Showing posts with label Submissions. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Submissions. Show all posts

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

9 Slush Pile Mistakes: A Guest Post by 2 Slush Readers

Welcome to Adam Shaftoe (slush reader for Daily Science Fiction) and Patrick Icasas (slush reader for Flash Fiction Online). I've known Adam for a few years now thanks to the Toronto-area convention scene and I very much admire his reviewing skills. Read his blog, people! 

I met Patrick only recently via my LAB•B work, and it turned out we had lots of interests in common, and I even helped him get a very well-known comic book writer on his new blog, How to Suck Less. Woo!

In any case, Patrick and Adam work hard at what they do, and they have some wisdom to share with you short fiction writers. Read and learn, my friends. Read and learn. --Beverly

Short fiction can be an unfair game. Though talent, hard work, and dedication can get a person pretty far as a writer, the truth is that sometimes a story will take longer than it should to sell. The simple explanation is that now, more than ever, writing is about the numbers. More people are writing today - which is great - compared to when the pulps turned the submission process into a de facto routine. Alas, the number of semi-pro and pro-paying markets hasn't grown in proportion to the influx of submissions.

We each handle dozens of submissions a month. Even if we restrict ourselves to flash pieces of a maximum of 1000 words each, that's sizable chunk of a full length novel every two weeks. There's a reason it's called a slush pile. That's a lot of stories to read through--even for a team of editors--and we have to be efficient in sorting the middling from the amazing. That means looking for reasons to reject the middling sort as quickly as we can.


Nothing we are going to say in this piece guarantees a sale. We're out to level the playing field, and explain some of the reasons why a story might get read and rejected within thirty seconds. You, gentle reader, can avoid every pitfall that we list and still lament an objectively good piece of fiction being rejected over and over. In those cases, all we can tell you is to keep at it. If you're a good writer then you have the capacity for greatness, and greatness is what sells.

#1 - Follow the damn guidelines

Guidelines are simultaneously an idiot test and a test of quality akin to the “no brown M&M” rule. When a submission fails to follow seemingly arbitrary rules like 12 pt, Century Gothic with 1” margins, using Canadian/British spelling wherever possible, it tells a submissions editor that there are almost certainly other issues in the writing, thus there's no point in offering any benefit of the doubt when the first paragraph contains a glaring typo or a shift in voice.

#2 - Copy and paste: you're doing it wrong

Many publishers are using back-end software that, in theory, makes lives easier for submissions editors and writers alike i.e. fill out the boxes, copy and paste your story, wait for the good or bad news. All too often people copy and paste from their word processing program of choice (Microsoft Word is notorious for this) without using something like Notepad to strip away character codes and embedded formatting.

Weird formatting puts submissions editors in a sour mood. Could you imagine reading

five thousand words of text that

<span> were formatted like <span> this?

#3 -  Longer probably isn't better

If H.P. Lovecraft, a notoriously lugubrious author, showed up in the slush pile today, I would reject him out of hand. It doesn't matter who you are, how much you've written. If you're SWFA, or if you're John Scalzi, himself, if you're going to make us read 5,000 words, then it best be a 5,000 word story. World building out of the gate, excessive internal history, descriptions of food, clothing, horses, the colour of the sky are almost always filler. Filler gets rejected.

#4 - Don't imagine we haven't seen it before

Submissions editors read a lot of fiction. We're voracious readers, and almost always writers, ourselves. Remixing some existing ideas into a new story is well and good, but if an editor can read the DNA of your story in the first 10% of the story then we're probably going to write it off as derivative and move on to something else.  This also includes using stereotypical greek names for starships, planets, and the like. Stretch into some other religious/mythological pantheons.

#5 - Stop starting at the start

In medias res is a writer's best friend; starting a story with a person waking up and pondering on the meaning of a dream is not.Neither is starting at the creation of the world or the birth of a child.

#6  - Don't be entitled

You may think you're God's Gift to the Craft, but after reading your story (or even your cover letter) we can most definitely say that you're not. Having a closed and confrontational attitude will keep you from growing as a writer, and make it hard for editors to want to give you a second chance.

