“Sitting up in the dark, he took a deep breath and scented a familiar, beguiling trace in the air…”

Deep Green Leaves, Alex Clark

Houses Borders Ghosts

Short Story Submission Guidelines

The Fiction Desk is a short story publisher specialising in regular anthologies of new short fiction from both debut and established authors. We are based in the UK, and welcome submissions from around the world.

If you're interested in submitting short stories to The Fiction Desk, please read the following guidelines.

How to submit short stories

All short story submissions should be made through our online submission form. This helps us keep track of the submissions we receive as efficiently as possible. Please don't post us anything, as it won't reach the right people.

What we're looking for

We run a series of short story submission calls through the year. These always include a call for general short fiction, and usually a call for stories on a given theme as well. We also run an annual ghost story call every winter. To find out what's happening at the moment, please see the sidebar to the left. (Or below, if you're reading on a phone.)

We strongly recommend reading one of our anthologies before submitting: every short story publisher has different tastes, and if you take the time to read us, you'll find it much easier to decide what to submit. Our latest anthology, New Ghost Stories IV, is a great place to start. Find out more, or get your own copy, here. (That volume concentrates on supernatural fiction. If you prefer more of a mix, take a look at our previous anthology, Housers Borders Ghosts.)

One other thing to note is that we're looking for stories about people and places, rather than about writing itself. If the most important thing about your story is its quirky narrative structure, or if the protagonist is a writer who's writing a short story about the challenges of writing a short story about the challenges of being a writer, then it may not be for us.

Please note that we do not consider novel excerpts, non-fiction, poetry, or anything with illustrations or photographs. We also do not accept any writing generated using AI tools.

Word count

We are able to consider stories that are between 1,000 and 10,000 words in length; please do not send anything longer or shorter than this. Most of the stories we publish are between about 2,000 and 7,000 words.

How much we pay

We pay £25 per thousand words for stories we publish (eg £100 for a 4,000 word story, or £150 for a 6,000 word story). Contributors also receive two complimentary paperback copies. The stories we publish are also eligible to enter the Writer's Award, a cash prize of £100 for the best story in each volume, as judged by the contributors.

Deadlines and when to submit

Our summer call for short story submissions is now open. The deadline is Friday 27th September, 2024.

To receive updates when we launch new calls for submissions, please sign up for our email newsletter.

International submissions and translations

We're based in the UK, and accept short story submissions from authors all over the world. (All stories must be in English: if submitting a translation, please make a note in the synopsis field of who is making the submission, and who owns the rights to both the story and the translation.)


We ask for first serial rights on any story we publish. This means that the story should not have appeared anywhere else, either in print or online (which includes publication on an author's own website). When we publish a story, we ask for a brief period of exclusivity (usually six months), and the right to keep the story in print as part of the anthology. We don't ask for more rights than we need to produce our anthologies, or place any limits on what you can do with your story after the exclusivity period. Copyright always remains with the author.

File formats

If possible, please submit your short story in .docx, .doc, or .odt format. (At a pinch, we can also use .rtf files. However, please avoid Microsoft Works or Apple Pages documents as we aren't always able to open these. Read more about file formats here.)

Submission fee

We charge a £5 submission fee for each story submitted to us. This helps with our running costs (we do not receive any external funding), and allows us to devote more time and attention to the submissions we receive. It also enables us to work a little faster: we aim to respond to all submissions within four weeks. Payment can be made at the time of submission, via credit card or PayPal.

Multiple and simultaneous submissions

It's fine to send us more than one story. In fact, we prefer to see two or three. Please don't send more than three, though, and please send each story through the form separately, and not together in one document. (Please note that each story is considered as a separate submission.)

You may wish to submit to other short story publishers and magazines at the same time as submitting to us, and we are happy to accept simultaneous submissions. However, please let us know if a story you've submitted to us has been accepted elsewhere!

Our response times

We aim to reply to all submissions within four weeks, although we will sometimes go slightly over this during busy periods or holidays.

Submissions to our themed calls are handled in the same way, and will usually receive a response within four weeks: our submission calls are not contests, so stories are considered only on their suitability for publication in our anthology series, rather than in competition with each other, and we respond to every submission as soon as we've made a decision on it.

If you're waiting to hear from us, please keep an eye on your junk mail folder, as our replies occasionally end up there. If you haven't heard back from us after two months, you may have missed an email. Please check your junk mail folder again. If there's nothing there, email us: . It would be very helpful if you could include your submission code, which you can find in your submission fee receipt email.

We accept PayPal, Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and Amex.