21 Themed Submissions Calls for September 2020

***Please note, there has been an uptick in publishers that are not accepting unagented submissions. Too many presses and publishers are getting mass submissions that do not fit their catalogs. DO NOT submit your work if it doesn't fit the publisher's guidelines.

And we’re back! Welcome to September 2020, everyone. Hopefully, this is the month where things start looking up. Now, I know I’ve been away for the last two weeks (I got married), but I’m back with some new content and publishing opportunities.

Today’s publishing opportunity is all of the themed submission calls for September 2020. As usual, we will be looking at literary journals and magazines looking for poetry, fiction, and nonfiction in various genres with specific focuses for their next issue.

We’ll then take a look at some themed contests. You may also want to check out the themed submission post for August 2020. It has some opportunities listed that have deadlines in September 2020.

Journals and Magazines Looking for Themed Submissions for September 2020

The following publishers are looking for poetry, fiction, and nonfiction pieces for their next themed editions. Each press pays its contributors.

Longleaf Review: Harvest

Longleaf is currently reading fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry on their “harvest” theme. Here’s what the editors have to say about it:

“Harvest as a cornucopia that brings people together—across a dining room table or across screens in times of crisis. Harvest as a terror—zombies in search of brains and bones, body snatchers in a graveyard. The harvest as a life — after loss, grief, sorrow, betrayal, illness, agony; an invitation to the underworld with Hades.

Give us taste and texture; the excitement of the planting; the growing; the bloodlust; the hunger. Give us fallow fields and baskets overflowing. And give us walls teeming with unwanted life and tongues red with poison berries.”

Longleaf is currently reading for this theme between September 1 to September 10, 2020. You can find their full submission criteria here.

  • Reading period: September 1-10, 2020
  • Length: Up to 5,000 words for fiction and nonfiction; up to 5 poems
  • Pay: $20
Harvest September 2020

Poetry Archive NOW! WordView 2020

The Poetry Archive is celebrating its 20th anniversary and is looking for poets who want to read a single poem they have written. The poems need to be recorded on video and will be uploaded to the website’s YouTube channel.

The Poetry Archive will select 20 entries for a special Archive Collection for their website, and these poets will get a royalty fee. To find out more, you can access their homepage here and their FAQ page here.

  • Deadline: September 10, 2020
  • Length: One poem, a maximum of two minutes of reading time
  • Pay: £100 each for 20 poets

Eerie River Publishing: It Calls From the Sea

Here’s what the editors are looking for in this horror fiction anthology:

“Bring me your shipwrecks, your lost passengers and mysterious creatures. Tantalize me with gripping tales of horror and drown me in tears of sorrow as we discover what lies within the deepest crevasses of the ocean or in the innocent creek. The ocean is deep, dark and vast. There are real dangers lurk not only below but above..”

You can check out their submission guidelines for a better idea of what they’re looking for here.

  • Deadline: September 15, 2020
  • Length: 2,000-8,000 words
  • Pay: $10-20

Contemporary Verse 2: 2S + QTBIPOC Bodies

This Canadian journal of poetry is reading work on 2S + QTBIPOC Bodies. Their guidelines say:

“We are seeking poetry and prose for Volume 43.3 of CV2 on 2S + QTBIPOC Bodies. What does your queer body mean to you as a writer? Regarding relationships with queerness and bodies, what is your landscape to yourself and to others? Does non-human kinship relate back to your two-spirit identity/queerness? What does your skin taste like after being queered up? What is the most sensual part of your body: shoulders, calves, sternum, knees and toes? Show me your ankles and I’ll show you mine! 

The following demographics are encouraged to submit to the journal: Two-Spirit, Black, Trans, Indigenous, People of Color, and non-binary writers. You can find their general submission guidelines here and the theme details here.

  • Deadline: September 15, 2020
  • Length: Up to 6 poems; varies for prose.
  • Pay: C$30 per poem; C$50-$100 for interviews and articles; C$40-$150 for essays; C$50-$80 for reviews

Cricket Media: Muse – Three themes

Cricket Media’s Muse Magazine, a discovery magazine for nine to 14-year-old readers, is accepting work and pitches for some of their themes. The magazine publishes science fiction or science-focused fiction, articles, profiles, interviews, activities, experiments, photo essays, and infographics.

The magazine is currently looking for submissions for the following three themes:

  • Honeybees and Pollinators: For the April 2021 issue, the organizing questions are: How does pollination relate to the health of ecosystems, people, and the planet? The deadline is September 15, 2020.
  • The Ears Have It: For the May/June 2021 issue, the organizing questions are: Where does sound meet art, engineering, and science? How does hearing actually work? The deadline is October 15, 2020.
  • Making Predictions: For the July/August 2021 issue, the organizing questions are: How do scientists make predictions, and what makes predictions more or less accurate? The deadline is December 1, 2020.

Apart from these three, there are other themes listed. You can find all of the details here.

