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30 Publishers Looking for Themed Submissions

Hey, Lovelies!

I’ve got another publishing opportunity for you. This one has to do with themed submissions. In other words, the publishers are looking for something particular, like trenchcoats or ghosts or flame.

And there are about 30 opportunities to submit your work – either to a traditional publisher or through a competition. The list contains some well-respected publishers. (A little chicken soup for your soul, anyone? *wink wink nudge nudge*)

The best part is a lot of them are paying gigs too. And who doesn’t want a bit of extra cash? Some of the publishers do have submission fees or complicated guidelines, so make sure you read everything carefully before hitting the send button.

Finding small publishers looking for short pieces of fiction is a great place to start if you’re looking to establish yourself as an author. It gets your name out there and can help you start gaining a following. This is something that most traditional publishers look at when considering new authors.

Where to Submit

Here’s a list of editors, publishers, magazines, and presses looking for themed stories to add to their latest issues or anthologies.

  • Hybrid Anthologies. They are looking for 2,000 to 15,000-word submissions in the Genderful (submit by April 15, 2020), Future//Tense: Love (submit by May 1, 2020), and Future//Tense: Sex (submit by June 1, 2020) categories. They pay 2.5 cents per word and up to $100 per accepted piece. For the full details, check them out here.

  • Ghost Anthology. The editor is looking for unique characters and situations from previously unpublished works that focus on ghosts and the afterlife. They will accept supernatural, urban fantasy, romance, noir, crime, or horror submissions. You 1,000 to 2,000-word work of fiction must be sent to them by April 15, 2020, and you’ll get $35 if your piece is accepted. For more details, click here.
  • Trench Coat Chronicles. You can submit up to three murder mystery stories that contain trenchcoats to this publisher. They’re looking for 500 to 3,5000-word pieces and will pay you $10 per submission if accepted. The deadline to submit is April 15, 2020. For more details, click here.
  • Catapult. This well-regarded magazine publishes American and international narrative nonfiction. Catapult is looking for 4,000-word pieces on writing, well, writing, 4,000 words on queer life, and 15 minutes – a hybrid profile-essays that feature people of interest to the writers and often explore the subjects’ relationships to their communities, cultures, and even the writers themselves. The deadline to submit is April 17, 2020. For more details, click here.

Chicken Soup for the Soul

  • Chicken Soup for the Soul. I don’t think these guys need a lot of introduction, so let’s dive into the details. They’re looking for four submissions: Christmas is in the Air (due April 30, 2020), Age is Just a Number (due May 31, 2020), Miracles & Divine Intervention (due August 31, 2020), and Stories about Self-care and Me Time (due September 30, 2020). They want stories that total 1,200 words and will pay $200 if your story is selected. Check out all the details here and here.
  • 87 Bedford: Historic Fantasy Anthology. They are accepting short fiction for a historic fantasy anthology, and they want literary fantasy. The submission date is April 30, 2020, and they pay 8 cents per word. Check out the guidelines here to make sure you hit all their requirements.
  • Smoking Pen Press. These guys are looking for any piece involving all aspects of time travel for an anthology. It’s genre inclusive, and they are open to accepting simultaneous and multiple submissions, as well as reprints. The deadline to submit is April 30, 2020, and they pay $20 per piece if accepted. Submissions should be 1,200 to 6,000 words in length. For the full details, click here.
  • Unidentified Funny Objects. They are an annual anthology of humorous science fiction and fantasy stories. They are looking for 1,500 to 6,500- word tales and will pay one cent per word for 7,000 words. The deadline to submit is April 30, 2020. Get the rest of the details here.
  • Sub-Terrain Magazine. They accept fiction, creative nonfiction, commentary, social or otherwise, and poetry. And they want this issue to be all about disobedience. Online submissions are charged, but there is no fee for mailed submissions. They want your work by the end of April 2020. The pay and length vary depending on the type of submission, so make sure you check out the guidelines here.


