Being part of a Writing Group
Being part of a Writing Group

Ongoing Submissions: The Common Tongue Magazine

Payment: Fiction: 3 cents per word, Flash Fiction: $20 per entry, Poetry: $20, Artwork: $200-$400
Theme: Dark High Fantasy

The Common Tongue Magazine is a dark fantasy magazine aiming to bring cultural and integral voices to fantasy and diversify the genre. We value writers and creators who share our ambitions of supporting the writing community and giving voice to writers who help us better understand the world, society, and our environment. Issues are published bimonthly and available on our website and multiple vendors for purchase in ebook format, and via electronic subscription. We have printed issues through Amazon KDP. We also publish all original fiction in our annual best-of anthology series from Sourcery Publishing in both print and ebook formats.

What is our acceptance rate? As of May, 2021, we have an approximate acceptance rate of 11%.

If you are interested in submitting, please review our guidelines below and submit via our submissions manager page. See our Sample Contracts. If you have a question, please review our FAQ to see if your question was asked, or contact us directly on our contacts page.

Fiction Guidelines

WORD LIMIT 1,200-7,000 words.
PAY RATE 3¢/word Payment via PayPal or Stripe
GENRE Dark High Fantasy (What is high fantasy?)
LANGUAGES English. (We accept foreign language works but encourage an authentic translation into English)
RIGHTS First world electronic rights (text and audio), first print rights, and non-exclusive single use anthology rights for our annual The Common Tongue Magazine anthology, Copyright (for work based in our Shared World)

We are interested in fantasy with a dark theme. We accept both works set in our Athuruin Shared Universe as well as original work in an original setting. Our shared universe manifesto can be found here.

Submissions must adhere to the following guidelines to be considered for publication:

  • Cover Letter: Please include a cover letter in the submissions manager’s “Comments” field when submitting your work. Submissions without this information could be overlooked. See our FAQ for more info on what should be included in a cover letter to a publisher.
  • Format: Submissions must be in Microsoft Word (.docx) format. This is because we handle a full editing process for all our successful submissions, and we do this best through Microsoft Word. Please adhere to standard manuscript formatting for your submission. See our article for more information.
  • Type: Must be a short story or poem manuscript. We do not accept comics, picture books, graphic novels, or anything beyond text-based submissions.
  • Tonality: The tone of our setting is dark, and therefore we value submissions that hold true to this sense of foreboding mystery, danger, gore, and cruel truth. While we appreciate uplifting, optimistic tones and will consider them when reviewing your submission, please be aware of our guidelines toward accepting high fantasy, grimlight, epic fantasy, and mundane fantasy manuscripts.
  • Genre: We only accept submissions that are high fantasy with a dark tone. We are aware of the many sub-genres of fantasy, however, and consider many varied versions, such as dark fantasy (Blizzard’s Diablo, folk-fantasy with dark elements like Andrzej Sapkowski’s The WitcherSteven Erikson’s Gardens of the MoonGlen Cook’s The White Rose), grimdark fantasy (Mark Lawrence’s Emperor of ThornsSteven Erikson’s The Crippled God), sword & sorcery “pulp fiction” fantasy (Robert E. Howard’s ConanCharles R. Saunders’ Imaro).
    • We do not accept low fantasy (A.K.A. urban fantasy, magic realism, contemporary fantasy, historical fantasy), young adult fantasy, children’s books, fables, fairytales, or superhero fiction.
