Monday, November 10, 2008

Clarkesworld Magazine

Clarkesworld Magazine is an online venue and chapbook series for short works of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Each month, Clarkesworld will publish two pieces of fiction, one solicited from an author with one or more books published, and one chosen from the rolling open call for submissions below.

There have been some changes in our submissions process, so please read our guidelines carefully before submitting something a story to us.

Clarkesworld is also accepting queries for non-fiction and art.

Fiction Guidelines

Clarkesworld Magazine pays 10¢ a word for works of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. We have a firm word limit of 4000 words. Please do not query about word lengths. We will not consider stories longer than 4000 words or shorter than 1000 words. We claim first world electronic rights, first print rights for the production of signed/numbered limited edition chapbooks (author must be willing to sign 100+ chapbooks), and non-exclusive anthology rights.

Stories must be:

  1. Well-written. Language is important. If your story is only a story because you didn't have the funds to produce and direct a short film or a sufficiently large live audience for the telling of a fanciful anecdote, then I don't want to see it. There is no distinction between "style" and "substance" or "story" and "writing" — stories are made out of words. If your story isn't worth reading as a collection of words, sentences, and paragraphs, it isn't worth experiencing in story form.
  2. Convenient for on-screen reading. Very long paragraphs or typographical trickery may work against you.

Science fiction need not be "hard" SF, but rigor is appreciated. Fantasy can be folkloric, medieval, contemporary, surreal, etc. Horror can be supernatural or psychological, so long as it is frightening. There are no barriers as to levels of profanity, gore, or sexuality allowed, but high amounts of profanity, gore, and sexuality are generally used poorly. Be sure to use them well if you do use them.

Though no particular setting, theme, or plot is anathema to us, the following are likely hard sells:

  • stories in which a milquetoast civilian government is depicted as the sole obstacle to either catching some depraved criminal or to an uncomplicated military victory
  • stories in which the words "thou" or "thine" appear
  • talking cats
  • talking swords
  • stories where the climax is dependent on the spilling of intestines
  • stories where FTL travel is as easy as is it on television shows or movies
  • time travel too
  • stories that depend on some vestigial belief in Judeo-Christian mythology in order to be frightening (i.e., Cain and Abel are vampires, the End Times are a' comin', Communion wine turns to Christ's literal blood and it's HIV positive, Satan's gonna getcha, etc.)
  • stories about rapist-murderer-cannibals
  • stories about young kids playing in some field and discovering ANYTHING. (a body, an alien craft, Excalibur, ANYTHING).
  • stories about the stuff we all read in Scientific American three months ago
  • stories where the Republicans, or Democrats, or Libertarians, or the Spartacist League, etc. take over the world and either save or ruin it
  • your AD&D game
  • "funny" stories that depend on, or even include, puns
  • sexy vampires, wanton werewolves, or lusty pirates
  • stories where the protagonist is either widely despised or widely admired simply because he or she is just so smart and/or strange
  • stories that take place within an artsy-fartsy bohemia as written by an author who has clearly never experienced one
  • your trunk stories

Fiction Submissions Process Guidelines

NEW: Clarkesworld has adopted an online submissions system to help streamline our process and improve communication with authors. As a result, we will no longer accept email submissions. Go here to submit your stories.

Our online submissions form is designed to be simple. All fields (author, email, title, cover letter, and story) are mandatory. Your cover letter should contain your publishing history and any other relevant information (e.g, if you send us a lusty pirate story and happen to BE a lusty pirate, mention that). Stories must be in standard manuscript format and can be submitted in either .RTF or .DOC format. No simultaneous submissions. If you have questions, concerns or technical issues, please contact Neil Clarke (

After completing the online submission form, you will receive an email confirmation with a tracking number. This number can be used at any time to check the status of your submission. If you do not receive this email, please contact Neil.

Our goal is to respond to submissions within two weeks. We do ask that you:

  • Please do not send queries until after a three-week period has passed. Please check our forum or Neil's blog or our forum for any important announcements first.
  • Do not send revisions to a submission at any time.
  • Writers may not submit another story for a period of seven days after receiving a rejection.
  • Please do not re-submit stories that have been rejected. Do not query for permission.
  • Writers whose work is accepted may not submit again until six months after their story is published.
  • Please do not argue with rejection slips.

If you are uncertain about anything above, we recommend following the most conservative interpretation.

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