Ongoing Submissions: The Common Tongue Magazine
Payment: $0.03 (dollar) USD per word
Theme: Fantasy with a dark theme
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. Please see the legality tabs below for more information.
Cover Letter. Please include a short blurb about yourself as well as a cover letter in the page preceding the body of your manuscript. This means page-break in between the cover letter and the manuscript body.
Format. Submissions must be in Microsoft Word (.docx) format. Please adhere to standard manuscript formatting for your submission. See our article on formatting standards.
Type. Must be a short story or poem manuscript. We do not accept comics, picture books, graphic novels, or anything beyond text-based submissions.
Length. Submissions must be 600-6,000 words in length. We cannot accept more than this due to submission space and budget. Note: We are more likely to accept smaller works than longer, unless the latter is rather exceptional in quality.
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 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, Andrzej Sapkowski’s The Witcher, Clive Barker’s Weaveworld, H.P. Lovecraft), grimdark fantasy (Mark Lawrence’s Emperor of Thorns, Steven Erikson’s The Crippled God), sword & sorcery fantasy (Robert E. Howard’s Conan, Charles R. Saunders’ Imaro). We do not accept pure low fantasy (A.K.A. urban fantasy, magic realism, contemporary fantasy, historical fantasy), young adult fantasy, children’s books, fables, fairytales, or superhero fiction.
There are exceptions to low fantasy submissions, however, if the setting differs from our own world in a way that it could be mistaken for another world altogether (apocalyptic, nations/physical territories having been altered, scientific rules being altered, etc). Meanwhile, 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. Submissions must adhere to our setting as close as possible, but writer interpretation is accepted and accounted for.
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 do not accept strong contemporary fantasy (A.K.A. urban fantasy) unless that setting differs from our own in such a way that it is no longer reminiscent of our own. 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. Think the Star Wars franchise (including Legends) with characters being a part of a long bloodline of exploits, events, and conflicts that stack on top of each other.
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.
Poetry: We accept poetry up to 40 lines that has not been published elsewhere. We are willing to accept bard-singing or other types of fantastical poetry, and as long as it’s dark and fantastical in content, we are not strict about the type of poetry. Please consult us with your ideas for more information. Note: We do not accept poetry collections. We pay $20.00-$40.00 per poem.
Novel Excerpts or Serials: We are NOT interested in novel excerpts or serials–we only want self-standing stories.
Reprints: We publish only 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 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 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.
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. Many of our authors are new writers and often their sale to The Common Tongue was their first pro-rate short fiction sale. All our rejection letters are personalized, which many new writers tell us they find helpful in revising their stories to submit elsewhere and in developing their writing in general. Please submit!
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Stuart Conover is a father, husband, published author, blogger, geek, entrepreneur, horror fanatic, and runs a few websites including Horror Tree!