    • We aim to represent writers of different cultures and backgrounds, and that is why submissions that apply less-represented cultural motifs (Indian, Filipino, Slovakian, African, Indigenous American, etc…) are more likely to be accepted and published.
    • We accept epic fantasy in only a few special instances, and they must still retain a dark tone despite their scope (i.e. dark epic fantasy).
    • Hint: Often the first things we do are skim the manuscripts for anything that would give it away as “off-genre” and are most certainly a disqualification. Some of these things include: cell phones or electronics, cars, couches, houses, apartments, radios, ballpoint pens, TVs, showers, flashlights, watches, sandwiches, teddy bears, raincoats, Earthly location names and settings, real languages (if the characters speak a variation of Tamil or Farsi, for example, it is fine. But no references to the actual language names themselves), modern colloquial terminology and jargon, teenagers (including the word itself).
  • Canon: Submissions must adhere to our setting as close as possible, but writer interpretation is accepted and accounted for. OR…
  • Original works: If the work is not set in one of our shared universes, then we want work that has not been published elsewhere. That means the work must be in a universe that you have created. We prefer stories that are as original as possible, particularly in the conflicts and characters. We are unlikely to enjoy stories featuring elements we have seen repeatedly, like characters meeting in a tavern, or a villain with a motivation to take over the world. We enjoy stories that are layered, especially with time.
  • Extreme Content: We do not encourage the extraneous use of sex and violence. Instead, we condone a code of extreme content penmanship coined “Graphic but Meaningful”: if the extreme sex and violence has a deeper meaning in the story aside from wanton and tasteless elements, then we will consider it. This magazine is not aimed to the advanced literary adult (sensual erotica novels) audience, and therefore must incorporate semi-appropriate themes in the story.
  • Novel Excerpts or Serials: We are NOT interested in novel excerpts or serials–we only want self-standing stories.
  • Reprints: We publish reprints in our Undercommon Mini-zine. Otherwise, we only publish originals (stories that have never previously appeared anywhere in print or online). We do NOT consider reprints (stories that have previously appeared anywhere in print or online, including on a personal website or blog, or self-published on Kindle, or as Patreon or Kickstarter rewards) for our main Common Tongue Magazine imprint. For stories not set in our Athuruin Shared Universe or one of our other share universes, we buy First Serial rights–the right to be the first place to ever publish that story. If the story has already appeared in print or online, or been given to readers in exchange for a donation or patronage, the story has already been published and we can’t be the first place to ever publish it.
  • Multiple Simultaneous Submissions (more than one story submitted at a time): We do NOT accept these. Please wait until you have received a reply to your submission before sending another. Considering two submissions simultaneously puts you at an unfair advantage and puts more work on our editors.
  • Plagiarism. We do not tolerate plagiarism, and any plagiarism will be met with a ban from publication, and in some cases, a claim to the copyright holder (it has happened before).
  • All Writers: We welcome submissions from all writers, of all nations, nationalities, ethnicities, backgrounds, faiths, genders, orientations, identities, experiences. We’re looking for great stories, by anyone and everyone. We welcome submissions from new and unpublished writers.