  • What I Thought Of Ain’t Funny: An Anthology of Short Fiction Based On the Jokes of Mitch Hedberg. Pretty self-explanatory on what they’re looking for, but they do say they don’t want you to emulate or copy Mitch Hedberg. Instead, use his jokes as writing prompts or try to use them in your story somehow. The deadline is April 30, 2020, and they will pay $50. The stories should be up to 3,000 words in length. You can find the full details here.
  • Decoded: an SFFH story for every day of Pride month. This is a story-a-day anthology of queer science fiction, fantasy, and horror by queer authors. They will feature writing and comics released to subscribers every day of Pride Month, and nothing is off-limits to submit. The deadline is April 30, 2020, and the press pays up to $100 for works of fiction and $75 for comics. Fiction pieces of up to 7,500 words will be accepted. For more details, click here.
  • Corrugated Sky Publishing. They want short stories that deal with the theme of rebellious pixies and fae. They don’t want stories of mermaids, werewolves, dragons, trolls, unicorns, etc. – just fae. The deadline is April 30, 2020, and they are looking for pieces of up to 3,000 words. They pay 3 cents per word. You can access the full guidelines here.
  • The Evil Cookie: Brewtality – Alcohol Infused Extreme Horror. They want extreme horror fiction for this anthology. Their guidelines say, “Some call it courage in a bottle while others perceive it as the devil’s cocktail. Alcohol comes in all shapes and sizes, bringing along with it the temptation of sin, the eagerness of confusion, and the psychological bombardment on the mind and senses forcing us to play a game between life and death. Brewtality will dive deep in the subconscious where the demons swim, blinding our judgment and guiding us to make bad decisions without revealing the consequences.” Submissions of 3,000 words are required in their inboxes by May 1, 2020. They pay 3 cents per word. All of the details can be found here.

  • Blood Bath Literary Zine. They’re looking for short fiction, poetry, and visual art that deals with vampires. Their guidelines say, “successful submissions will put a new spin on an existing idea, try out a new and unexpected medium or tell the story from an unexplored perspective. For this issue, we are interested in pieces that push the boundaries of what a vampire can be, what vampirism can teach us about ourselves. We want to hear human stories told through a horror lens. And as usual, we want to be disturbed, unnerved, and generally made to feel very uncomfortable.” They will not be accepting submissions from cis white men for this issue – this doesn’t apply to disabled persons, though. They will take up to two fiction and four poetry submissions per person. They are also accepting artwork. The deadline is currently set aa May 1, 2020, but is subject to change due to COVID-19. They’re accepting up to 2,000 words for fiction and 30 lines for poetry and will pay 30 euros. You can get the rest of the details here.
  • New Smut Project: Erato. They want flash fiction and prose poetry for their anthology. Writers can be blunt or as oblique, straightforward, or experimental as they wish as long as all characters are of legal age and express their consent. They will read up to three stories per author. Story lengths can be between 50 and 2,000 words, and successful authors will be paid $30. You can find more details here.
  • Rogue Blades Entertainment: We Who Are About to Die. These guys have some particular requests, and their guidelines outline everything for you. The deadline is May 15, 2020. They want 500 words upfront and then 2,000 to 9,000 words for your full submission. If you do all of this and get accepted, you’ll get $30 for your efforts. For the full details on what they’re looking for in the theme, formatting, and submission guideline, click here. ***They are also compiling a second anthology ‘No Ordinary Mortals: A Heroic Anthology of Supers’ and will be accepting submissions for this by mid-May.

  • Grindhouse Books. The horror of vacation is the theme for this one. Their guidelines say, “Summer vacation is often romanticized as a time of joy, but sometimes even the best-laid plans go awry. Send in your horrifying tales for consideration in Grindhouse Press’s first-ever horror anthology.” The deadline is May 15, 2020, but may stay open a bit later to make sure they get enough stories. They want tales between 2,000 and 6,000 words long and will pay one cent per word. For other important details, click here.
  • Black Beacon Books. They’re looking for short fiction dealing with murder and machinery. Their guidelines say, “Send us your terrifying tales of machinery old or new used as a means of murder or menace. We’re looking for suspense, technological horror, even a little sci-fi or steampunk for this one.” They even suggest that you check out the following stories for inspiration: The Lord of the Dynamos by H.G. Wells, The Pit and the Pendulum by Edgar Allan Poe, In the Penal Colony by Franz Kafka, The Lift by Arthur Conan Doyle, and Moxon’s Master by Ambrose Bierce. They’re accepting 2,500 to 7,000-word submissions until they’re filled and will accept reprints. They pay 40 euros to successful authors. All of the details can be found here.
  • Grinning Skull Press. Ever had nightmares about B-movie monsters? If yes, you should write them down and send them to the Grinning Skull Press. Their guidelines say, “We’ve all seen those God-awful SyFy movies. You know the ones we’re talking about. Sharktopus, Piranhaconda, Pteracuda. Ever think you could do better? Well, now’s your chance. Let your imagination run wild, but make them believable.” Also, see their website for details about submissions to Deathlehem, a charity anthology about Christmas baddies, with no happy endings (unless it’s for the bad guy). Like, Black Beacon Book, they are waiting until they have enough stories for their anthology and will accept submissions until they’re full. They want a length of  2,500 to 10,000 words but want to see a query letter for shorter or longer pieces. They’re paying a one-fourth a cent per word, but it could increase. For the full details, click here.
  • Claw & Blossom Solstice Issue: Flame. This is a quarterly online journal of short prose and poems that touch upon the natural world. The theme for issue 5 is flame. The work must contain elements of the natural world – this need not be the main focus, but it should have a distinct and relevant narrative presence. As for poetry, they tend to like free verse more than traditional forms. The deadline is not specified, and you’re free to submit one 1,000-word story and one poem. They pay $25. Further details can be found here.
  • Amazing Stories. This science-fiction magazine is looking for submissions on two themes: Home Sweet Solar System and Everything Computes. They are also reading unthemed stories and accept poetry submissions year-round. They pay six cents per word for fiction, $1 per line of poetry, and a minimum of $25. For fiction, they’re looking for 1,000 to 10,000 words, and they usually like three to 30 lines of poetry but have accepted up to 60 lines. More details can be found here.

