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Taking Submissions: Story Unlikely 2024 Window

September 29

Deadline: September 29th, 2024
Payment: 8 cents a word for stories up to 2,500 words. Stories longer than this are capped at $200 payment
Theme: Any genre, good stories, measured both by the quality of the writing and the skill in storytelling. We prefer prose that elicits emotion: make us laugh or cry, think or consider, anything on the edges or in between.


Please note that we have additional perks and leeway for MEMBERS, highlighted in GREEN. [Horror Tree Editor’s Notes: The green formatting didn’t come across, however, everything member-related is spelled out by them.] Your membership not only gives you a leg up in the submission process, but helps keep the lights on (and pay our talented writers).

Why submit to us?
– WE PAY WRITERS FAIRLY. It’s hard work writing good stories, and you deserve to get paid. Or maybe you don’t and you’re just duping us? Regardless, we pay 8 cents a word for stories up to 2,500 words. Stories longer than this are capped at $200 payment ($400 for MEMBERS).
– NO SUBMISSION FEES. We’re not saying the other guys are getting rich off $3 per submission, but there’s something about the idea that we, as writers, have you pay you, the publisher, just for the privilege of rejecting our work with a form letter, bothers us. (Costs of running an E-zine aside) We’re going to go ahead and coin a phrase right here and now – ‘Write privilege’, get it? Of course, you do.
– GET YOUR WORK IN FRONT OF A LARGE AND GROWING AUDIENCE. Our aim is fixed on telling good stories, period, and because of that we have built a massive readership from all over the globe. Want to get your stories out to more than just dear old nana? Then you’ve come to the right place.
– REASONABLE TURN-AROUND TIME. If you haven’t heard from us within 90 days, then your story was rejected. Rejections stink – we get it – but its better than forever waiting and wondering. 
All MEMBERS get their stories reviewed within ONE month!
– WORKABILITY. Is that the right term? Well, we’re going with it. Unlike large publishers who view authors as just a number, we actually work with you to help present the story in its best possible light. We do, however, expect reciprocity; Story Unlikely is comprised of volunteers who are by nature team players. If you’re an inflexible my way or the highway type – or even worse, an unbearable ideologue – then consider this a premature breakup. No really, it’s us, not you.
– GET ILLUSTRATED. We illustrate ALL stories we publish, and we think we’re doing a pretty bang-up job with that.
– Still NOT CONVINCED? Then listen to a message that our editor-in-chief JUST received from our new CFO, David Wallace. Yes, that’s a clickable link, and no, we’re not joking (well, sort of).

What to Submit to us?
– STORY LENGTH: Our story limit is 10,000 words, but MEMBERS can submit up to 15,000 word stories.
– CONTENT: To put it simply, we’re looking for good stories, measured both by the quality of the writing and the skill in storytelling. We prefer prose that elicits emotion: make us laugh or cry, think or consider, anything on the edges or in between.
– GENRE AND STYLE: Good stories don’t just come in all shapes and sizes, but in all genres, too (fiction and nonfiction). Although some genres naturally lend themselves to certain feelings, by no means do we expect authors to follow preordained paths. We like stories that cross genres, experiment, and push the boundaries of literature while maintaining the utmost quality in literary technique and storytelling, which is why we’re open to just about anything.
– WHAT WE’RE NOT LOOKING FOR: Excessive anything. Think PG-13, R if necessary. We’re not attempting to salt the earth with more cultural dogma couched as mediocre fiction, or writers who are jockeying for the title of Most Woke. There’s enough of that out there already. You want to impress us? Write a good story. You want to get published? Write a great one.
– NEW STORIES AND REPRINTS: We accept previously published stories – and oh how we love a good reprint(!), as long as you, dear author, have retained full rights. For reprints, we pay 1 cent per word with a maximum payout of $75, and $150 for MEMBERS – the story can still be up to 15k in length, or 10k for non-members.
– A NOTE ON PODCASTING: Last year we began telling stories audibly through our podcast. Click HERE for details on our podcast publishing guidelines. All submissions will be considered first for our magazine, and second for our podcast.
– ONE STORY PER AUTHOR PER 90 DAYS: We do not accept multiple submissions. We DO accept simultaneous submissions (IE, you can send it out somewhere else at the same time. Just inform us immediately if it is accepted.) MEMBERS can submit stories once every 30 days!
-PERSONAL FEEDBACK: Though we don’t respond to rejections, historically we have sent constructive feedback to stories that were close but didn’t quite cut the mustard (what does that even mean?). Moving forward, we will only respond with personal critiques to MEMBERS, (though again, only a small percentage of stories will receive feedback). We are run by volunteers, and with our ever-increasing costs, we have to prioritize those who help us stay financially viable. For a chance to receive personal feedback, Members MUST submit through our Member Portal

