Fiction Submission Guidelines

Last significant content update: 18 January 2013

Fiction editors:

  • Brit Mandelo
  • Julia Rios
  • An Owomoyela

Guidelines at a Glance

We want:

  • Speculative fiction, broadly defined.
  • Up to 9000 words (under 5000 preferred).
  • Previously unpublished in English - we buy first English publication rights, including audio rights.
  • Submitted through our submission gateway — no email or postal submissions.
  • No simultaneous or multiple submissions; no re-submissions.

We offer:

  • Payment of 8¢/word USD, within 60 days of contract.
  • Response time currently within 40 days.

Write to fiction@strangehorizons.com with the word QUERY: at the beginning of your subject line for any questions.

Everything else on this page is intended to clarify, explain, or provide insight into the above guidelines. If you've submitted to us before or feel confident that your story meets our guidelines, feel free to skip the rest of this page. If you're uncertain on any point, you'll find more detailed discussion below.


What We Want and What We Don't Want

We want good speculative fiction. If your story doesn't have a speculative element, or strong speculative-fiction sensibilities, it's probably not for us. We are also not a horror market.

Some particular things we love, or are interested in:

  • Fiction from or about diverse perspectives and traditionally under-represented groups, settings, and cultures, written from a non-exoticizing and well-researched position.
  • Unusual yet readable styles and inventive structures and narratives.
  • Stories that address political issues in complex and nuanced ways, resisting oversimplification.
  • Hypertext fiction. If you have a work of hyperfiction you think might be a good fit for Strange Horizons, please query us to discuss how to submit it.

Things which are fine:

  • Profanity is fine. Use whatever words are appropriate for your story.
  • Sex or violence in a story should be artistically justified; no excessive gore.
  • We welcome submissions from anywhere in the world, and British spellings are fine.
  • We will consider stories which have previously appeared in another language, but have never been published in English.
  • We welcome all subgenres and forms of speculative fiction, excepting horror/the grotesque and erotica. Please don't query to ask if we're interested in a particular subgenre; you can assume that even if it's not listed above, it's okay.

Things we won't consider:

  • Stories much above 9000 words, including serialized novels or novellas.
  • Partial or incomplete stories. Please don't send us part of a story and ask us to request the rest of it if we're interested.
  • Unsolicited reprints of works previously published in English.
  • Stories previously submitted to Strange Horizons, even if they have been revised.
  • Multiple stories at once from the same author.
  • Submissions sent to us and another venue simultaneously.
  • Poetry or nonfiction; we're the wrong department for those.

Pay Rates and Lengths

We prefer stories under 5,000 words long, but we consider stories up to 9,000 words. Note, however, that the longer the story is, the less likely we are to be interested. Our wordcount limit is not absolutely inflexible, but we can't consider stories much over the limit, not even as serials. However, we have no minimum wordcount requirement; we will consider short-short stories.

We determine story length by taking the word-processor wordcount and rounding up to the next highest 100 words.

We pay 8¢/word (USD), with a minimum payment of $50. SFWA officially considers us a professional market. We pay by check or PayPal, according to the author's preference.

We buy first-printing world exclusive English-language rights (including audio rights) for two months. After that period, you are free to republish the story elsewhere. We hope that you'll allow us to leave the story in our archives indefinitely after it's rotated off the main table of contents, but you have the right to remove your story from the archives at any time after those first two months.

How to Submit

To submit a story to us, upload a file in Rich Text Format using our submission form. In order to track stories correctly, we can only consider stories submitted through that form — no email or paper mail submissions.

We don't need to see a cover letter, but if you feel like providing one, feel free. Generally, these should be short, addressed to "Brit, An, and Julia" or "Editors", and list just a few of your most recent or most relevant publications or workshops. If you've got life experience relevant to your story (e.g. your story takes place on a submarine, and you served on a submarine), please do mention that. Cover letters shouldn't include plot synopses or pitches. If you are still concerned, please take a look at our sample cover letters page.

Don't worry about how your story is formatted, in terms of font, font size, line spacing or indentation. Our system automatically reformats submissions the way we like them.

If you're having trouble submitting, or have any other questions, please send an e-mail with a subject line of "QUERY: [Your Question Topic]" to fiction@strangehorizons.com.

Response Time and Response Status

We usually respond within three weeks, but always respond in less than 40 days. After 40 days, if you haven't heard from us, please query immediately. You won't be rushing us along — most likely, we have responded, but the email's gone astray.

We send an autoresponder message in response to every submission we receive. If you haven't received an autoresponse within 24 hours after submitting, please query immediately. Missing an autoresponse usually means we have an incorrect email address for you, and won't be able to contact you when we make a decision on your fiction.

Withdrawal policy

After you submit a story, we strongly prefer you don't withdraw it. If you withdraw a story, we won't consider any version of that story in the future. However, if you do need to withdraw a story, please send an e-mail telling us that you need to withdraw your story, and let us know why.

How to Contact Us

To contact us for any reason, write to fiction@strangehorizons.com with the word QUERY: at the beginning of your subject line. Add a few words to the subject line to indicate what you're querying about.

Strange and Interesting Miscellany

None of this is required reading, but if you're curious about how we do things, you may find the following links interesting:

  • Stories we see too often: This list was made by the previous editing team, and has since been reposted and referenced by various people who've found it useful. Though there is some good advice here, we offer it as a curio rather than as a prescription.
  • Why we don't want authors to withdraw stories: This is a post by previous senior fiction editor, Jed Hartman. We agree with his reasoning.
  • Our editorial process: This is a step by step breakdown of what happens to stories after authors send them through our submissions form.
  • Response status page: This page is automatically updated, and shows exactly how long we've been considering stories. If you are waiting for a response about a story you sent to us before the date listed on this page, please query immediately.
  • Fiction Department blog: This blog has been inactive since Jed Hartman left the magazine, but you can still read the archives if you'd like.

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