#7 - Know the story you're writing

I've read quite a few stories that start out strong in one genre (like an introspective sci-fi narrative), only to turn sharply midway through into something totally different, like horror or humor. Most of the time, this is a symptom of a badly done “twist” ending. Speaking of twist endings...

#8 - Forcing a twist

Twist endings are best used sparingly. In fact, many so-called “clever” twists are highly overdone (e.g. IT WAS ALL A DREAM) and ruin the story. (There's a reason M. Night Shyamalan is a one-trick pony) A twist should make sense within the context of the story, so that it's surprising yet inevitable.

#9 - Submitting the same story over and over

What do you do when your story is rejected? Do you shrug and immediately fire it off to the next editor? Or do you take a step back and see what's wrong with it? Many publications offer personalized rejections to stories that show promise, but aren't quite there yet. A good writer listens and, in the process, improves. A bad writer dismisses it out of hand and stagnates. Which one are you?

We're not out to hurt anybody's feelings. We work to find and publish the best stories that people will enjoy reading. If your writing doesn't happen to make it through this time, then learn from the experience and try again.

Patrick Icasas is a slush reader for Flash Fiction Online, a pro-paying market for flash fiction of any genre. Patrick supports his slush reading and creative writing habit by blogging for companies on a freelance basis. He's also been known to blog for himself from time to time about How to Suck Less.

Adam Shaftoe-Durrant is a critic, writer, and podcaster. He also reads slush for Daily Science Fiction. He holds a Master of Arts degree in History from the University of Western Ontario, and worked as a Teaching Assistant at Brock University for seven years. His essays and reviews have previously appeared in On-Spec Magazine, Jamais Vu - The Journal of the Strange Among the Familiar, and on He lives in St. Catharines, Ontario with his fiancée Rebecca and their cats. During the day he works as an labour market researcher for a local NGO. Adam blogs and podcasts about all things genre at

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Calls for Submission #7

This week Selene MacLeod once again brings us the occasional column Calls for Submission (CfS). You can see all of the CfS columns here. Don't forget to joint Selene's Facebook groups 
Finally, you should sign up to receive my news and columns by emailmake sure you don't miss useful stuff in the social media shuffle!

Thanks for reading. - Beverly

I hope everyone is having a wonderful summer. It's hard to believe that school starts in just a few weeks. As the weather cools down, hopefully you've got some writing projects on the go. Here's a list of markets accepting submissions for what we call “early autumn.”

Pro-paying Markets accepting submissions:

Eldritch Press. Looking for (post-apocalyptic) Steampunk Horror up to 20,000 words. Pays $0.08 per word. Read guidelines carefully, as they're looking for world-building as well as great stories. No cyberpunk or sci-fi, please. No deadline listed.

Fantastic Stories of the Imagination. No deadlines, no word counts listed. Partial to magical realism and hard sci-fi. Pays $0.15 per word (yes, I had to read that twice). Also pays $25 for reprints.

Cohesion Press. Blurring the Lines. Looking for horror stories that “blur the lines” between fact and fiction. Max 5000 words, deadline October 31. Pays AUS $0.08 per word.

This Patchwork Flesh. Looking for QUILTBAG horror stories, stories about the “underrepresented,” nightmares. Pays $0.05 per word, deadline August 31. Open to Canadian authors.

Pithy Pages for Erudite Readers. No deadline listed. Accepts flash up to 1000 words, short fiction up to 5000 words, and poetry. All genres. Pays $0.05 per word.

GrimDark Magazine. Looking for grim, dark stories with a medieval fantasy or sci-fi setting. Pays $0.06 per word, must be under 4k. This is a magazine, so no deadline listed.

An Alphabet of Embers. Looking for flash fiction 500-1400 words. Pays $0.06 per word. Not looking for straight “genre” fiction but interested in lyrical, magical realism, fantasy/fairy tale. Deadline September 30.