How to Submit to us?
– BECOME A READER: Though we don’t charge for submissions, you do need to subscribe to our magazine (free) – this is how we publish our stories, and where you’ll see yours in digital print. Don’t worry, we send out ONE issue per month. Your sacred inbox is safe with us! Please note that although you’re welcome to unsubscribe at any time, by doing so will count as an automatic withdrawal for any pending or future submissions. DO NOT mark our emails as spam (and we know when this is done) – not only will you forfeit your entry, but you’ll be barred from future submissions. Harsh judgement, sure, but easily avoided on your end. Besides, you want to become the best writer you can be, right? To do that, you need to read the best writers out there, and who’s publishing better stories than Story Unlikely? Click HERE to subscribe.
– SUBMISSION PERIOD: Our standard submission period runs from February 2nd through September 29th (In between runs our annual contest).
– BY EMAIL: : Due to our endless quest to dodge overreactive spam blockers, we’ve changed our submission email to: [email protected], the same one we send our monthly issue through. As long as you type the word ‘Submission’ in the title, your story will end up in the right place. And this is important: make sure you type the word ‘submission’ in the title of your email, otherwise it may be lost! MEMBERS can skip the complicated email and use our handy SUBMISSION FORM. Everyone else will email submissions to [email protected] in the following format:

– FORMATTING: Standard manuscript format is fine, but honestly, you’ve spent enough time writing the darn thing to worry about our silly preferences on spaces and underlines and, heaven forbid, a different font. If you’d like an in depth look into modern manuscript formatting, then read this article by Bruce Bethke over at Stupefying Stories, which pretty well sums up how we feel.Copy the sample below (like, not literally. Just follow the formatting (directions in red and blue), and insert the information pertaining to your submission):

If for some reason you can’t see the above picture, then follow the text guidelines below (if you CAN see it, feel free to skip this section:Email Subject line: (SUBMISSION: STORY TITLE, GENRE, REPRINT (if applicable))
Body of email: Include TITLE, (FICTION/NONFICTION,SUB GENRE (if applicable)),WORD COUNT, FIRST 250 words of the story (rounded to the nearest sentence), author bio as you want it to appear along with your published story, your contact info.
Please include how you found Story Unlikely. If you’re really feeling chatty, tell us the main reason why you decided to submit a story to us – this feedback really helps us grow the magazine.Attachment: Attach your story as a DOC, DOCX, RTF, or something else if you want to be difficult.For previously PUBLISHED stories (reprints):
Body of email: Include TITLE, FICTION/NONFICTION,SUB GENRE (if applicable),WORD COUNT. FIRST 250 words of the story (rounded to the nearest sentence), author bio as you want it to appear along with your published story. Include your contact info and information on the previous publication (where and when, online or print, and previous payment, if any).Please include how you found Story Unlikely. If you’re really feeling chatty, tell us why you decided to submit a story – this feedback really helps us grow the magazine.Attachment: Attach your story as a DOC or DOCX, or something else if you want to be difficult.(If this is confusing, then just emulate our sample above)One last thing – if you’re an editor of a paying magazine, mention this. We may contact you at some point in the future if an opportunity for collaboration arises.