Flash Fiction Guidelines

WORD LIMIT 500-1,200 words.
PAY RATE $20 per entry. Payment via PayPal or Stripe
GENRE Dark High Fantasy (What is high fantasy?)
LANGUAGES English. (We accept foreign texts but encourage an authentic translation into English)
RIGHTS First world electronic rights (text and audio), first print rights, and non-exclusive single use anthology rights for our annual The Common Tongue Magazine anthology, Copyright (for work based in our Shared World)

We are interested in flash fiction fantasy with a dark theme. We accept both works set in our Athuruin Shared Universe as well as original work in an original setting. Our shared universe manifesto can be found here. These are published exclusively for our subscribers through Patreon or elsewhere, and then included in our yearly hardback anthologies.

Submissions must adhere to the following guidelines to be considered for publication:

  • Cover Letter: Please include a cover letter in the submissions manager’s “Comments” field when submitting your work. Submissions without this information could be overlooked. See our FAQ for more info on what should be included in a cover letter to a publisher.
  • Format: Submissions must be in Microsoft Word (.docx) format. This is because we handle a full editing process for all our successful submissions, and we do this best through Microsoft Word. Please adhere to standard manuscript formatting for your submission. See our article for more information.
  • Type: Must be a short story or poem manuscript. We do not accept comics, picture books, graphic novels, or anything beyond text-based submissions.
  • Tonality: The tone of our setting is dark, and therefore we value submissions that hold true to this sense of foreboding mystery, danger, gore, and cruel truth. While we appreciate uplifting, optimistic tones and will consider them when reviewing your submission, please be aware of our guidelines toward accepting high fantasy, grimlight, epic fantasy, and mundane fantasy manuscripts.
  • Genre: We only accept submissions that are high fantasy with a dark tonesteampunk. We are aware of the many sub-genres of fantasy, however, and consider many varied versions, such as dark fantasy (Blizzard’s Diablo, folk-fantasy with dark elements like Andrzej Sapkowski’s The WitcherSteven Erikson’s Gardens of the MoonGlen Cook’s The White Rose), grimdark fantasy (Mark Lawrence’s Emperor of ThornsSteven Erikson’s The Crippled God), sword & sorcery “pulp fiction” fantasy (Robert E. Howard’s ConanCharles R. Saunders’ Imaro).
    • We do not accept low fantasy (A.K.A. urban fantasy, magic realism, contemporary fantasy, historical fantasy), young adult fantasy, children’s books, fables, fairytales, or superhero fiction.
    • We aim to represent writers of different cultures and backgrounds, and that is why submissions that apply less-represented cultural motifs (Indian, Filipino, Slovakian, African, Indigenous American, etc…) are more likely to be accepted and published.
    • We accept epic fantasy in only a few special instances, and they must still retain a dark tone despite their scope (i.e. dark epic fantasy).
    • Hint: Often the first things we do are skim the manuscripts for anything that would give it away as “off-genre” and are most certainly a disqualification. Some of these things include: cell phones or electronics, cars, couches, houses, apartments, radios, ballpoint pens, TVs, showers, flashlights, watches, sandwiches, teddy bears, raincoats, Earthly location names and settings, real languages (if the characters speak a variation of Tamil or Farsi, for example, it is fine. But no references to the actual language names themselves), modern colloquial terminology and jargon, teenagers (including the word itself). If your work employs this is a unique way, it may be permissible, but rule-of-thumb tells us to be wary of any elements of this type.
  • Canon: Submissions must adhere to our setting as close as possible, but writer interpretation is accepted and accounted for. OR…
  • Original works: If the work is not set in one of our shared universes, then we want work that has not been published elsewhere. That means the work must be in a universe that you have created. We prefer stories that are as original as possible, particularly in the conflicts and characters. We are unlikely to enjoy stories featuring elements we have seen repeatedly, like characters meeting in a tavern, or a villain with a motivation to take over the world. We enjoy stories that are layered, especially with time.
  • Extreme Content: We do not encourage the extraneous use of sex and violence. Instead, we condone a code of extreme content penmanship coined “Graphic but Meaningful”: if the extreme sex and violence has a deeper meaning in the story aside from wanton and tasteless elements, then we will consider it. This magazine is not aimed to the advanced literary adult (sensual erotica novels) audience, and therefore must incorporate semi-appropriate themes in the story.
  • Novel Excerpts or Serials: We are NOT interested in novel excerpts or serials–we only want self-standing stories.
  • Reprints: We publish reprints in our Undercommon Mini-zine. Otherwise, we only publish originals (stories that have never previously appeared anywhere in print or online). We do NOT consider reprints (stories that have previously appeared anywhere in print or online, including on a personal website or blog, or self-published on Kindle, or as Patreon or Kickstarter rewards) for our main Common Tongue Magazine imprint. For stories not set in our Athuruin Shared Universe or one of our other share universes, we buy First Serial rights–the right to be the first place to ever publish that story. If the story has already appeared in print or online, or been given to readers in exchange for a donation or patronage, the story has already been published and we can’t be the first place to ever publish it.
  • Multiple Simultaneous Submissions (more than one story submitted at a time): We do NOT accept these. Please wait until you have received a reply to your submission before sending another. Considering two submissions simultaneously puts you at an unfair advantage and puts more work on our editors.
  • Plagiarism. We do not tolerate plagiarism, and any plagiarism will be met with a ban from publication, and in some cases, a claim to the copyright holder (it has happened before).
  • All Writers: We welcome submissions from all writers, of all nations, nationalities, ethnicities, backgrounds, faiths, genders, orientations, identities, experiences. We’re looking for great stories, by anyone and everyone. We welcome submissions from new and unpublished writers.

Speculative Poetry Guidelines

The Common Tongue Magazine publishes poetry in all its issues to provide a variety of work. We enjoy poetry, and that’s why we have decided to accept dark poetic pieces for publication. Please see our guidelines below before submitting your poetry, and please submit using our submission manager.