As you can tell, there are numerous ways for you to get your name out there and build an audience. Most of these magazines and anthologies will typically reach more people than you have on your author’s website or social media pages. In fact, they’ll reach people that don’t even know that you exist – yet. It also gets you that coveted leg in the door when it comes to traditional publishing.

Themed Writing Contests

Feeling competitive? There are some themed writing competitions out there for you to join as well. Contests are also a great way to get your name out there and build a following.

Check out the list below to see if any pique your interest:

  • Queer Sci-Fi: Innovation. They want to see science fiction, fantasy, paranormal, or horror LGBTQIA stories of up to 300 words on the theme of Innovation – which could be a new idea, method, or device, or the introduction of something new, or the action or process of innovating. The full details can be found here.
    • Value: $75, $50, $25
      Deadline: April 10, 2019
      Open for: All writers
  • 24th Annual Parsec Ink Short Story Contest: Forging. This is a contest for a science fiction, fantasy or horror short story (up to 3,500 words) on the theme ‘Forging’ – which can be used in the setting, plot, characters, or dialogue – the winning story will be one which uses the contest theme as a key element. A maximum of two submissions is allowed. Make sure you read through the guidelines very carefully – they can be found here.
    • Value: $200, $100, $50
      Deadline: April 15, 2020
      Open for: Non-professional writers (see guidelines)
  • Everything Change Climate Fiction Contest 2020. This is an international short fiction contest. Their guidelines say, “The beating drum of the climate crisis is a constant reminder that our planet is a closed, limited system and that we’re currently living far beyond its boundaries. We are looking for short stories that help us imagine how humans can live within Earth’s planetary boundaries—at the individual level, yes, but more importantly at the level of organizations, communities, and societies, and at the level of a global human civilization.” Submissions of 5,000 words can be in all fiction genres. The full guidelines can be found here.
    • Value: $1,000; nine prizes of $100 each
      Deadline: April 15, 2020
      Open for: All writers
  • Green Stories Writing Competitions: Screenplay. This full-length film screenplay contest is open to all. All submissions (19 to 120 pages) must show a positive vision of what a sustainable society might look like or, in some way, smuggling in green solutions, policies, and characters in the context of an otherwise mainstream story. BBC Writers’ Room has agreed to read the top five scripts and will follow up with any writers they think have promise. The scripts that are written in the standard format (see guidelines) will get a better reception. Also, see details of their upcoming contests in other genres, with later deadlines – all of which can be found here.
    • Value: £500, £100, £50; best student submission prize of £50
      Deadline: April 18, 2020
      Open for: All writers
  • Science Me a Story. The Society of Spanish Researchers in the United Kingdom (SRUK) and the Lilly Foundation are running an international contest that aims to promote the use of short stories as a tool to communicate science to children in a fun and engaging way. This is for anyone willing to write a short story with scientific content for kids up to 12 years old. The contest has two categories: stories in Spanish and stories in English. All the details can be found here.
    • Value:  £150, £100 and £50 for each category
      Deadline: April 20, 2020
      Open for: All writers
  • Holland Park Press: Is Royalty Relevant? A Poetry Competition. This is an international poetry contest on the theme, ‘Is Royalty Relevant?’ Their guidelines say, “We invite you to write a poem about a member or members of royal families from countries around the world. You can write about any aspect of royalty: their role, actions, dress sense, sense of duty, scandals, economic relevance, artistic or sporting interests, their dogs and other pets, or even their handbag (what’s in it?). You can be a royalist or staunch republican; that’s all fine, as long as we are moved, excited, amused, annoyed, or inspired by your poem.” Poems cannot exceed 50 lines. For more information on the guidelines, click here.
    • Value: £200
      Deadline: April 27, 2020
      Open for: All poets
  • New England Crime Bake: Al Blanchard Award. This is a short story award. Their guidelines say it must be a crime story (up to 5,000 words) by a New England author or have a New England setting if the author is not from New England. The story may include the following genres: mystery, thriller, suspense, caper, and horror. (No torture/killing of children or animals.) Apart from the cash award, the winner also gets publication in Level Best Books’ Crime Fiction anthology and admission to the Crime Bake Conference. You can find the full details here.
    • Value: $100
      Deadline: April 30, 2020
      Open for: All writers
  • Ayn Rand Institute Essay Contests. These are international essay contests for students centered around Ayn Rand’s works: Anthem, The Fountainhead, and Atlas Shrugged. All runner-up prizes have more than one winner in each contest and category. The deadline for the contest around Anthem is in April 2020. For this book, there are contests for two sets of grade levels: one for 8th, 9th, and 10th, and another for those in 11th and 12th grade. Submit an essay of 600-1,200 words on one of three specific topics centered around Ayn Rand’s novel Anthem. See contests with later deadlines around other works: The Fountainhead, and Atlas Shrugged. The full details can be found here.
    • Value: $2,000, $250, $100, and $25 in each category
      Deadline: April 30, 2020
      Open for: All students
  • Remastered Words Contest. This organization creates audio dramatizations of short story submissions and an audio recording. Submit a story of up to 5,000 words in any fantasy sub-genre. Get the full details here. The title of the anthology will be ‘One Last Chance’ and writers must use this image in the story:
    Themed Audio Anthology Picture