CONTEST: Minotaur Books First Crime Novel Competition. Open to any writer aged 18 or older who has not had a novel published. Best first crime novel (minimum 40,000 words). Pays $10,000 against publishing royalties. Deadline December 15, 2014. Note: There appears to be a second novel competition, deadline October 15, for a “Malice Domestic” themed crime novel.

Semi-pro Markets accepting submissions:

Ticonderoga Publications Bloodlines anthology. Looking for “dark urban fantasy” about creatures who need blood to live (NOT traditional vampire stories).

Wolf WillowPress. Looking for literary flash (to 1000 words), short stories 1500-7k, but OK with “other genres,” so magical realism or light spec-fic would also work. Deadline for fall edition (“Crossroads” theme) is August 31. Winter 2015 (“Star-Crossed Lovers”) deadline November 30.

Tacitus Publishing. It's a Grimm Life. Looking for dark, modern re-tellings of Grimm tales. Pays $0.01 per word. Deadline August 31.

Savage Beasts anthology. Looking for horror stories inspired by music (no lyrics due to copyright restrictions, please!). 3k-10k. Pays $0.02 per word. Deadline September 5.

Golden Fleece Press. Wee Tales Volume 1. Looking for dark, weird fiction 600-2k words, aimed at children (age 7-12). Pays $50. No deadline listed, but looking for an October release, so probably early September. Also looking for artwork, puzzles, and poetry.

Welcome to the Future Anthology. Pays $100 for stories 2k-8k, $25 for flash 250-500 words. Deadline September 15.

Emby Press. The Ghost Papers. Looking for scary ghost stories up to 8k and dark poetry. Pays $25 and an e-copy, deadline September 1.

Sawney Hatton Mega Thump Anthology 2. Looking for “sex” themed sci-fi/horror stories (think Videodrome), 1000-15k words. Pays $20 and a copy. Deadline August 31.

Reel Dark: Twisted Fantasies Projected on the Flickering Page. Looking for stories of movie horror in the “real world.” Pays $25 and a contributor copy for non-members. Pro rates for full members of the HWA/SFWA. Max 3500 words, deadline November 1.

Shooter Literary Magazine. Looking for literary fiction on the theme of “Pulling the Trigger.” (can be literal or metaphor), 2k-8k. Pays 30 (pounds UK) for fiction, $10 (pounds) for poetry. Deadline October 15.

Prose-N-Cons Mystery Magazine. Looking for mystery/crime stories. No deadlines listed. Pay rates depend on length. 100 words=$10. Flash to 1k = $30, short stories 2k-3k - $50. Also accepts poetry, non-fiction, and artwork.

Magical. Looking for "adult fairy tales" (no erotica), 500-3000 words. Deadline September 1. Best story receives $150 and two runners-up will receive $25. Others receive a contributor copy.

Token, Royalty, and Non-Paying Markets

GHOSTS Anthology. Looking for ghost stories 2k-5k words, deadline September 28. Pays $10 via PayPal.

The Riding Light Review. Looking for Halloween/Horror stories 1000-3000 words and poetry for their October issue. No deadline listed, but Duotrope lists September 1. Pays a copy (one e-copy, one print).

Fossil Lake. Looking for dark, transgressive, surreal horror stories. Deadline September 30. Pays a token $5 for poetry/flash and $10 for short stories.

Garden Gnome Publications Biblical Legends series. Looking for speculative flash (to 1500 words, pays $3) and short stories (1500-10k, pays $7). Upcoming themes: Deluge (Flood stories) deadline August 23, 2014 and Land of Nod (where Cain went after he was banished), deadline November 23.

Beyond the Nightlight. Looking for “child centric” horror stories (think Stephen King's IT and Neil Gaiman's Coraline). 500-13k words, pays $15 and a contributor's copy. Deadline October 13.

Shine Your Darkness. Quarterly e-zine (non-paying), with a noir/pulp theme. First issue's theme will be “First Kills.”

Pulp Modern. Looking for crime, dark fiction, and horror stories up to 5000 words. Next theme is “drugs,” deadline October 1. Non-paying market.

