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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.
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.