Last Chance to Submit This Year!

Okay, so it’s not necessarily your last chance to submit a story in 2023. But it might be! Many publications shut down for the holiday season. They won’t accept new submissions. Even if others don’t shut down, the odds are good that their response times will slooooooow down. This goes for agents, short story markets, book publishers, everyone.

What is the holiday season? The slowdown starts the week of the United States’ Thanksgiving break, which is the week of Nov 20th this year. And many publications are flat-out closed the entire month of December. The good news is that these publications often have one last submission period in the month of November.

So if you have something that you’re working on, you may want to put in some extra writing and revising time to get it out for submission as soon as possible. 

If you’re planning on doing NaNoWriMo, you have a couple more days to wrap up your writing-in-progress before that chaos begins! And remember, I’ve got a collection of useful links about increasing your productivity right here: https://aswiebe.com/marketlist/shiny-or-useful-writing-links/#htoc-productivity

What I’ve been up to lately, writing-wise:

Sadly, I had to cancel my reading at Dreamhaven Books due to catching Covid. I’m fully recovered now, thanks to Paxlovid and Metformin. But between catching the really nasty chest cold that’s been going around, and then swapping cold-for-covid with my spouse, that was several annoying weeks of sickness and recovery for our family. The reading is likely to be rescheduled for early 2024.

I have a Halloween publication! My story, “You Are in the Heart of the Corn Maze,” came out in the Fall issue of Fear Forge. This story’s a bit about the pandemic, and parenting, and the parts of ourselves we suppress. And a corn maze!

Things Shiny or Useful

Archive of all shiny or useful links: https://aswiebe.com/marketlist/shiny-or-useful-writing-links/

Orbit, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, is offering 14 free online events on the topic of “How to Write Your First SFF Novel”, covering inspiration, POV, outlining (or not), retellings, worldbuilding, tropes and trope subversion, magic, settings, romance, ensemble casts, heroes and villains, writing while working/caretaking, scene structure, and expanding a book. The guests include James S. A. Corey, C L Clark, P. Djèlí Clark, Megan E. O’Keefe, Tasha Suri, Fonda Lee, Ann Leckie, and more. Sign up here: https://www.hachettebookgroup.com/orbit-books/how-to-write-your-first-sff-novel/
Date range: Oct 11 – Nov 15. Recordings will be available after the scheduled live event, too.

Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere: https://indieweb.org/POSSE

The Indie Files: Wide For The Win 2 – Retail Promotions: https://www.sfwa.org/2023/10/17/indie-files-wide-for-the-win-2-retail-promotions/

Safety Dispatch: How to Establish and Use a Pen Name: https://www.sfwa.org/2023/10/24/safety-dispatch-how-to-establish-use-pen-name/

How to Get (& Stay) Ready for NaNoWriMo: https://careerauthors.com/how-to-get-stay-ready-for-nanowrimo/

GHOSTS WITH THE MOST! Five tips to make your ghost stories truly haunting: https://horrortree.com/ghosts-with-the-most-five-tips-to-make-your-ghost-stories-truly-haunting/

Money-Saving Guide for Authors and Writers (resource links): https://couponfollow.com/research/money-saving-guide-authors-writers

This new data poisoning tool lets artists fight back against generative AI: https://www.technologyreview.com/2023/10/23/1082189/data-poisoning-artists-fight-generative-ai/

You Just Found Out Your Book Was Used to Train AI. Now What? https://authorsguild.org/news/you-just-found-out-your-book-was-used-to-train-ai-now-what/

How to Use Bookbub with a Limited Budget: https://insights.bookbub.com/bookbub-limited-budget/

How to Write Scary Novels Infused with Fun and Humor: https://www.writersdigest.com/write-better-fiction/how-to-write-scary-novels-infused-with-fun-and-humor

Plot Method: Jot, Bin, Pants: https://docs.google.com/document/d/17t0dYvl2noZS9WEQI-Cjx1Go0GUa1ZxmHnpMT-aiTeM/edit

Featured Market

Winter in the City: A Collection of Dark Urban Stories (House of Gamut) is looking for dark fantasy, dark SF, and horror themed to a real-world city in winter.

Noisy, crowded, ever in motion, the City can be more than a setting—it can be a character, as nuanced and as fickle as a human being, with as many traits and quirks as the best mapped out characters. The City can be the ever-present and constant companion (or foe) to the protagonist and antagonist alike. 

Winter in the City: A Collection of Dark Urban Stories is an anthology that takes place in different cities around the world during the bleak—sometimes harsh—season of winter. Your story submission must conform to the guidelines listed below and feature the City—in fact, the title of each story will be the City of which you write. 

