My Dead Body, P.O. Box 1938, Auburn, Washington 98071-1938. Attn: Fiction Editor or Feature Editor, as appropriate.
Switchblade is a fiction print anthology featuring the hardboiled/noir genre, and nothing else. “We will consider noir/crime fiction ranging from the early twentieth century up to present day. Aside from that, we are a no limit hardboiled fiction journal—we publish the kind of stories no one else will consider.” They also accept poetry and artwork.
Length: fiction: 2,000 to 4,500 words.
The Dark City
The Dark City is dedicated to the love of story, and in particular, the “rough and tumble of the world of crime and violence.” They are fans of story that has roots in reality but they do consider humorous situations and characters to be part of reality. They hope to acquire stories that leave readers thinking about the characters and their dilemma.
Length: 1,000 to 7,500 words.
Submit: email your submission to: firstname.lastname@example.org (Put “Story Submission” in the email subject line.)
Tough is a crime fiction journal publishing short stories and self-contained novel excerpts of between 1500 words and 7500 words, and occasional book reviews and essays of 1500 words or fewer. They are particularly interested in stories with rural settings.
Length: fiction: 1,500 – 7,500 words.
Submit: http://www.toughcrime.com/p/submissions_54.html (check reading periods)
They accept primarily mystery, weird tales, suspense and horror. If you are not sure what category your story falls into feel free to send it anyway. While they prefer original stories, on a limited basis they will accept previously published work. If you are submitting a story that has been published please provide them with where and when it was featured. They are also open to blog style editorials and articles about the craft of writing or pertaining to the accepted genres.
Length: 1,500 – 5,000words.
Pay: fiction: 1 cent per word up to $50; editorials and articles: $15; $25 for reprints.
Submit: http://www.whoknocks.net/guidelines (check reading periods); email: email@example.com
Happy submitting and good luck!