Trembling With Fear is the creative outlet for Horror Tree readers. We are open to short stories (up to 1500 words) and drabbles (exactly 100 words), and publish on a weekly basis. We also have regular themed calls, including serials and unholy trinities; you’ll find details below. Note that our short story submissions are only open for a two-week window, once every quarter. Any stories submitted outside of those windows will be returned without being read.
Those pieces we publish each week go into a print and digital anthology, sales of which help to fund the site and keep it going.
We publish both new and established writers, and have been an early home for many now-familiar faces in the genre fiction market.
What we’re looking for
We publish speculative fiction: horror, dark scifi and fantasy, and more. If it’s dark and speculative, we’d love to read it. The piece needs to be a complete story in and of itself, which means no extracts. Make sure your story – even your drabbles – have a coherent and strong beginning, middle and end, and a narrative that is well-paced.
Flash/short stories must be 1500 words or under; any longer and we reserve the right to return it unread. Our sweet spot for flash pieces is between 800 and 1500 words.
Drabbles must be exactly 100 words, not a word more or less, not including the title.
We are a speculative fiction market, so while we have “horror” in the site name, please note you’ll have less chance of acceptance with a story rooted in real-world horrors. Yes, humans are evil. But we want the monster versions.
If you are e-mailing this in and not using our contact form, please indicate in the subject line of the submission email whether the piece is a flash/short story or drabble.
None of this, though
- No erotica, pornography or graphic sex
- No rape
- No homophobia, transphobia, misogyny, misandry, or racism
- No killing or abuse of kids or pets
- No reprints
- No fanfiction (sorry, copyright issues.)
Themed calls and special series
We host several themed submission calls every year, and also have some regular themed series opportunities outside of the regular ongoing short story call.
Stories on a theme
We call for submissions on the following themes at the appropriate times of year:
- Valentine’s: submit between 1 December and end (31st) of January.
- Summer holiday special: submit from 1 April to end of July. We’re looking for horror on the beach, at a B&B, on a cruise, backpacking, road trips, glamping, end of the pier. What about a drabble as a holiday postcard: Wish you weren’t here?
- Halloween: submit from 1 August to 13 October.
- Christmas: submit from 1 November to 7 December.
The above dates are approximate. If you’ve got something you want to send in sooner, please do so.
For all specials, we will accept stories up to 2500 words.
In this series, we want you to expand the short stories and build up a real darkness. Serial tales can go up to 15,000 words, but the key aspect here is they must be able to be broken up. We’re ideally looking for words which can fall into 4-10 instalments of 1000-1500 words in length. This isn’t just a cut-up story; the sections have to work as mini-chapters for the overall tale being told.
Submissions must be broken up in sections with a notation at the start of each section to idenitfy where a mini-chapter is to begin. If submissions are not broken up as per these guidelines, the submissions will be returned.
The Unholy Trinity
We’re taking a slightly different approach with flash fiction here – we want three drabbles which serve as stand alone stories but also have a theme or plot that can be tied together to tell something larger. This can be a story, an ideal, or whatever your heart desires. As long as the three pieces are separate but share some kind of connective tissue.
While not required, we would also love you to include a note about how these stories are connected and what inspired your work so we can include a brief introduction to your trinity.
Deadline for drabbles, serials, and unholy trinities is ongoing.
Short story submissions are open in the following periods:
- Winter: 1-15 January
- Spring: 1-15 April
- Summer: 1-15 July
- Fall: 1-15 October
Submissions for special editions are:
- Valentine’s: 1 December – 31 January
- Summer holiday special: 1 April – 31 July
- Halloween: 1 August – 13 October.
- Christmas: 1 November – 7 December.
The fine print
We ask for non-exclusive rights on these pieces so that we can:
- Keep them online indefinitely
- Publish them in a print anthology to help fund the site
With reader support through our KoFi and Patreon accounts, Trembling With Fear has become a token paying market. If you’re not donating your story to help the site grow, we pay $5 per story by the time our annual anthology is released. At this time, drabbles are considered donations to the site.
How to submit
We’ve been doing this long enough to notice some frequent mistakes made in submissions. So before you hit the submit button, make sure you’ve done the following:
- Run the story through spell check
- Make sure the formatting is logical and tidy
- Consider getting someone else to read it for you before submitting – you’d be surprised what fresh eyes can notice!
Is the story ready? OK, now get the submission email ready:
- Include a hello and a bio in the email; if you use social media for your writing, let us know your handles, too
- Make sure you tell us what section you’re submitting it to – is it the general shorts/drabble section, or one of the themed calls, or is it a serial or an unholy trinity?
- If you’re submitting multiple stories at once, it’s fine to put them in one email but please do attach each story as a separate document.
And now the logistics:
- Please use the submission form here to submit your story OR Scroll to the bottom of this page.
- You must include in your submission message which section of TWF you are submitting to; those who don’t risk their work being rejected without being read.
- Please submit your work in a .doc or .docx format.
- Please include a bio of no more than 150 words, and up to four links to websites or social profiles.
- We’re not a stickler on fonts or formatting, just make sure it’s legible, and that you’ve checked it over for grammar, spelling, typos and missing bits.
- We’re looking for non-exclusive digital and physical print as well as online rights. Distribution will be through this website and potentially a print or digital book format.
We will send an email to confirm we’ve received your submission, but please bear with us after that. We are a small team, but we do try to respond to all submissions within three weeks.
Any further questions?
Contact us using the form here, and we’ll make sure it gets to the right person.