We are not looking for vampire/werewolf love trysts. We are looking for fantastical elements within the City itself. 

Because we all know—deep in our hearts—that nightmares and fairies, monsters and ghosts, and terrors of the real and imagined call the City their home. 

GUIDELINES: 

• Short stories (3000-7500 words) that feature something fantastical in a city during winter. Your story will be titled by the city name (i.e. “Boston” or “Sydney”). 

• In this case a “city” should be considered a large population center (over 200,000 permanent inhabitants. 

• The “city” should be a real place—no “Gotham City” or “Hogsmeade.” 

• PLEASE Confirm which city your story will take place in before starting to write.House of Gamut

Basics: dark speculative fiction, themed, 3,000 – 7,500 words, $.10/word, no reprints. Submissions due: 3/31/24

Guidelines: https://houseofgamut.moksha.io/publication/house-of-gamut

Market List Updates

To see all the details about these new listings and what they're looking for, go to https://aswiebe.com/marketlist/new/. For all the hundreds of listings, go to Aswiebe's Market List and download the latest version of the spreadsheet, or view it online at https://aswiebe.com/marketlist/marketlistonline/. Best read on a bigger screen!
A snippet of the October updates

Click to see details of the latest updates!

Keep writing, keep submitting, and good luck!

Abra Staffin-Wiebe, Keeper of Lists Feel free to share this blog post/newsletter with others by whatever means you like, as long as you include all of it. The next update of Aswiebe’s Market List will be after 11/15/2023. If you don’t want to miss an update, subscribe to the Aswiebe’s Market List newsletter: https://aswiebe.com/marketlist/subscribe-to-market-list/

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What Belongs In Fiction Submission Guidelines? plus Aswiebe’s Market List updates

Thoughts in Passing

What Belongs In Fiction Submission Guidelines?

Here are the basics of what should be in short fiction submission guidelines. If you follow me on social media, you may have seen me rant about some of these in “Dear Editors…” posts. This post is aimed at editors because that’s how much of it was originally phrased, but as a writer, it’s also helpful to know what you should expect to find in the guidelines.

0. Just starting out?

Are you in the process of establishing your publication? Not sure what your final pay rates or accepted wordcounts will be? That’s okay! It’s fine to adjust your guidelines later, as long as you are clear about what current accepted submissions will be paid, etc. You can say, “We are figuring out our long-term policies. Right now, we are reading for our first issue. Stories accepted for this issue will be paid $.08/word.” Changing your policies after you accept a submission is shady. If you plan to change your guidelines, consider pausing submissions and changing guidelines before the next submission period.

1. What kind of story do you want?

Genre, subgenre, any themes or particular vibes. It would be lovely if every writer had time to read several issues of every publication they ever might submit to, but that isn’t the reality. Putting this info up front will save you a lot of time in the slush pile. Genre magazines are generally pretty good about this. Realist literary magazines are generally pretty terrible at it.

2. How much do you pay?

Per word or a flat rate is the usual. “We pay at or above the industry standard rate” is not actually saying how much you pay. Industry standard can mean many different things. Pro rate changes depending on genre. Paying in “exposure” = non-paying. If you don’t list a pay rate, the assumption is that you don’t pay. One exception to this assumption is “Best of the Year” anthologies, which usually pay $.01/word. (They should still list the pay rate on their guidelines, but they often don’t.) If your pay rate depends on the success of a Kickstarter, be upfront about this! If you don’t pay in U.S. dollars, please specify your currency. Sorry, but USD are the standard.

Note: Charging submission fees is a common practice for realist literary magazines. But in science fiction and fantasy circles, Yog’s Law dictates that money flows to the writer. Charging submission fees is taboo, and patting yourself on the back for not charging fees is … weird.

3. What rights are you buying?

The subject of rights is really a whole essay by itself. Usually this is some version of First Rights for original (never-before-published) stories and Reprints Rights or One-Time Rights for reprints. Often there is a period of exclusivity and a right to archive the story for a particular length of time. Never say, “All rights stay with the author!” That is impossible. If you didn’t get any rights, you wouldn’t be allowed to publish their story. Publishing a story automatically uses First Rights, for one thing.

Don’t try to take All Rights. Don’t be a jerk.

4. What wordcounts do you accept?

What’s your minimum? What’s your maximum? If you don’t specify, please don’t be mad if you get flash fiction or novellas. If you don’t specify because you’re honestly good with getting flash fiction or novella submissions, it’s lovely to say so. Some of us have been snarled at by editors who assume their idea of acceptable story length is universal. It’s fine to say that people must query first for stories over X words.

5. How do you feel about reprints?

Do you accept reprint submissions? It’s also great to specify if they are given the same preference and if they will be paid at the same rate or not. If you don’t say you don’t accept reprints, expect to get some queries about them.

Beyond the basics…

6. Are simultaneous submissions okay? 

For bonus points, you could also specify if you accept simultaneous submissions–authors submitting to other magazines at the same time, which might mean a story you like gets accepted elsewhere before you respond.

7. What’s your submission schedule?

Once you figure out a submission schedule (Open all the time? Only open the third week in October in leap years?) and average response time, it’s very kind to include that information too.

Finally, please please please keep submission guidelines up even when you’re closed to submissions. Don’t erase the whole page. Just put a big SUBMISSIONS CLOSED UNTIL X at the top of the page, and temporarily hide the submissions email address if you need to.

What I’ve been up to lately, writing-wise:

If you’re in the Twin Cities area, I have a reading coming up in October at Dreamhaven!

On Wednesday, October 4, ABRA STAFFIN-WIEBE reads and holds a reception as part of the Speculations Reading Series, from 6:30-7:45 p.m. Abra Staffin-Wiebe is a science fiction author who loves futuristic fairy tales, cheerful horror, and dark science fiction. Dozens of her stories have appeared at award-winning publications including Tor.com, Escape Pod, and Fireside Magazine.

Bring a friend! There will be cookies and soda as well as giveaways during the reading. Afterwards, we usually adjourn to Parkway Pizza for some social time.

Things Shiny or Useful

Archive of all shiny or useful links: https://aswiebe.com/marketlist/shiny-or-useful-writing-links/

Five Secrets to Writing Suspense: https://careerauthors.com/five-secrets-to-writing-suspense/

IMHO: What Remedies Do Authors Have When Fraudulent Work Appears on Amazon? : https://hotsheetpub.com/2023/08/imho-what-remedies-do-authors-have-when-fraudulent-work-appears-on-amazon/

5 Ways to Survive a Publishing Draught: https://careerauthors.com/5-ways-to-survive-a-publishing-drought/

My Book is Coming Out This Month. Here are Ten Things I Learned on the Way to Getting Published: https://horrortree.com/my-book-is-coming-out-this-month-here-are-ten-things-i-learned-on-the-way-to-getting-published/

How to Market Your Book to Get Worldwide Exposure: https://insights.bookbub.com/ideas-for-getting-your-book-more-international-exposure/

Rambling About Revisions: https://pcwrede.com/pcw-wp/rambling-about-revisions/

The Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World (how people traveled in olden days): https://orbis.stanford.edu/

Featured Market

Nightmare Diaries anthology wants dark speculative fiction, pays $.10/word.

Moonstruck Books will publish an anthology of dark fiction titled Nightmare Diaries in Spring 2025. We are seeking short stories, fairy tales, flash fiction, and novellas of 500-10,000 words.Moonstruck Books

Basics: dark fiction, 500 – 10,000 words, $.10/word, unknown reprint policy, due 12/27/23.

Guidelines: https://www.moonstruck-books.com/submissions

Market List Updates

To see all the details about these new listings and what they’re looking for, go to https://aswiebe.com/marketlist/new/. For all the hundreds of listings, go to Aswiebe’s Market List and download the latest version of the spreadsheet, or view it online at https://aswiebe.com/marketlist/marketlistonline/. Best read on a bigger screen!

Screenshot of updated market listings.

Click to see details of the latest updates!

Keep writing, keep submitting, and good luck!

Abra Staffin-Wiebe, Keeper of Lists

Feel free to share this blog post/newsletter with others by whatever means you like, as long as you include all of it. The next update of Aswiebe's Market List will be after 9/15/2023. If you don’t want to miss an update, subscribe to the Aswiebe’s Market List newsletter: https://aswiebe.com/marketlist/subscribe-to-market-list/
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Strengthen Your Paragraphs, Merciless Mermaids, and Other Market List Updates

The next update of Aswiebe's Market List will be after 9/15/2022. If you don’t want to miss an update, subscribe to the Aswiebe’s Market List newsletter: https://aswiebe.com/marketlist/subscribe-to-market-list/

Permanent link to this newsletter in the archives: https://aswiebe.com/marketlist/aug-2022/

Thoughts in Passing

What makes a strong paragraph?