Give: An Anthology of Anatomical Entries Looking for horror stories about organ donors, 500-2500 words. Deadline September 30, pays $10 and a copy.

Stay Cool: A Tribute to Elmore Leonard. Looking for stories 1000-10k words. Deadline September 30. Shared Royalties.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Calls for Submission #6 Plus Sources

This week Selene MacLeod once again brings us the occasional column Calls for Submission (CfS). You can see all of the CfS columns here. Don't forget to joint Selene's Facebook groups 
Finally, you should sign up to receive my news and columns by emailmake sure you don't miss useful stuff in the social media shuffle!

Now here's Selene with various calls, some with deadlines today and tomorrow! I bolded deadlines in the next week to make it easier to skim for them! - Beverly

This month, I'm going to let you in on my secrets. Many of these posts can be found in one or more of the groups on Facebook, but in case you were wondering where I found them, here you go. The thing to remember is, most of the work is done for you if you look here and in the groups. If you're looking at the source pages, there is a lot more stuff to scroll through. You will also find a lot more dead links, sneaky vanity publishers, and high fees. –Always the most comprehensive source for open markets, Duotrope has come under fire for charging user fees. The fee is reasonable, though, for $50 a year (up front) or $5 a month (pay as you go).

The Submission Grinder – Very similar to Duotrope, The Grinder is a searchable database. In some ways, there are more markets to choose from here, but it's not as up to date as Duotrope. – This is a page with market listings, linked by rate of pay, with a focus on speculative fiction.

Horror Tree – A blog devoted to horror markets. – Lists classifieds, contests, and more. Updated weekly.

CRWOPPS – A Yahoo group, updated almost every day. There's a lot to sort through here, as many markets are non-paying and most of the others charge fees. CRWOPPS also lists academic job postings in the U.S. – This one's only updated about once a month, but it's the most useful as only paying markets are listed.

Creative Genius – Lists both Creative Writing fellowships and a huge list of Poetry contests with no entry fees. Most of the fellowship deadlines have passed for 2014, but if you're a graduate student, it's a good thing to keep in mind in the future. – More poetry contests. Free to subscribe, but it does require a login. – A forum with a large list of markets especially contests. Some have fees, some don't. –Canadian site with writing contests.

Aerogramme Writers Studio – Huge list of markets. Requires some surfing. Some of the deadlines have passed, but again, it's a worthy resource for future contests and markets. –Lots of publications (both fiction and non-fiction) by category.

E-zines: –A huge list of e-zines that accept poetry, but I haven't checked all the links (there are tons here!) –has a list of classifieds

Poets & Writers –has ton of listings if you click on the tabs : Jobs, Classifieds, Small press, etc. –Excellent article by Richard Thomas. LitReactor is a great site for writing courses and discussion.

Erika Dreifus is a regular contributor to the Open Call: Poetry/Fiction/Art group. She posts a weekly blog called Monday Markets.

So, as you can see, if you're willing to put in the research, there are lots of publishing opportunities for writers looking to build a portfolio. However the benefit to joining the Facebook groups is that some of the leg work is done for you! Or, you know, you could just keep reading.

Current open calls for submissions

Pro Markets

Apex Magazine is still open for submissions through May 31, then they'll be going on hiatus until September. Pays $0.05 per word.

Shock Totem is also open until May 31. Pays $0.05 per word.

Recommended Reading. Looking for “top quality literary stories” 2k-10k words. Pays $300 per story. There is no restriction on genre, so magical realism and maybe soft sci-fi might work. Deadline June 1.

Book Smugglers. Looking for Subversive Fairy Tale re-tellings (Middle Grade and YA). Deadline July 31, to publish 3x per year. Pays $0.05 per word – Pays $10 for 100 word stories based on a nightmare. Deadline July 1.

Exile Canadian Noir. Deadline July 1. 2k-10k, pays $0.05 per word.

The Journal of Unlikely Entomology. Looking for “bug” stories. Deadline August 1.

