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Taking Submissions: Space Opera Libretti

December 31, 2018

Deadline: December 31st, 2018
Payment: 6 cents per word

“I just hate it,” says Brian’s friend Andrea, whom he’s known since he was five, “when some insensitive clod gets his hands on a good Modern Spacetime Opera with Lesbian Cyborg Time Nazis and Dominatrix AI Mayan Gods versus Hermaphrodite Space Pirate Dinosaurs and their Ambisexual Steampunk Alchemical Gnome allies libretto and then screws it up.”

Folks, we want his snarky friend to be happy. Science-Fiction has done a very poor job over the years at giving us good Opera. Space Opera is too often seen as an extension of “Horse Opera” which is not opera at all. Where are the arias? Who is that singing coloratura diva soprano during the overture?

And thus, we the editors owe a debt of gratitude to Charlie Stross for showing us the way.

With the prelims out of the way, we’re looking for:

Dramatic, large-scale stories of the distant future, focused on optimism and inclusion and blowing things up. Weird mashups. Actual arias. Fat ladies singing on funeral pyres. Watery tarts distributing swords optional. Play fast and loose. No holds barred as long as it’s a tasteful treatment written with respect.

Stories between 2,500 and 7,000 words. Exceptions will be made for really great stories, but try to keep it within these limits.

Original stories preferred but we will accept a few outstanding reprints.

Diversity. Straight white dudes are fine. We all know a straight white dude we love. But space opera is for everyone, so we want stories about everyone. Give us women, nonbinary people, disabled folks, people of all races and beliefs (or lack thereof — atheists and agnostics are more than welcome!), LGBTQIAP (I prefer “QUILTBAG” but that leaves of the “P” —Brian) people!

Intersectionality, too. Is your character a nonbinary autistic mixed race wheelchair user? We want their story. Definitely want that one!

Same goes for authors. We want to hear from people who haven’t had a voice in publishing. This doesn’t mean we won’t take established authors if their stories meet our criteria. Just don’t self-reject if you’ve unpublished or under-published. We’ve all been there.

What we’re not looking for:

Space Nazis are out, as are Lovecraftian gods. Both are overdone. But there’s nothing barring Time Nazis, and Aztec gods would give old H.P. the serious willies.

More seriously, we’re not interested in:



Violence against children or animals.

Stories that perpetuate misogyny, queermisia, ableism, racism, or any other hateful ideology. (Individual characters can be hateful, of course, but we’d like the stories themselves to be positive and inclusive.)

Don’t self-reject. If the story is really good but contains something on this list, we’ll try to work together in edits to make it as good as it can be.


Don’t stress about this. We’re not going to fault you if you use single spacing instead of double, or Calibri instead of Courier. As long as it’s legible, you’re good.

That said, it’d be awesome if you could put your name and the word count somewhere at the top of the manuscript, and send it as an rtf, doc, or docx. Or, if you prefer, just copy and paste that bad boy in the body of an email.

If you’d really LIKE to submit a “proper” manuscript we won’t stop you. In fact, here’s a helpful article from SFWA: https://www.sfwa.org/2005/01/the-obligatory-manuscript-format-article/

Cover letter:

In your email, please tell us the following things:

Your name and/or pen name.

Your pronouns, if you’re comfortable doing so. Most people are happy being referred to as she or he, but if you use they/them or ze/zir or another set, just let us know and we’ll make sure to use them.

The story title. (We hate titles, too, but nothing needs to be set in stone right now. If we accept your story and you’re not in love with the title, we’ll help you come up with something.)

The approximate wordcount. No need to tell us it’s approximate. We know they’re all approximations. (I did not actually know this when I started writing, and I definitely updated the exact word count every time I edited a story. –Jen)

If your story is #ownvoices (ie, you’re a gay author writing about gay characters or an Asian author writing about Asian characters) and you’re comfortable sharing, your marginalized identities.

Has this story been published before? Your bio, including any recent publications.

Payment and rights:

For original stories, we’re asking for non-exclusive first world digital and print rights. That means you keep the rights to your story, but we’re paying you for the privilege of printing it in this anthology. As soon as it’s published, you can publish it elsewhere. (Just be sure to credit us as the original publisher.)

For reprints, we’re asking for non-exclusive world digital and print rights, which also revert to you upon publication.

Payment depends on how much we earn with the Kickstarter, but we’re aiming for a minimum of 6 cents a word.

If the Kickstarter fails, we will still pay the accepted authors but it will be royalties — ie, you get paid a percentage of what the book earns.

How to submit:

Send your story as an .rtf, .doc, or .docx or in the body of an email, along with your cover letter, to

[email protected]
 Simultaneous submissions are okay, but please let us know if you get accepted elsewhere.

Multiple subs are not encouraged, but if you have two stories you really love, feel free to send both. We will not accept more than one story per author.

Everyone will hear back within a week after the end of the submission period with a rejection or to let you know we’re holding it for consideration, though most will hear back much sooner. Final decisions may take a few weeks depending on the volume of submissions.

Space Opera Libretti.


December 31, 2018