Plenty. More than ever. The Scalzi-initiated genre short-story pay discussion got me thinking of this list I made a few months ago. Of course there are even more now, like Lightspeed and Tor.com. And some that pay almost as well as pro (and always run pro-level work) like Weird Tales and the EscapePod gang. Some of these take only fantasy, some only sf, or horror some only stories under 4000 words, some are closed part of the year, but you get the idea. There were about half this many four years ago. All of these read unsolicited work from anyone. The top three respond in about a WEEK each. There's really no reason not to make a list like this for yourself, and start as near the top of this list as individual guidelines allow. I hope all this seems obvious, but I've recently been made aware that this might not be the case. A lot of these take electronic submissions, there is not even the excuse of "wasted postage" to fall back on any more. You work hard on your stories; at least give them a chance in that marketplace. You're too busy writing new stuff to worry about how long it will take to cycle a story through a dozen or two dozen paying markets. Just make your list: put high paying, fast responding, free (meaning no postage, no printing of a hard copy, costs) markets that publish your genre at the top. Keep each story in the mail at all times, even if it means skipping a market that, say, is closed for the next two weeks, or doesn't let you submit two stories at a time.
After this, submit to any markets you want to, or trunk the story if you want to, there are plenty of differing opinions on that, (I would never be one to slag on a market because of its pay rate — a quick look at my bibliography should illustrate that) but the other stuff I'm saying here is pretty much standard advice. In cover letters, don't list a credit for no better reason than that you have a credit. It's usually safe to list pro or near-pro credit if you have two or three. Regarding what to put in cover letters: "when in doubt, leave it out," is not a bad rule.
But I think if you just make your list, and stick to your list, it will allow your story to slip past many episodes of self-doubt. You don't want to have to think about where to send you story next, and how disappointing your last rejection is. Before the days of common electronic submissions, I always, always, had the manila envelope addressed and the cover letter written to the next market for each story BEFORE it came back. It's fun tearing those up when you finally make a sale. In fact, right now, I have two draft emails in my gmail, both with cover letters written and documents attached. As soon as those stories come back I am ready to go. My fastest turnaround after a rejection is eleven minutes, and I have prepped these two so that I can beat that.
Making a list and following it top to bottom is the most efficient way to manage this time-consuming task. You want to be writing new stuff, better stuff, (you are trying always, first and foremost, to get better, right?) and not thinking about the fate of your finished stories.
|Intergalactic Medicine Show|
|Realms of Fantasy|
|FUTURISMIC (well, $200 flat fee so equals pro rate for a story under 5k)|
Beneath Ceaseless Skies
All these were easily found via Duotrope. I encourage everyone to use and also report back to Duotrope. I find their stats on things like real response time on submissions (and the very valuable stats on which markets kinda forget to respond submissions a lot of the time) invaluable, and they'd be even better if more people used them. It's a site I send donations to as often as I can. It's been a huge help to me. But an account is free.