    • Value: £75, £50, £25, and royalties
      Deadline: May 1, 2020
      Open for: All writers
  • Wilbur & Niso Smith Foundation: Author of Tomorrow Award. This international contest is designed to find the adventure writers of the future. Writers must enter a piece of short fiction that falls under the banner of adventure writing (see guidelines).  There are three categories: for writers ages 16 to 21, 12 to 15, and under 11. You can find all of the details here.
    • Value: £1,500 in the 15-21 group, £1,000 in the 12-15 group, £100 in the under-11 group
      Deadline: May 5, 2020
      Open for: All writers ages 21 and under
  • The Black Orchid Novella Award. They want novellas (15,000 to 20,000 words) that conform to the tradition of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe series. They should focus on the deductive skills of the sleuth. They are not looking for derivatives of the Nero Wolfe series or the milieu. They accept mailed submissions only. For the full submission guidelines, click here.
    • Value: $1,000 and publication in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine
      Deadline: May 31, 2019 (postmarked)
      Open for: All writers

Let me know if you’re planning to submit anything, so I can cheer you on! And if you ask nicely, I am always willing to look it over before you send it in.

That’s it for me today. I hope everyone is doing well and had a great weekend!

Don’t forget to check-in for a post on writing prophecies, which I’m hoping to have out on Tuesday or Wednesday, and don’t forget about our post about the post-apocalypse on Thursday.

Until next time!




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Danielle Adams

Danielle Adams

Danielle Adams is a writer and editor for a local marketing agency. She has formerly worked as a writer for the Investing News Network and as an editor for Whetstone, a bi-annually published literary magazine. Aside from writing, Danielle has an unabiding love for all marine life and the outdoors. She loves taking long hikes with her husband and cooking delicious meals in the kitchen.


3 Responses

  1. Aw, you are so good to us. I might not have anything to offer these publishers, but it gives me hope, you know? And possibly a game plan for getting something together to offer 😉.
    In the ghost category , what does “noir” mean?
    Thank you so much for this list.

    1. No worries! It’s my pleasure. 🙂
      You’ll have something to offer them soon enough, orangelunar. I believe in you!

      Noir is a subgenre of crime fiction. It has marked darkness to the theme and generally features “a disturbing mixture of sex and violence.” Think The Maltese Falcon (love the movie! Humphrey Bogart for the win!) or The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith (strongly recommend the book – it’s fantastic.) Basically, it’s the book version of the film noir movement from the 1950s and 1960s.

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