Need some inspiration or examples of great poetry we’re looking for? A great example of a dark-stanced ballad that we’ve published is Everdeath by Qril, which is a very classic ballad with 14-syllable lines, consisting of iamb step and coupled rhymed verse.

  • Formats:
    • Longer-form story-structured dark-stanced ballads,
    • Longer-form dark-stanced freeverse
  • Length: Maximum of 40 lines that have not been published elsewhere.
  • Genre: We are willing to accept bard-singing or other types of fantastical poetry, and as long as it’s dark and speculative in content, we are not strict about the type of poetry.
  • Rate: $20.00 USD per poem.
  • Submissions: Please submit only one poem at a time. We do not accept poetry collections.

Please consult us with your ideas for more information.

Mark Rich wrote a piece on the history of specpo for Strange Horizons, a weekly magazine that focuses on fiction as well as other genres of sci-fi. He defines speculative poetry as ‘the poet present[ing] an unreal world as though presenting the real one.’

Nonfiction Guidelines

The Common Tongue Magazine is looking for articles of interest to readers of fantasy (especially dark fantasy). We are looking for a wide range of types of article including, but not limited to: discussions of the genre publishing business, essays on the writing process and the reading experience, ancient stories and their modern influence on fantasy, and so on. We pay 3¢ a word up to our word limit of 2500 words.

Please do not send us emails regarding articles or submissions. We use a submissions tracker to streamline and handle submissions. Please sign in and submit your manuscript through this portal.

We want to see:

  1. Articles that are thoughtful, in-depth, and well-written;
  2. Subjects that we haven’t covered before;
  3. A clear passion for the subject matter.

Under no circumstances will we accept and pay out:

  1. Book Reviews–We will accept reviews for free, but we are not interested in purchasing reviews.
  2. Interviews–We publish reviews, but it is handled by our staff and we generally do not commission for interviews.
  3. Reprints–We claim first world rights, even for our articles.

Art Submissions Guidelines

Thank you for your interest in The Common Tongue Magazine. We publish a myriad of short stories and art set in dark fantasy worlds and with similar tones. We are a growing magazine with a growing reader base, and we are firstly supporters of the writing/art community. We are always (casually) scouting for art to be published on the front/back of our magazine issues. We may use one submission for multiple purposes. While we only purchase art a few times a year, we do have certain guidelines for any ideas or submissions an artist may like to send us:

  • Subject. Please see our example art prompts.
  • Tonality. We are a dark fantasy magazine, and we value art submissions that illustrate this mysterious, strange, slightly distorted alternate genre.
  • Nudity: We accept nudity, however we do not accept anything overly sexual (intercourse, etc).
  • Landscape: We prefer a landscape style so that we can fit it on our magazine front/back.
  • Author Attribution Appended: We understand the rights of artists is append their signature or mark on their work, but do not make this overly obvious or detractive from the artwork or magazine. We will offer attribution to the artist on all applicable credit pages.
  • Format: If you are submitting a piece to be reviewed and accepted, please upload your work to a file database like Google Drive and share the link with us. Submissions need to be .tif. If you are submitting a pitch or inquiring about an idea you have for a piece, then a rough sketch or illustration in .jpeg will suffice.
  • Quality: We require images to be at least 3k / 300 DPI. We need to resize your piece multiple times for different formats and uses, and if it looks muddy, blurry, or plain terrible when resized, it will not work for our publication.
  • Dimensions: Landscape covers measure 11″ wide by 8.5″ high. (Portrait 5.5″ wide by 8.5 high.) Artwork for covers must include a 1/4″ bleed. Do not crop your own artwork, even if it does not match these dimensions.
  • Exclusivity: We will not purchase art previously used for other magazine covers, book covers, or CD covers. If it has been used as a poster or some marketing maneuver, then we are not interested.
  • 2D Art: We do not consider 3D or computer generated art. We favor a painted style.
  • Pay-out Rate: Artists are paid $200-$400 by PayPal or Stripe.

