Submissions

Guidelines

96th of October appears quarterly. We will respond to submissions with startling rapidity. The price of this efficiency is our use of a delicately phrased but still impersonal form rejection letter, for which we apologize. We would do otherwise had we but world enough and time.

Stories should be from 1,000 to 5000 words in length. (We may accept up to 10K if it’s amazing—but realistically, 5K is as much as most folks want to read through a little window.) Individual poems should be of a length that can be read in five minutes or less. We don’t include more than 10 pages of poetry per issue, so that should be the upward limit for a poetry submission. All submissions should be accompanied by a brief bio, links to the pages that make up your online presence, and a picture of you or that you feel represents you. You may include an illustration that you feel complements your work, though its use will be at our discretion.

We are interested in music and video, though the last two will need to be posted on YouTube for us to link to. For Artwork, please send us a link to a blog page or site where it can be seen. Eventually we will use Submittable software or the like. Your patience is appreciated.

As of the Spring 2021 issue, we will include book reviews with excerpts. The excerpt (ideally a complete chapter) will run on the main page like a story, and link to a descriptive review, with appropriate linkage. These reviews will be done under the aegis of a new member of our staff, Mildred Faintly. These need not be books that have been published recently: in today’s DIY samisdat world, where wonderful work remains unseen, work counts as new until it is generally known. To submit a book for review, send to Ms. Faintly’s attention a paragraph long synopsis and an excerpt of up to 10K words. in the body of an email. We will respond to this as to any other submission, and if we are interested we will ask for a PDF of the book to read.

We do not at present offer compensation for your work, though this will change if the magazine outgrows its entirely free format. Simultaneous submissions and submission of work that has appeared elsewhere is allowed.

Submissions should be included in the body of the email. If you receive no response whatever, that means you sent your work as an attachment, and you are encouraged to submit it again in the manner requested. Please send all submissions to us here, noting in the subject line whether it is a story, poetry, music, video, art or a book for review.

A note about what we look for.

When we look at a story, we usually read the first two pages to see if we want to go further. For a positive decision, there needs to be something poetic, striking, insightful or deeply original early on. If the prose is flat, and we neither learn nor hear anything of interest, we don’t read further. Something needs to scintillate. Verbal felicities and true insights are like raisins in the bread of literature. If there are no such treats fairly soon, we’re probably not going to eat through the whole loaf in mere hope.

Also, the English has to be good. If in your story a loud sound deafens all other noises, or if the yard was secluded from anyone witnessing, we’re probably done. English is not an easy language, its gigantic vocabulary means that words are precise in their meaning to a hair’s breadth, and there are mysterious rules for all the prepositions—why do we “write it down with pen and paper” when we mean “with pen on paper?” The only way you can master literary English to read a great deal of real English literature. And if you’re going to be a writer, you do need to have done that. We’ll put up with a certain amount of shaky phrasing if the story has other merits, but sketchy word choices and amateur grammar make it less likely your camel will make it through the needle’s eye.

There are no rules about sex, violence or coarse language, but such things need to serve a narrative purpose. Usually these are meant to disguise a want of ideas, or (in the case of adolescent authors) they are mistaken for ideas.

Finally, the genres we deal in are all touched by the marvelous. Naturalism and Realism fall outside our framework. Our readers expect the fantastic, for which you needn’t necessarily cross the wounded galaxies, but you do need to go beyond psychology.

Beyond this, there are no real rules. We add however the following suggestions, which may be ignored without penalty, but which we think worth considering. The bleak and the negative must be part of any writer’s palate, but a writer who does not care to please will not be heard, however valid the message. And a story needn’t have a startling ending. It’s wonderful to amaze your reader, like Lovecraft or Poe, with “the thing in the final paragraph,” but just as good an effect can often be had by ending the story before the end, as Chekhov does, at a moment that vividly reveals the psyche of the character.

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