Semi-Pro Markets

Sekhmet Press. Wrapped in Black: 13 Tales of Witches and the Occult. Pays $0.01 per word, 2500-5000 words. Deadline June 8.
Dead Harvest. Looking for dark fiction with an “autumn/harvest” theme. Deadline May 31. Pays $25 and a contributor's copy.

Fictionvale Issue Five. Deadline June 15. Looking for Mystery and Fantasy mash-ups. Pays $0.02 per word, max 5000 words.

Postscripts to Darkness. Looking for short fiction 1500-4500 words. “Weird fiction” covers it (read guidelines carefully). Deadline May 31. Pays $0.01 per word.

Belladonna Publishing. Strange Little Girls Anthology. Deadline June 15, pays $120 2k-10k words.

Bizarro Pulp Press Surreal Worlds anthology. Looking for bizarro stories. Pays up to $50 and a paperback copy. Max 10,000 words. Deadline June 1.

It's a Grimm Life. Looking for re-imagined fairy tales. Pays $0.01 per word. Deadline August 31.

Black Denim Literary. Looking for literary sci-fi, max 7500 words, pays $0.01 per word.

Triptych Tales. Pays $100 a story. No deadline listed. 2-6k.

Spellbound Literary Productions. Looking for Middle Grade (age 8-12) stories about magical cats. Pays 2.5 cents per word up to 2500 words. Deadline June 30.

Eye to the Telescope. Looking for Sci-fi poetry. Pays $0.03 per word. Deadline June 15.

Pernicious Invaders. Looking for stories about germs and bugs, 3k-8k. Deadline July 31. Pays $25 and a contributor's copy.

LampLight Volume 3. Looking for flash and short stories 1k-7k. Pays $50 for flash, $150 for short stories. Horror, noir, dark fantasy. Deadline July 15.

Emby Press. Reconstructing the Monster. 2000-8000 words. Looking for takes on classic horror movie monsters. Deadline July 15. Pays $25 and an e-copy.

Daylight Dims. Deadline June 30. Pays $0.01 per word, max 10,000 words. Looking for “unique, strange, and compelling horror fiction.”

Greenwoman Publishing. Fifty Shades of Green. Looking for gardening-themed erotica stories up to 6000 words. Pays $100 ($50 for reprints). Deadline June 15.

FriGG. Publishes twice a year, accepts submissions year round. Pays $50 via PayPal. Looking for fiction and poetry.

Elektrik Milk Bath. Motorcycle anthology still open, also looking for Day of the Dead stories. Deadline June 15. Pays $30, 1k-5k.

Token and Non-Paying Markets

Beach Walk Press. Sex, Love, and Aliens (sci-fi oriented Romance), 15k-20k words. Deadline June 1, pays token $50 advance.

Indie Authors Press. Looking for cyberpunk stories, 2k-10k, token payment $10. Open until filled. Also looking for sci-fi novels.

Dead Guns Press. Looking for hardboiled crime, noir, thriller, horror, and apocalyptic fiction. E-zine is non-paying. Anthologies pay a contributor's copy, and they have a royalty-paying “Showcase Special” for novellas.!our_story/c18bc

The Literary Hatchet. Looking for dark, literary short fiction and poetry, 500-3000 words. Deadline July 1, pays $15.

Dialogual. Publishes stories (max 350 words) of dialogue only. No deadlines, publishes 2-4 times per month on Thursdays.!sub/cqh1

Dark House Books. Anthology of Cozy Noir. 500-7500 words, deadline June 30. Pays royalties.

Forgotten Places: Best of the Horror Society. Note: You must be a member of the Horror Society to submit. 3k-7500 words, deadline June 13. Pays a contributor's copy.

April Moon Books. Stomping Grounds. Looking for stories about giant monsters, 2500-6000 words. Deadline August 31. Pays a contributor's copy. There will also be an editor's award for the best story.!stomping-grounds-submission-guide/cq5x

Knightwatch Press. Killer Bees from Outer Space. Pays Royalties.

Silver Birch Press. Looking for “literary” stories and poetry inspired by The Great Gatsby. Deadline September 1, max 2000 words. Pays a contributor's copy.


