Processes and preferences

Our submissions window for short fiction is December 14th 2020 to January 14th 2021. We are looking for flash fiction between 250-750 words and short stories between 2,500-8,000 words. These word counts have changed since our last submissions round to reflect our current preferences. We pay £0.01 per word for first World rights (electrionic and print) and a 180 day exclusivity. Simultaneous submissions are fine but no multiples or reprints. Submit to in Standard Manuscript Format. either single or double spaced. Subject line: SUBMISSION – story name – your surname.

We will reopen for novels and novellas in 2021 (date to follow). When we do, we will only want work between 50-100,000 words, will publish in print and electronically and pay on a royalties-only basis (competitive rates).

We are a speculative and literary fiction magazine. Interpret that as you will when deciding what to submit, but bear in mind that we are unlikely to publish genre fiction without a speculative element (science fiction, fantasy or horror).

If you’re going to be submitting work to us, here are a few things you may want to bear in mind. We’ll be updating this list regularly, so check for our latest – we may suddenly have an urge for zombie romances (kidding – hell hasn’t frozen over yet).

  • we’ve seen many things many times so be original.
  • we’re picky buyers.
  • we can tell if you know your craft – don’t send us your first draft and make sure you’ve covered the basics. It doesn’t have to be perfect (if an author says they’ve never submitted a story with a typo or an obvious spelling mistake they’re lying) – but it does have to be professional.
  • look at our published stories to get a feel for what we buy.
  • submit your work properly and follow our guidelines, please.
  • no werewolves for now (we’re sated).
  • we’re not into gratuitous gore or erotica – don’t send us anything you wouldn’t want your kid sister to see.
  • be sparing with the swearing.
  • I’m not averse to a joke or two but ‘humorous sci-fi’ generally leaves me cold.
  • lots of high fantasy names will send us heading for the reject button.
  • ditto lots of backstory about your universe that swamps the plot.
  • thoughtful, character based stories are our thing.
  • don’t shy away from politics or religion but anything racist or deliberately offensive will get you canned.
  • if you’re writing science fiction, we’ve got to buy in to your world building. Hand-wavey pseudo science rarely impresses.
  • no fan-fic – we’ve no desire to get sued.
  • Enthusiasm, perseverance and an obvious willingness to take feedback and respond positively go a long way with us.

Our process for short stories is a first read by one of our team, where our favourites are recommended for hold, a review meeting, then we’ll either hold or reject (we’ll let you know which at this point). Held stories will be further reviewed closer to publication and the best sent contract offers.

We’ve specified Standard Manuscript Format to make life easier for you – it should be the default and most people who have been round the submissions block will expect editors to ask for it (particularly in the US and Canada). I try to look at stories as objectively as possible but if I’m honest it’s hard to feel happy about reading a story when the writer has ignored our (pretty standard) guidelines. For instance, it’s common sense, I would have thought, that if I ask for full contact information I’m expecting an address (just like in the Shunn standard manuscript format example I’ve hyperlinked above). In reality, I don’t really need to know your full address, but I do want to know what country you’re from (and in the US, what State) because I want to do some analysis on that. It helps with our marketing, but it’s also important to ensure our authors don’t all come from, say, Wisconsin.

If I have to open your file to get a word count rather than reading it in your cover note or when I preview the file, I can’t guarantee that my subconscious isn’t going to roll its eyes and make me feel bad about a story I haven’t even read yet. (And please put your contact information in the body of the file and not the header because your header won’t come up when I preview your file).

If your cover note is just your standard bio byline (at best) without any of the things I’ve actually said I want in the cover note (a hello would be nice, as well), I’ll probably read it with my subconscious reminding me that the author’s rude and we don’t publish rude people. Apologies for stating the obvious – but you’d be surprised at how some people present their work (I certainly am).