No Longer Ongoing: Orion’s Belt

Payment: 8 cents per word
Theme: All stories must have significant speculative elements

The Basics

Stories should be submitted to [email protected]. All stories must be under 1200 words (not including the title and byline). All stories over 1200 words will sadly be rejected automatically. All stories must contain significant speculative elements. This does not mean all sci-fi stories must have lasers and rockets. It just means a non-speculative story doesn’t become speculative if you include a single line clarifying the story takes place on Mars.

Submission Details

All submissions should be directed to [email protected]. The subject line of your email should be a variation of “Submission – Story Name (Author Name).” There is no need for submissions to be anonymous. Stories need not necessarily follow Standard Manuscript Format, but it is preferred. The font should be 12-point Times New Roman. There is no hard limit to the number of times one can submit to Orion’s Belt, but we ask that you not submit more than twice in one month. If Orion’s Belt rejects a story, please do not resubmit it, even if you revise it. Submitting a story simultaneously to Orion’s Belt and another publication is acceptable, but please contact us if another publication accepts the story first.

We only accept stories that have not already been published elsewhere.

A cover letter is expected. This needn’t be long or detailed. Attach the story to your email as a Word file or PDF. In the body of the letter, include your name, the title of your story, its length, its genre or subgenre, up to three previous publications, and any other information you deem relevant.

Response Times and Payment

We at Orion’s Belt try to answer the majority of queries within a week. If we take longer, this typically means we’re seriously considering your story for publication. If several months have passed, and you still haven’t received a decision regarding your story, don’t hesitate to query the magazine at [email protected]. Because of our relatively brief response times, we unfortunately cannot typically provide personalized feedback to writers.

If we accept your story, we will send you a contract in the form of a Word document. Send us back the contract with your name typed at the bottom, agreeing to the terms and conditions specified, and we will publish your story. After publication, you will receive payment via PayPal. Sadly, we cannot currently pay authors except through PayPal. If you cannot use PayPal or a like service, we recommend you not submit to Orion’s Belt.

We pay a flat 8 cents USD ($.08) per word. This is the industry-standard, SFWA-approved professional rate. Thus, if your story is 1000 words (not counting title, byline, etc.), you will receive $80 after publication. If your story is 500 words, you will receive $40.

What We Want

Literature is a matter of the heart, not just of the intellect. As such, conveying exactly what kinds of stories will delight us is impossible. A story that sounds banal and cliche-ridden in concept can be philosophical and achingly beautiful in execution. Conversely, a story that sounds lovely in concept can fail to move us in execution. Additionally, while we prize elegant, vibrant writing, not every well-written story will appeal to us. The best way to know what we like is to read what we’ve published in the past. Reading stories published in Strange Horizons and Beneath Ceaseless Skies will also help, as they are the two most popular literary speculative magazines here at Orion’s Belt.

Nonetheless, there are tendencies, formats, and ideas we tend to appreciate. A complete list of these would be too long and granular to be of any real use, but here is an adequate summary:

  • Stories told through another medium; i.e., journal articles, mission reports, diary entries, etc. The more idiosyncratic and experimental a medium you use, the more likely we are to appreciate it.

  • Characters who are rogues or tricksters working outside oppressive bureaucratic systems.

  • Characters forced to make difficult decisions that may conflict with their moral codes.

  • Hard-won optimism, not to be confused with saccharine sentimentality.

  • Ecological storytelling that avoids clear answers or easy moralizing.

  • Extensive allusions to mythology or classic literature.

  • Non-linear stories, or other stories that play with our perception of time. Bringing in special or general relativity or quantum physics is a plus, though the focus should still be on the narrative, not on the science.

What We Don’t Want

Orion’s Belt is an open-minded literary magazine. There are very few well-written, well-crafted stories we won’t consider so long as they abide by our guidelines, but there are a few exceptions:

  • Second-person narration. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s not our preference.

  • Stories using non-original copyrighted characters; e.g., fanfiction. There’s nothing wrong with these stories, but for legal reasons, we can’t publish them. Stories using public domain characters—Achilles, Captain Ahab, and the like—are fine, but there should be a good narrative reason why the story uses these characters.

  • Extreme sex and violence. While “extreme” is a subjective term, and we err on the side of being more lenient and accepting, we’re unlikely to publish stories that contain a level of sex and violence beyond that which would be typical for an R-rated film.

  • To reiterate, Orion’s Belt is a market for English-language speculative flash-fiction. We thus do not accept poetry or non-fiction, though fiction that incorporates elements of poetry and non-fiction is not only acceptable but encouraged.


Orion’s Belt pays for first worldwide electronic and print rights and for non-exclusive reprint rights. By submitting a story to us, you understand and agree with the following:

  • You are the original creator of the work you’re submitting.

  • You are the copyright holder of the work you’re submitting.

  • You are over eighteen years old.

  • All personal information you submit is accurate and truthful.

  • You accept the sole responsibility for any false statements made and any rights infringed upon.

  • You have not published this work elsewhere, nor are you otherwise prohibited via prior agreement from transferring the rights of your work to Orion’s Belt.

Once we publish a story in Orion’s Belt, you can no longer publish it as a first-run or “new” story. You cannot have it appear anywhere else in print or online for 120 days after it appears in Orion’s Belt. After 120 days, you can have it reprinted in print or online; e.g., in a reprint anthology, like a collection of the year’s best speculative fiction.


Orion’s Belt will line-edit accepted stories for the purpose of ensuring clarity and comprehension. This editing will be light. If we didn’t already love your story, we wouldn’t have accepted it. The author will have the opportunity to review the story after editing and before publication. Please treat the editor with the same level of respect shown to you as the writer.

Final Notes

This magazine receives far more thoughtful and incisive stories from talented writers than we can publish. Because we publish only one story per month, we must reject stories we absolutely love. Please do not construe a rejection as a judgment on you as a writer, or even necessarily as a judgment on the story’s quality. It is an unfortunate but inevitable fact of this business that we can only accept a very small percentage of the stories we receive. Don’t let this discourage you from submitting to us the strangest and most experimental products of your creative mind.

Orion’s Belt is open to all writers of all backgrounds, regardless of your level of writing experience. Prior publications are not a prerequisite for publication in Orion’s Belt. Most importantly, don’t self-reject. If you’re unsure whether a story is right for Orion’s Belt, send it to us.

If you have any pressing questions about the submissions process, please contact us at [email protected].

Best of luck!

Via: Orion’s Belt.

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