Please submit by sending us an email with:

  1. Your Name (obviously)
  2. Title of your work
  3. Link to your work hosted on Google Drive (or a similar file hosting site)
  4. Link to your online portfolio

Please do not attach and send any files to us directly. We will most likely ignore you for consideration. If we’re interested in licensing your work for art, then you will receive a reply.

Novella Guidelines

WORD LIMIT 20,000-40,000 words.
PAY RATE 3¢ per word up to 6,000 words. 1¢ per word thereafter. Payment via PayPal or Stripe
GENRE Dark High Fantasy (What is high fantasy?)
LANGUAGES English
RIGHTS First world electronic rights (text and audio), first print rights, and non-exclusive single use anthology rights for our annual The Common Tongue Magazine anthology, Copyright (for work based in our Shared World)

We publish novellas set in our shared universe and otherwise, and publish them in our subscriber-exclusive mini-zine, The Undercommon. These can be reprints, giving authors the chance to reprint their old work. As with our short fiction, we are interested in fantasy with a dark theme. We only purchase novellas a few times a year, although we accept them year-round. Like our short fiction, novellas are to be submitted through our submissions manager. If you would like to submit or suggest a piece, please see the following guidelines to be considered:

  • Cover Letter: Please include a cover letter in the submissions manager’s “Comments” field when submitting your work. Submissions without this information could be overlooked. See our FAQ for more info on what should be included in a cover letter to a publisher.
  • Format: Submissions must be in Microsoft Word (.docx) format. This is because we handle a full editing process for all our successful submissions, and we do this best through Microsoft Word. Please adhere to standard manuscript formatting for your submission. See our article for more information.
  • Type: Must be a novella manuscript. We do not accept comics, picture books, graphic novels, or anything beyond text-based submissions.
  • Tonality: The tone of our magazine is dark, and therefore we value submissions that hold true to this sense of foreboding mystery, danger, gore, and cruel truth. While we appreciate uplifting, optimistic tones and will consider them when reviewing your submission, please be aware of our guidelines toward accepting high fantasy, grimlight, epic fantasy, and mundane fantasy manuscripts.
  • Genre: We only accept submissions that are high fantasy with a dark tone. Subgenres may include Victorian or steampunk.
    • We aim to represent writers of different cultures and backgrounds, and that is why submissions that apply less-represented cultural motifs (Indian, Filipino, Slovakian, African, Indigenous American, etc…) are more likely to be accepted and published.
    • We accept epic fantasy in only a few special instances, and they must still retain a dark tone despite their scope (i.e. dark epic fantasy).
  • Canon: If set in our world, submissions must adhere to our setting as close as possible, but writer interpretation is accepted and accounted for. OR…
  • Shared World Derivative Work: We accept novellas that are set within our shared universe. Please adhere to the setting and be sure to visit the shared world page for a detailed explanation prior to beginning your piece.
  • Extreme Content: We do not encourage the extraneous use of sex and violence. Instead, we condone a code of extreme content penmanship coined “Graphic but Meaningful”: if the extreme sex and violence has a deeper meaning in the story aside from wanton and tasteless elements, then we will consider it. This magazine is not aimed to the advanced literary adult (sensual erotica novels) audience, and therefore must incorporate semi-appropriate themes in the story.
  • Novel Excerpts or Serials: We are NOT interested in novel excerpts or serials–we only want self-standing stories.
  • Reprints: We publish reprints, as long as they are not currently licensed to, contracted for, copyrighted by, or in circulation by another entity, we accept reprint submissions.
  • Multiple Simultaneous Submissions (more than one story submitted at a time): We do NOT accept these. Please wait until you have received a reply to your submission before sending another. Considering two submissions simultaneously puts you at an unfair advantage and puts more work on our editors.
  • Plagiarism. We do not tolerate plagiarism, and any plagiarism will be met with a ban from publication, and in some cases, a claim to the copyright holder (it has happened before).
  • All Writers: We welcome submissions from all writers, of all nations, nationalities, ethnicities, backgrounds, faiths, genders, orientations, identities, experiences. We’re looking for great stories, by anyone and everyone. We welcome submissions from new and unpublished writers.

Submit Here

By submitting, you agree to our guidelines, terms, and privacy policy.

Via: The Common Tongue Magazine.

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