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

Deep Green Leaves, Alex Clark

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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 are open for general short story submissions throughout the year, and also run a series of themed submission calls, including an annual ghost story call. To find out what's happening at the moment, please see the sidebar to the left.

The Fiction Desk anthologies contain a range of stories from both new and established authors. We strongly recommend reading one of our anthologies before submitting: every short story publisher has different tastes, and if you take the time to discover what we publish, you'll find it much easier to decide what to send us. Our latest anthology, Somewhere This Way, is a great place to start, and is available in both paperback and Kindle editions. Find out more, or get your own copy, here.

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, or anything with illustrations or photographs.

Word count

We are able to consider stories that are between 1,000 and 20,000 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 £20 per thousand words for stories we publish (eg £80 for a 4,000 word story, or £120 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

We are open now for short story submissions. The deadline for submissions is 31 January, 2022.

To receive updates when we launch new calls for submissions, please sign up for our email newsletter using the box at the top of this page.

International submissions and translations

Although we're based in the UK, we accept short story submissions from authors all over the English-speaking world. (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.)

Rights

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. (This 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 £4 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 three weeks. Our form now includes an option to purchase one of our anthologies instead of paying the fee. 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.)

We do understand if you want to submit to other short story publishers and magazines at the same time as submitting to us, and 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 three 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 three weeks: as these aren't contests, 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. This is usually within three weeks from the date of submission. (The Fiction Desk no longer runs writing competitions.)

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 a month or so, 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.