Christopher Hewitt Literary Award. $50 prize, no entry fee. Looking for literary entries in each of four categories: Poetry, Fiction, Creative Non-fiction, and Drama. Deadline June 15. Must be related to HIV/AIDS. Max 1200 words.

Tony Hillerman Mystery Writers Competition. Deadline June 1. First novel competition (only unpublished novelists may enter). Looking for novel-length (60,000 words) fiction (crime/thriller, focused on a solution) set in the Southwestern United States. First prize is $10,000 and publication.!about1/c20ee

IST (Issues in Science and Technology) science fiction story contest. Submit a precis of 250 words by June 1. Stories (2500-5000 words) will be due later. Prize is $1500.

Dinopunk Death Match. Winner gets $10 and podcast. Max 1000 words, deadline June 6.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Calls for Submission #5

This week Selene MacLeod once again brings us the occasional column Calls for Submission (CfS). You can see all of the CfS columns here. Don't forget to joint Selene's Facebook groups 
Finally, you should sign up to receive my news and columns by email; make sure you don't miss useful stuff in the social media shuffle!

Now here's Selene with various calls, some with quickly-approaching deadlines! - Beverly

Greetings! I hope everyone is staying warm and looking forward to spring. I know I am!

This time around, there seems to be a proliferation of noir and crime calls, or maybe I'm just sensitive to it. So in honour, I'd like to direct you to the current open calls for crime/thriller/mystery fiction. I'm taking my first STAB (see what I did there?) at it myself, and it's not easy.

Markets that Accept Flash Fiction: 

Pro rate-paying markets currently accepting submissions:

Semi-pro markets currently accepting submissions:

  • Primeval: A Journal of the Uncanny seeks essays and creative nonfiction (up to 5K words) related to the following: literature, music, film, television, infamous locations, and diabolical esoterica. Contributors are paid $50 and two copies. Open until filled. Send all submissions to
  • Postscripts to Darkness has re-opened for fiction submissions for our planned 6th volume, scheduled for release in Fall 2014! "We have revised our submission guidelines somewhat, so please read them carefully if you are thinking of sending your stories for our consideration." We pay one cent/word (Canadian, minimum payment $25) for fiction between 1500 and 4500 words.
  • Like a Haunted Trail: Erotic Tales of the Weird Wild West. Deadline March 15, looking for erotica 3k-6k words. Pays $25.
  • The 2014 issue of The Martian Wave is still looking for submissions. All stories must centre around the exploration and colonization of space. Payment is 1/2 cent per word. Send your submissions ASAP.
  • Flapperhose. Looking for flash/short fiction up to 5,000 words (pays $0.01 per word) and poetry (2.5 cents per word). "Surreal, shadowy, sensual, satirical." Not quite sure what that means. Quarterly, so the next deadline isn't listed.
  • Weird Bard Press. Torn Pages anthology. Looking for fiction about social upheaval, 1000-5000 words. This call is extremely vague, so I assume they'll know what they want when they see it. No vampires, zombies, werewolves, or erotica. They want stories with queer/disabled/POC/"Other" characters. Political but not soapbox. Pays $0.02 per word. Open March 1-May 31 2014.

Token, royalty, and non-paying markets currently accepting submissions:


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Calls for Submission #4

Thanks, as ever, to Selene MacLeod who brings us the occasional column Calls for Submission (CfS). You can see all of the CfS columns here. Don't forget you can check out Selene's Facebook groups 

Finally, don't forget to sign up to receive my news and columns by email; make sure you don't miss useful stuff in the social media shuffle!

Enough of me. You're here for Selene. Enjoy! - Beverly

I hope everyone is staying warm and enjoying Women in Horror Month. Be sure to check out some of the great blogs showcasing women's horror writing. 

Because February is a month of blahs punctuated by hearts and chocolate (if you like that sort of thing), and because I've got the attention span of a gnat these days (hello SAD), I'd like to focus on the art of short-short fiction: flash and its various incarnates.

Markets that Accept Flash Fiction: 
Pro Paying Markets Open for Submissions:
Token-Paying and Royalty Markets: