Publisher’s Spotlight: March 2019 Roundup

In lieu of a traditional Publisher’s Spotlight post, I thought I’d highlight a few publishers who have deadlines at the end of the month.  Some are new, and a few I’ve covered before on Publisher’s Spotlight.  I’ll link below any relevant info so you can get your last minute entries in before the end of the month.

Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores

I covered them last year on their own Publisher’s Spotlight if you want to hit up the highlights of what they’re looking to buy.  Be sure to double check their submission guidelines in case any information has changed.

Schedule: Opens tomorrow 3/21, deadline is 3/28/19.

The Arcanist

While this one is open year-round, they’re currently running a short story competition (5,000 words maximum) centered around the theme of “Magic.”  They also have rolling submissions for speculative flash fiction stories and non-fiction articles.  They were also featured on Publisher’s Spotlight if you want a quick run down on what they like.

Schedule: $15 entries end on Friday, 3/22.  Contest open for $20 entries through 3/29/19.

Flametree Publishing

This one I haven’t done a full spotlight on because they have specific calls that aren’t generally open very long.  Currently, Flametree Publishing is taking stories for their upcoming Detective Mysteries and Epic Fantasy anthologies.  Stories should fall between 2,000 and 4,000 words, pay rate is $0.06 per word.  More information can be found here.

Schedule: Open now, deadline is 3/24/19.


Another market I’ve yet to tackle; Pseudopod is part of the Escape Artists publishing group that specializes in audio fiction via podcast format.  Pseudopod in particular is interested in horror: send dark, weird, stories in any flavor.  Check out their submission guidelines for more info.  Something of note: they’re one of the few markets that accept reprints, so if you’ve already got something published feel free to send it over to them.

Schedule: Open now through 3/31/19.

Mythic Beast Studios

Lastly we’ve got The Medusa Contest by Mythic Beast Studios.  Mythraeum hosts four short story contests a year, each one about a mythological archetype or character.  As of this point, the contests are free and the winner receives $300, but this is the last contest which will be free to enter.  Find out more about the contest here.

Schedule: Open now through 3/31/19.

Happy submitting!

“Skin Deep” now available in Unnerving!

I swear I am not usually this productive.

Still, I’m excited to announce that my flash fiction, Skin Deep is now available in Unnerving, issue #9!  This is a little different than my usual work, being the first horror story I’ve published out in the wild.  You can read it through their Kindle edition or snag a paper copy here.

I want to plug this issue in particular, not just because of my own work but because I’m excited to share the pages with two other authors whose work I follow, Christopher Stanley and Gwendolyn Kiste.

Stanley took second place with his piece The Lamppost Huggers in the 2018 Flash Monster contest over at Molotov Cocktail in addition to winning the Ghost story contest over at The Arcanist last October, both publications that I’ve been featured in (here and here.)

Kiste has a novel out with Broken Eye Books, who also produced the Welcome to Miskatonic University anthology, which features one of her short stories as well as one of mine.  I’ve heard that the pdf copies of WtMU are out to Kickstarter backers but I’ll post more on that once I’ve got the print copy in my hands.  She’s also has a collection out that was a Bram Stoker award finalist as well as a debut novel that looks awesome.  I don’t have any personal connection to those last two, I just think they bear mentioning because 1. I think they’re cool and 2. I’m a shameless suck-up.

Anyway, to circle back to my original point, Unnerving #9 is definitely worth a read and not solely because I’m in it.  Go take a look and tell me what you thought!

Thanks for reading!

Artwork by Eddie Generous

“Places We Go…” now available in Molotov Cocktail!

As I mentioned last week, my story The Places We Go Where Others May Not Follow placed fifth in the Phantom Flash contest presented by Molotov Cocktail!

You can read the story for free which is always awesome, and you can also find the full list of top ten stories right here, so check ’em out as well and give ’em a little love!

If you’ve got a story you’d love to see on their site, you can submit that today!  They take rolling submissions throughout the year and also run themed contests on a semi-quarterly basis (by my rough estimation.)  Be sure to follow them on twitter so you’ll know when the next one is announced.

I also wrote about Molotov Cocktail on Publisher’s Spotlight about two years back in case you have a special fondness for bullet point submission guidelines.  Usual rules still apply: I don’t edit the Spotlights for updates so be sure you read their guidelines in full.  (And uh, upon re-reading those, warning for language?  I don’t think I’ve ever had to issue a content warning for guidelines before, that’s exciting.)

Thanks for reading!

Publisher’s Spotlight: Deep Magic

Time for another submission opportunity!  This week we’ve got a publisher interested in some good, clean, speculative fiction.  Check out what Deep Magic wants to publish below!

  • In their own words: “Deep Magic is a quarterly electronic magazine that publishes clean short fiction in the fantasy and science fiction genres…We want a broad, family-friendly audience; think original Lord of the Rings trilogy or Star Wars.”
  • Preferred Content: “What you first need to understand is that we aim to be the dominant magazine for clean fantasy and sci-fi stories. It’s our tag-line. If you can tell a gripping story that doesn’t rely on sex, swearing, and graphic violence—you’ve come to the right place.”
  • Word count limit: 1,000 to 40,000; but note that we cap payment at 10,000 words.
  • Payment: $.06 per word for the first 9,999 words, with payment capped at $599 for stories longer than 10,000 words.
  • Reprints:  For re-printed stories that are not currently available elsewhere on the internet for free, we pay $.02 per word for the first 10,000 words, with payment capped at $200 for stories longer than 10,000 words.
  • Simultaneous Submissions*: No
  • Multiple Submissions**: No
  • Response Time: We strive to respond to submissions within ten to twelve weeks, but our times may fluctuate. Please do not inquire within the first six months.
  • Current Submission Grinder Stats:
    • Accepted:  2.17% – avg 108 days
    • Rejected:  97.20% – avg 58 days (17.25% of rejections are personal)

*This means whether they will allow you to submit this story to another publisher at the same time or not.

**This means whether you can send them more than one story at at time.

Reminders when submitting:

Read the publication:  You’ll need to purchase an issue to see what they publish, but it’s usually worth it to buy at least one copy to get a better handle on their style preferences.  This will help you determine if your work is a good fit, or if you’re like me and you writing varies, it will help you narrow down which submission to send.  It will also give you an idea of what’s been done before so you don’t end up sending them something too similar to a recently published story.

Also – and I feel like I need to point this out, because paying magazines are getting scarcer – support your publishers.  Buy their content.  Read your contemporaries and follow them on social media if you’re so inclined.  Writing is a small community, and it’s important that we contribute to its future.

Read the guidelines: I don’t post everything required for their submissions, just the basics.  Furthermore, this is a static post.  Publishers change their submission requirements at will so it’s always a good idea to read and re-read them, even if you’ve submitted to them before.

Follow the rules: Do I really need to say this?  Don’t send pieces over the word count.  Don’t send content they specifically warn against.  Don’t send weirdly formatted manuscripts if they give you specific instructions.  “But Liz, I–” Nope!  No, no, no.  If you do not follow the rules you risk being a pariah to that magazine – and worse, editors can exchange notes on who’s being a pain.

Happy submitting!

Publishing Update

Hi all!  The holidays – and aftermath – really did a number on me this year, so I’m taking a break from sharing my thoughts on writing technique and spotlights to share with you some publishing updates and exciting news of what’s to come!

Birds of a Feather is out NOW in the Bubble Off-Plumb Anthology

This one hit in the middle of the holiday craziness, so I missed getting a chance to post about it until now.  One of my shorts, Birds of a Feather, is included in the Bubble Off-Plumb anthology currently on sale through  This story is a personal favorite of mine, a ridiculously fun little piece about an odd-couple living situation featuring an elderly woman and a penguin.

Googling surreal images is a great writing prompt exercise, by the way.

The whole book is like that, so if you’re looking for the odd and unexpected collection of short stories, you should absolutely get yourself a copy.

The Places We Go Where Others May Not Follow takes 5th in Phantom Flash

I’m still fantastically excited about this one, even more so than yesterday when I heard the news!  I’ve been trying to breaking Molotov Cocktail for awhile, and it didn’t seem real until I sat down to write this post.

For those of you who haven’t been following my nonsense on twitter (for shame, go do that), yesterday Molotov Cocktail announced the winners for their Phantom Flash contest and my entry, The Places We Go Where Others May Not Follow placed at #5!  Check back next week where I’ll link to the story so you can enjoy it along with the other fabulous tales that made it in!

If you want to get in on some of that for the next contest, go check them out!  I wrote about Molotov Cocktail on Publisher’s Spotlight about two years back; they take rolling submissions throughout the year (no payment, sorry) and run contests every couple or months or so with low entry fees and a shot at prize money for your efforts.  Keep in mind that their original Spotlight might have some out of date info in there, so check out their site directly for updated submission guidelines if you want in.

Other Publishing News

Also coming down the pipeline, I’ve got a horror short story due out sometime this month so expect a link when that drops, and I have an advance PDF copy of Welcome to Miskatonic University sitting in my inbox.  If you ordered a copy through the Kickstarter you should be seeing that in the mail sometime next month, according to the updated schedule.  I’ll be posting about that one as soon as I’ve got it in my hands.

Thank you all for your support and for checking out what I’ve got out there, I’m excited to share much more with you this year!

5 Free Resources to Find Active Submission Calls

Hi all, and happy December!  I hope y’all have had a productive year with your writing projects.  For me, December is the time to reflect on my goals from last year and plan for the future.  This year I met my goal of 52 submissions (one per week) and I even managed to get a few acceptances out of it.  (Info forthcoming as the publications hit shelves… er, interwebs, etc.)

So this year I’d like to pay it forward by offering up some of my resources for finding publications.  As long-time readers know, I often post Publisher’s Spotlights to highlight recurring publications and the occasional one-off submission call.  You can look forward to more of that in 2019, but in the meantime, here are five resources that will help you find the perfect home for your work in progress.

1. The Submission Grinder (and Duotrope)

I did a full blog post on how to use The Submission Grinder to find the perfect publisher, and I recommend checking that out if you’re new to researching publishers in general.  For the rest of you, here’s a quick recap of what they offer:

  • Searchable database of current publishers, including an advanced search to match your WIP with the perfect fit
  • Research a particular market’s submission statistics, pulled from voluntary data submitted by users (this is free to view)
  • Log in to track your submissions and submit your data (this is also free)
  • Check out Sub Grinder’s FAQ for a quick run-down of how they operate

If you’re feeling fancy, you can also check out Duotrope, which has similar functionality.  Duotrope is a paid service but you can get a free trial if you want to compare it to Sub Grinder and see which suits you better.  For more on Duotrope, click here.

2. Submittable

If you don’t already have an account with Submittable, you should get one, for the following reasons:

  • Many publishers already use this system and require you to submit through it
  • It tracks your submission data automatically when you submit to publishers through it, as opposed to Submission Grinder, where you have to enter everything manually
  • It’s free

When you log in to your account, you will also get access to their “Discover” feature, which lists upcoming calls from various publishers.  That link won’t work unless you’ve got an account, but here’s what it looks like:

Submittable search
Yes, I realize it’s back-dated from last week, it takes me awhile to write a blog post.

You can filter down search results based on fees, deadlines, and search for publishers based on tags.  It’s not as advanced as Sub Grinder or Duotrope but you can follow publishers like you would on social media and save upcoming calls to check back on.  There’s a Submissions tab to track what you’ve sent to whom, and you can also save personal info in your profile so your bio/cover letter loads automatically in those fields.

The main page and “How it Works” section are tailored for companies looking to accept submissions rather than those who submit, so you’ll want to check out this page for more relevant information for writers.

3. Horror Tree

Don’t let the name fool you, Horror Tree isn’t solely for Horror markets, but it does lean heavily toward speculative fiction and genre calls.  Like the other sites on this list, it has the functionality to filter based on submission type and pay, but my favorite feature is the calendar view.

I need a deadline to function, so a lot of the time I will write a new piece for a specific submission call.  This is a great way to see at a glance what calls are due when so you can plan out your month and find new opportunities.  I often start here if I’m dealing with writer’s block and looking for fresh ideas and new projects.  Then, if the piece I write for a call isn’t accepted, I’ll circle back to the Sub Grinder to see who else might want what I wrote.

For more info on what they offer and their general mission statement, click here.

4. Master’s Review Blog

The Master’s Review is a publication in its own right that will get its own Publisher’s Spotlight next year.  They tend to be more literary and have a soft spot for emerging voices.  Each month they compile upcoming deadlines to highlight various opportunities for writers on their blog .

You can expect their January post in the next couple weeks, but in the meantime check out their post from this December to catch any last minute 2018 submission calls and bookmark their page so you can check back after the new year.

For more information about The Master’s Review, click here.

5. Freedom with Writing

What’s easier than a newsletter that e-mails writing opportunities directly to your inbox?  Freedom with Writing comes exactly as advertised: they send you writing jobs.  What kinds of writing jobs?  All kinds.  Publishers looking for articles.  Contests.  Fiction publishers.  Mileage may vary on this one just because what they send is so diverse.

My advice?  Sign up, delete the e-mails that don’t interest you and save the ones you do.  Here’s a link to one of their newsletters from this month so you have an idea of what to expect.

Hopefully those sites are enough to get you started with next year’s submission planning.  Got any go-to resources to share with the class?  Link them in the comments below and share the love!  Also, some of the calls linked above are good ’til the end of the month so see if any interest you and get those last subs in for December!

Have a Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Happy Submitting, y’all!  See you in 2019!

Why was my submission rejected?

So, you’ve done the hard work of writing your short story, editing it to the best of your abilities and sending it out to a publisher.  Then, a few weeks later an e-mail pops up in your inbox: thanks but no thanks.  “So what went wrong?” you may be asking yourself. Why was my submission rejected?

First off, you’re in good company.  This year was one of my best in terms of output with 45 submissions and 4 acceptances, but you’ll notice that even then I’m only at a 10% acceptance rate.  That’s a lot of ‘no’s.  So many that I default assume that a submission e-mail is a rejection before I open it.  (And statistically I’m right.)

But anyway, we’re not here to sulk or boast, we’re here to talk about what you can control and how to improve.  So let’s look at three reasons why submissions are commonly rejected and how to keep yourself in good standing.

It Wasn’t a Good Fit

Ooh, tough break, kid.  Probably the highest tier rejection; your piece was good, but not quite good enough to make the cut.  This can be for a number of reasons:

  • Your story might not have worked well with the others that were already selected
  • Your story might’ve been similar to another one, and they chose that one instead
  • If this isn’t for an anthology, it could just be a timing issue – I got a rejection once because my story featured a unicorn in the opening scene and “we’ve just seen too many unicorns as of late.”  (For the record: the unicorn only appeared in that one scene but hey, their fault for not reading past the first page.)

How do I know if this is me:  Sometimes a publisher will be kind enough to offer feedback or tell you how close you got it.  Maybe you got a second-round confirmation but didn’t make the final cut.  You can also check out the anthology to see what did make it in and see if your piece might not have worked well with the other content.

How do I fix this:  Check out other publishers.  Your best bet with a good story that didn’t make the cut is to send it somewhere else, preferably somewhere where your style and voice fits right in.  Be sure to give it a cursory read-through when you get it back to see if it has any glaring errors or if you need to revise the content for the next publisher.  Then, send it back out there and try, try again.  At any rate, don’t despair.  Most stories will get rejected a few times before someone picks it up.  In the meantime, make sure you’re reading the publications you submit to.  It will give you a better sense of what styles they like and which pieces you should send them in the future.