Below are listed all the perks you get for becoming a member:      1. Member payments for stories are capped at $400 instead of $200, and $150 for reprints instead of $75 (author must be an active member both at the time story was submitted, and the time of acceptance).
2. Members stories are reviewed within ONE month instead of three (which means you can submit a new story every month instead of having to wait three, as well).
3. Stories can be up to 15,000 words instead of 10,000.
4. Forget the complicated email and submit via our hassle-free/grain-free/humanely built submission form HERE.
5. We only respond with personal feedback to our members (though again, most stories will receive none at all).
6. Additional perks for our annual short story contest, which can be viewed HERE.
7. Read back issues and stories locked behind the paywall.
8. 50% off the cost of our community message board (and in the words of Hollywood Hulk Hogan, “For liiiiife!”). That alone pays the cost of this membership!
Sign up for a membership today by CLICKING HERE!

I submitted a story, now what?
– Seriously, subscribe to our magazine (free): We do NOT consider submissions from anyone who is not one of our readers – sorry, but we’re kind of inbred that way. You’re welcome to unsubscribe at any time, just be aware that doing so automatically withdraws any pending or future submissions. ** DO NOT* mark our emails as spam (and we know when this is done) – not only will you forfeit your entry, but you’ll be placed on our Excrement List, aka lifetime banishment from submitting, where only a generous donation to the human fund can bring you back into our good graces. Ok, we’re joking about the human fund, but not on the ban.
– Wait up to 90 days unless you’ve become a MEMBER. If we have not contacted you within three months (or one month for members) from when you submitted your story, then it was rejected.
– Tell your friends about us: You want them to see your work, don’t you? We also want word of mouth referrals, so talk us up to your inner circle like we’re Jinko’s circa 1998.
– Cheer up with your favorite carcinogen-filled soda and a little word of encouragement from the Story Unlikely team.
– If you have any additional questions, see our frequently asked questions page.
– And because you’ve made it this far, treat yourself to our very touching submission song…


Once you’ve read all the information above (and you need to, to understand our procedures and why we do them), then feel free to scroll to the bottom of this page for a quick reference for our guidelines instead of wading through all that text above. See, we try and make it easy on you. Sometimes.      – SUBMISSION PERIOD – February 2nd through September 29th, central standard time.
– WORD LENGTH – 10k limit, or up to 15k for paying Members.
– PAY – 8 cents a word capped at $200, or $400 cap for paying Members.
– GENRE – No restrictions. Go crazy if you want.
– RESPONSE TIME – WE DO NOT respond to rejections. If you do not hear from us within 90 days (or 30 days for paying Members), it was rejected. Do not email us about the status of your submission, unless we have previously reached out and put your story on ‘hold’.
– REPRINTS – Yes, we accept reprints at 1 cent a word capped at $75 (or $150 for paying Members.)
-FORMATTING – Follow our sample above. We’re not concerned with manuscript formatting as long as it’s not obnoxious.
– HOW/WHERE TO SEND – Via email to [email protected], make sure the word ‘submission’ is in the title. Paying Members should use our easy submission portal.
– MAKE SURE YOU ARE SUBSCRIBED – You must be a (free) subscriber to submit to us. If you are not, your submission gets tossed. SUBSCRIBE HERE for free!

A note on genres and what we’re looking for:
+There are plenty of publishers who claim they are open to any genre, but still only publish a select few. Just so you know that we’re not yanking your chain, here’s a list of genres we accept and are open to publishing:
Action/adventure, general, fiction/narrative nonfiction, humor/comedy/satire, speculate (fantasy, sci fi, horror, magic realism, cyberpunk), memoir, western, romance, alternate history, suspense/thriller, mystery/crime, literary, and any cross/hybrid genres.
++And if our extensive submission page isn’t wordy enough for you, you’re welcome to read a little more HERE about what we’re looking for.

The use of the Work by Story Unlikely entails the assignment of first, non-exclusive Anthology Rights, for publication in the English language, and continuing, nonexclusive right to use the Work in the edition as long as Story Unlikely remains in print/publication. (In other words, you can publish your story anywhere else after it’s been published here, we just ask that you mention that it was published in Story Unlikely first, and after a set period of time after original publication, generally 3 to 6 months.)

Via: Story Unlikely.


September 29


Story Unlikely
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Story Unlikely
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