Hello, children of the dark – and it really is getting dark out there, huh? I sat down to start writing this at 4pm London time, and I needed the light on despite sitting underneath a skylight. I’m never sure if I like the cold, dark, rainy short days or the long, bright sunny ones; the truth is probably both, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
These long, cold nights are, of course, perfect for curling up with a good story or three, whether you’re reading or writing them. And given I’ve been getting up on this soapbox every week asking you to write and submit to us, I thought it was time I give an insight into what happens once you press “send” on the form.
With the size and age of this site, you might think there are loads of us behind the scenes – alas, no. The Trembling With Fear team is myself, Stuart (the founder of Horror Tree), and Amanda, who looks after the specials, unholy trinities and serials. We all volunteer with this site alongside our day jobs, and it’s very much a labour of love.
An important note to start with: Before you submit and we get involved, please double check your story fits our submission guidelines. We do not accept stories with hate speech, rape, killing/torture of kids or pets, and more. We also don’t accept reprints, so if you submit something to us that is subsequently accepted for publication by another site, please let us know and withdraw your story.
When you pass Go on the TWF board, a few things happen behind the scenes. First, one of the team will see the email come in and log it on our all-powerful spreadsheet (designed by former TWF editor Steph Ellis, it is the one true spreadsheet to rule them all). That person will also send you an email to say we’ve received it, and we’ll get back to you soon. How long that “soon” is will depend on a lot of things, but we aim to get back to you within a few weeks.
Once your story is in the system, we all read it and make our comments. Once we reach a consensus, we’ll email you to let you know the outcome. This will be one of three things: we accept it; we thank you but won’t be able to publish it (and we always try to give feedback in this case); or we like it but feel it needs more work before it’s suitable for our site. If we ask you to revise your piece, it is always up to you; it’s never an order, and you have the prerogative to say no thanks and we all move on. But if we’ve asked you for revisions, it means we like your story and want to help you improve it for our audience. It’s important to remember that all sites and publications have different audiences, and you might want to try to find a different home for your piece as it is. That’s always an option!
That email is not the end of the road. If and when we accept the piece, we’ll ask you to sign a digital contract giving us the right to publish it, and once that’s signed by both parties we move to scheduling the story. What that magic date is will depend on how many stories we have waiting in the queue. For drabbles, it will usually be fairly prompt because we publish three of those every week. Short stories are another matter as we only publish one each week, and it will depend on the time of year you submit and are accepted; I’ve learned in my short time in this chair that there is a definite ebb and flow to these things! At the moment, we’re closed to short stories because we had an absolute rush of submissions between summer and Halloween; when I looked at the schedule to get this week’s pieces ready, I saw we are full right up until early summer 2023. That’s a long time to wait for publication, which is why we’re closed for a while.
But don’t worry; we’ll always send you a note in the week before your story is published so you know to keep an eye out for it. We share published pieces on our social media accounts, and in our newsletter, too. Find details of how to follow these over on our contact page.
And that’s the long and the short of it; it’s a fairly standard process, but we get a lot of first-timers submitting to TWF so I hope that helps to settle some nerves. I promise, we don’t bite! For now, take some inspiration from those who’ve been through this process: this week’s Trembling main course sees Charles Cole have some serious issues in the bathroom. This is followed by three delicious quick bites:
- Helen De Cruz ponders what they see
- RJ Meldrum hears a whisper on the wind, and
- Don Money has trouble in space
If these stories inspire you to get writing, you’ll find details on how to submit to us over here. Remember, we’re currently CLOSED to short story submissions, but are always seeking drabbles – that’s a complete story in exactly 100 words, and a real test of your craft. We’re looking for anything darkly speculative – it doesn’t have to be a super gory horror story; we don’t get enough dark sci-fi and fantasy! And I’m very much in the mood for gothic tales as the nights draw closer…
Over to you, Stuart.