  • Watch your openings.
  • Go against the grain.
  • Mix it up.
  • End strong.
  • …And if you’re focusing too much on it, save it for your edits!

Watch your openings. Watch out for repetitive paragraph beginnings. He, she, then, while, next, [character name] are common offenders. My critique group recently flagged me for using “He” to open too many paragraphs in a section. Similar sentence structure at the beginning of each paragraph can also be a problem.

Go against the grain. This depends on your natural tendencies. Do you normally write short and choppy? See if you can blend some sentences together. Do you normally write long sentences? Break them up (while preserving the natural flow). Long sections of dialog? Add action or description. Heavy on “looking at”-type description? Work action into the description. Figure out what your normal tendencies are and train yourself to look for places to go against them. This flows best not as large sections of something different, but occasional changes within a paragraph.

Mix it up. This is similar to going against the grain, but it depends less on your natural tendency and more on paying attention to what you’ve done. Then do something different. This is also a good way to figure out what your natural tendencies are. Were the last 4-5 paragraphs long? Write a short one. What sentence structures have you been leaning on? Try a different one.

End strong. Humans naturally put more weight on endings. The last item in a list. The last word or clause in a sentence. The last sentence of a paragraph. That’s where to put things you want to hit home for the reader: an evocative image; a sound; a shocking emotion; or a hook to pull them on.

Save it for your edits! As always, your mileage may vary. Different techniques work for different writers. If you find yourself getting bogged down in the sentence- and paragraph-level of your writing, save it for edits of sections that you really want to shine.

(Inspired by someone else’s locked Patreon post.)

(Do you have a writing question? Send it to me, either by replying to this email or by using the contact form on my website, and it may get answered in the next newsletter.)

What I’ve been up to lately, writing-wise:

I’m deeply enjoying leaning into the weird and grotesque in my writing. When I cackle as I write, it’s a good sign. I’ve been cackling a lot as I write my latest project…

Things Shiny or Useful

Archive of all shiny or useful links: https://aswiebe.com/marketlist/shiny-or-useful-writing-links/

Why Unreliable Characters Are So Compelling: https://careerauthors.com/why-unreliable-characters-are-so-compelling/

Quick Tips on Writing a Novelette: https://horrortree.com/quick-tips-on-writing-a-novelette/

Delete Me (privacy service): https://joindeleteme.com/

Upcoming Virtual Conventions/Workshops

(Any registration fees are noted.)

ChiCon 8 / WorldCon ($30), Sept 1-5, 2022: https://chicon.org/

Can*Con (CAD$45), Oct 14-16, 2022: https://can-con.org/2022-registration-and-price-list/

World Fantasy Convention ($125), Nov 3-6, 2022: https://www.wfc2022.org/

The Nebula Conference ($150) is over for 2022, but purchasing a membership now still gets access to recorded panels and year-round special events: https://membership.sfwa.org/event-4563942

Featured Market

The Merciless Mermaids: Tails From the Deep anthology wants dark mermaid stories.

We’re sounding the ship’s bell for stories about malevolent and merciless merfolk of all kinds. Give us your mermaids who fought for the wrong reasons, made tough by their circumstances or by their own choices. Show us their schemes and villainous wiles, the fairytales that end in blood. Or laughter. Tempt us with their twisted workings across time and space, colors and creeds.

…Original “dark mermaid” short stories and poetry in the genres of fantasy, science fiction, horror, humor, and romance, appropriate for a “PG-13” audience. Mermaids must be integral to the story. Diverse cultures and non-traditional legends and persons welcomed. Please, no copyrighted characters.

Merciless Mermaids

Basics: all speculative fiction, themed, up to 5,000 words, pays $.06/wd, no reprints, due 8/31/22 – 10/7/22.

Guidelines: https://wordfirewestern.moksha.io/publication/merciless-mermaids-tails-from-the-deep/guidelines

Market List Updates

To see all the details about these new listings and what they're looking for, as well as hundreds of other listings, go to Aswiebe's Market List and download the latest version of the spreadsheet. Note: going forward, limited demographic market listings will be italicized.
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Keep writing, keep submitting, and good luck!

Abra Staffin-Wiebe, Keeper of Lists
Aswiebe’s Market List
Abra Staffin-Wiebe’s Author Website

Feel free to share this newsletter with others by whatever means you like, as long as you include all of it. 

The next update of Aswiebe's Market List will be after 9/15/2022. If you don’t want to miss an update, subscribe to the Aswiebe’s Market List newsletter: https://aswiebe.com/marketlist/subscribe-to-market-list/
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