It Needs Work

So your story has been out to a few publishers and hasn’t gotten any takers.  It might be time to swallow your pride and admit that this one might need a serious revision before you send it back out there.  If you want to explore what might not be working, I suggest going back to the Content Checklist and make sure that your story doesn’t have any major issues with any of the three core story components:

  • Pacing: does it drag?  Is it confusing?
  • Characters: are they interesting?  Do I care what happens to them?
  • Conflict: did anything meaningful happen?  Was it a satisfying conclusion?

How do I know if this is me:  Publishers will rarely tell you why a piece isn’t working for them, but if you go awhile without any notes whatsoever it might be time to solicit some feedback.  Do you have over five rejections?  Over ten?  When was the last time you revised it?  Read the stories the publisher selected and compare them to the story you sent them.  Are you writing on the same level as the competition?  Check that above link for more details on common content issues if you think this might be you.

Another note: it’s possible that if you have an objectively good story and you’re just aiming too high to compete.  Are you submitting to only pro-rated publishers that pay $0.05 per word or more?  Are they the kind of publisher who only prints established authors, winning Hugos and Nebulas year after year?  I’m not saying don’t submit to them, aim as high as you please, but maybe curb your expectations a little.  The competition is that much fiercer at the pro level.

How do I fix this:  Revise.  Start there.  You know that nagging feeling in the back of your head that says this flash fiction piece really ought to be expanded but you don’t want to because that’s a lot of work?  Listen to that feeling.  Same thing if you have a 10,000 word epic that drags in the middle.  Learn to kill your darlings.  You’re going to have to learn how to make those hard edits if you want to be published.

If you’re having trouble figuring out what’s wrong with the story, make friends with some writers on Twitter.  Join a writer’s group through MeetUp, or even ask someone who knows something about what makes a good story.  If I have a story that I know is good but has problems, I will send it to a publisher who routinely gives out feedback just so I can get their professional opinion.  And no matter what kind of feedback you get, be open minded.  Sometimes the best thing for a story is a complete re-write.  It can be tedious, but you have to put your ego aside and do the real work to whip it into shape.

Lastly, if you’re aiming for the big leagues, you might want to try a less competitive publisher with semi-pro pay rates.  Build your skills in the minor leagues while you work up some credits and keep trying for those pro-rated markets.  They’re tough to get into, and there’s no shame in missing the mark.  Even successful authors get rejected; it’s a numbers game.  That said, keep revising.  You’ll never consistently get into the pro markets if you don’t sharpen your skills.

You Done Goofed

I really debated skipping this one, but it shows up so often on the list of publisher’s pet peeves that I figured it was worth a nod as one of the top three reasons for rejection.  To recap, this is for all those submissions where you messed up:

  • Sent in content that didn’t fit the submission call
  • Didn’t follow the word count limits
  • Ignored the formatting (either on purpose or because they stuck it somewhere obscure on their website)
  • Either did not read or assumed that the rules did not apply to you

How do I know if this is me:  Did the rejection come back so fast you wonder if they read past the first paragraph?  They might not have if you didn’t follow the rules.  To be fair, maybe you missed some rules on accident, but this is more of a problem with carelessness than content.  And if you deliberately ignored the rules in order to stand out from the crowd?  Hoo boy.  Sit down, we need to take you back to square one to explain basic etiquette and how not to get yourself blacklisted among publishers.

How do I fix it:  Read the directions.  This is an easy fix, guys.  If you thought you could get away with being careless, you can’t.  If you thought ignoring the rules is clever, you’re probably going into the reject pile before they even open your file.  We all make mistakes, but you’re only going to improve your acceptance count if you learn from them.

So there you go!  Got any tips on how you improved your own rate of acceptance?  Questions about how to revise?  Post ’em in the comments and share with the class!

Happy submitting!