Articles Submission Guidelines
- David Nagdeman, Senior Editor
- Pamela Manasco
- Phoebe North
- Vanessa Phin
What We Currently Want
We would like to increase the proportions of science/technology and history/culture articles in our publication lineup. Other categories are also open for queries and submissions, as usual.
What We Regularly Want
Our goal is to publish a regular rotation of non-fiction articles, including: interviews with authors of speculative fiction; articles on aspects of science (such as astronomy, ballistics, artificial intelligence) or technology (historical or futuristic) that would be of interest to readers and writers of speculative fiction; criticism of books, movies, games and any other media relating to speculative fiction (see "Critical Articles," below, for the distinction between reviews and critical articles); and articles on history and culture that relate to speculative fiction.
Although the staff will conduct some interviews, we encourage our readers to seek out authors and interview them themselves. If you know someone who writes speculative fiction, whether they're famous or just starting out, and you'd like to interview them, let us know; we'll advise you on interview techniques and guide you toward good questions and topics to bring up.
Science and Technology
Articles on science and technology should be directed to an audience of non-experts. What should someone who knows nothing about, say, astronomy, know about the orbits of planets and moons in order to understand the tides of a world with a workable double-moon system? What kinds of blacksmithing techniques are reasonable to assume on a world with 15th century Earth technology?
Criticism and reviews are two commonly confused types of writing about literature and other media. A review is generally written about a current or recent work, and its primary purpose is to answer the reader's question, "Do I want to read this book (see this movie, play this game)?" A critical article assumes that the reader has already read the book (seen the movie, played the game) in question, or is at least familiar with the author's work, and then moves on from there to discuss broader issues generated by those books, movies, or games. For example, an article might discuss the use of Judeo-Christian motifs in the movie Tron, or trace the influence of the works of Robert Heinlein on the "Eight Worlds" system of John Varley.
One crucial difference between reviews and literary criticism is that, because reviews assume that the reader hasn't read the book, and criticism assumes that she has, criticism is free to give away the plot, spoiling any surprises or dramatic moments that may occur in the book. If what you're more interested in is writing reviews, please contact the Reviews editors.
History and Culture
Articles on history and/or culture can address a wide variety of possible topics. We're interested in new angles on old topics, or topics that don't get frequently covered. We like to showcase articles that don't just sum up some issue, but that make us think, and want to read further about them. Some of articles we've published in this category have considered topics such as: the historical origins of the modern holiday of Halloween; an introduction to ancient Egyptian culture; and the agricultural cycle of medieval Europe.
The above categories are not necessarily exhaustive. If you have an idea for an article that relates to some aspect of speculative fiction, but it doesn't seem to fit into one of these categories, feel free to send us a query. We strongly recommend that you first look through our Archive to make sure that we haven't already published an article on a given topic.
Themes We See Too Often
We discourage any submission that falls into any of the following categories. (The examples are composites; none of them is drawn from any single submission.)
- The article’s subject (or digressions the author makes from the subject) can be construed as self-promotional. (e.g. "People ask me why I write.")
- The article’s subject is already debated exhaustively elsewhere in popular media. (e.g. "Extraterrestrials are/aren’t coming.")
- The article merely co-opts speculative fiction to get an angle on another subject. (e.g. "The Democrats/Republicans are like the Borg.")
- The article contains gossip about an author, actor, or other person.
- The article offers advice on health, spirituality, philosophy, or another personal subject.
Lengths, Pay Rates, and Rights
Articles and interviews should preferrably be about 2000-5000 words, though we will consider longer or shorter submissions. For interviews, this length should include an introduction.
Pieces in the 2000-5000 word range will be paid at a flat rate of $80.00 per piece. Pieces shorter than 2000 words will normally be unpaid. Pieces longer than 5000 words will be considered on a case-by-case basis. We will also give you full credit for the article, including a copyright notice and bio at the bottom where you can plug anything your heart desires. Do you have a website? A new book? Articles in other online magazines? We'll link it up, though we reserve the right to edit.
We acquire exclusive electronic rights for two months. We ask (but do not require) that you give us ongoing non-exclusive electronic rights to post the article in our archives after it's rotated off the front page. You have the right to remove your article from the archives at any point.
Cite your sources. We prefer parenthetical in-text citations, plus a works cited or bibliography section. Alternatively, footnote citations are also fine.
You may supplement either of these citation styles by providing an in-text link to any online source, where your text first mentions that source.
We will consider previously published material, but our preference is for original work. We will also consider simultaneous submissions. If your submissions falls into either of these categories, please let us know when you first submit your piece.
If you already have a submission under consideration with the Articles department, please do not submit an additional article without first querying us.
How to Query
Email queries to email@example.com with the subject heading [QUERY] followed by the working title of your article or another descriptor of your query.
You're welcome to submit entire articles (see "How to Submit," below), or you can query us first. Depending on your article idea, you may want to check with us to make sure we haven't already accepted an article on the same subject from somebody else. If you don't have an immediate article idea, but you'd really like to write for us, let us know and be prepared to show us work you've done. We can always think of subjects, and we may have some authors whom you could interview.
How to Submit
Email submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject heading [SUB] followed by the title of your article.
Articles should be in plain text (ASCII) format in the body of your email message, not an attachment. (One way to do this: use your word processor's Save As Text command to save the piece, then copy the resulting text and paste it into an email message.) Use two line breaks (double spacing) to indicate paragraph breaks. Place an _underscore_ at the beginning and end of a word or phrase to indicate italics; use *asterisks* to indicate boldface. For any other special formatting, please include an explanatory note. Submissions which are not properly formatted may not be read.
We should respond within four weeks. If you have not heard from us within this time, email email@example.com with the subject heading [QUERY] followed by the title or descriptor of your original submission or query.
We prefer not to edit heavily. If we like your ideas, but feel that your article needs significant editing for those ideas to come across, we'll send it back to you with lots of suggestions and recommendations. Otherwise, one of the articles editors will fix typos, correct grammar (unless used in dialogue) and adjust punctuation to our house style. We might change the odd sentence, but usually only after checking with you. Once the article has been converted to a web document, our proofreaders go over it again and find any mistakes the editors missed (or added).
Material other than articles should be submitted to the appropriate department.