  • Deadlines: See above
  • Length: 800-1,200 words for science fiction or science-focused fiction; 800-2,000 words for features; 500-800 words for profiles, interviews, activities, and experiments; 100-300 words for photo essays
  • Pay: Unspecified

Flame Tree Publishing: Terrifying Ghosts

The theme for Flame Tree’s next fiction anthology is “terrifying ghosts.” Here’s what the guidelines say:

“Ghastly castles, haunted mansions, shadowy forests and long, dark corridors… This new addition to the Gothic Fantasy series will be packed with tales of terror, bringing together the new and the familiar, the unusual and the unexpected.”

For information, you should check out their submissions guidelines here.

  • Deadline: September 20, 2020
  • Length: 2,000-4,000 words are most likely to succeed; will read slightly outside this range
  • Pay: $0.08 per word
art fingers foggy hand for Ghost theme in September 2020

Reckoning 5: Environmental Justice

Reckoning 5 wants creative writing about environmental justice. Here’s what the guidelines say:

“Fiction preferably at least a tiny bit speculative, nonfiction preferably more creative than journalistic, poetry tending towards the narrative and preferably with some thematic heft. But the heart of what we want is your searingly personal, visceral, idiosyncratic understanding of the world and the people in it as it has been, as it is, as it will be, as it could be, as a consequence of humanity’s relationship with the earth.”

They actively seek work from Indigenous, person of color, queer, and transgender writers and artists. Their website has specific details of the prose and poetry editors want for this issue. You can check out their general guidelines here and can submit your work here.

  • Deadline: September 22, 2020
  • Length: Up to 20,000 words for prose; 3-5 poems
  • Pay: $0.08 per word for prose; $30 per page for poetry; minimum $25 per piece of art

Future Science Fiction Digest: Envision the future of the East Asia region in an optimistic, positive way

For this themed issue, their guidelines say:

“For this call we’re seeking science fiction stories that envision the future of the East Asia region in an optimistic, positive way. No dystopias, please. You can interpret this widely, but the theme has to be at the core of the story. It isn’t enough that the story be merely set in the region.”

This submission call is open to all authors. Click here to check out their submissions guidelines.

  • Deadline: September 30, 2020
  • Length: 500-10,000 words (under 5,000 words strongly preferred
  • Pay: $0.08 per word (split between author and translator in case of translations)

Other Worlds Ink: Fix the World

For this anthology, Other Worlds Ink is looking for stories that depict a (near) future Earth better than this one. Their guidelines say:

“Show us a world post-climate change, where we made peace with the planet. Or a world where we moved past racism and into a broader understanding of the connectedness of all the races of humanity. How about one where gender no longer matters? Or where borders are no more. We’re not looking for preachy. We want realistic depictions of the Earth that could be, even it’s not perfect. Whatever fix you choose does not have to be the main plot – in fact, it’s probably better if it isn’t. But it should be very clear in the story – how we got from here to there.”

You can learn more about the theme and the submission guidelines here.

  • Deadline: September 30, 2020
  • Length: 5,000-15,000 words
  • Pay: $75-125

Tyche Books: Water – Selkies, Sirens, and Sea Monsters

The editor wants the following for its fourth and final volume of an elemental anthology series:

“Stories about shapeshifting selkies, deceptively beautiful sirens, all the monsters of the deep and any other magical water creature you can imagine—water dragons, naiads, kappa, kelpies… If it’s a magical being associated with water, I want to read about it.”

You can click here to submit.

  • Deadline: September 30, 2020
  • Length: Up to 7,500 words
  • Pay: C$50 for stories; C$20 for poems
woman wearing mermaid costume for mermaid them September 2020

Krampus Tales: A Killer Anthology

They want horror stories, but not just any horror stories. Krampus Tales wants ones set during the holiday season. In the words of the editors, this is what they’re looking for:

“The holidays have lost their cheer. Evergreen boughs hang brown and brittle. Sweets taste bitter. The little ones are restless and will not sleep. There’s something stirring in the dark, but only the bravest writers will explore what horrors stalk across the rooftops. It could be a tempestuous ghost seeking its stolen past. Maybe it’s a malevolent shadow come for its sworn promises.”

You can find the full details here.

  • Deadline: September 30, 2020
  • Length: 6,000-9,000 words
  • Pay: $75

Tamarack: Youth Blog – Collaboration, Neighbourhoods, Community Change, Leadership

The Tamarack Institute develops and supports collaborative strategies that engage citizens and institutions to solve major community issues across Canada and beyond.

They want to include youth blogs in their bi-monthly publication. They want young writers (ages 15 to 30) to submit original blogs, interviews, poems, personal stories, illustrations, or photo essays that have a focus on collaboration, neighborhoods, community change, and leadership.

Tamarack is looking to feature the work of 10 youth in its bi-monthly newsletter and will accept up to three submissions per person until March 2021. Although they welcome international perspectives, preference will be given to the youth who live in Canada.

You can get the full details here.

  • Deadline: September 30, 2020
  • Length: Unspecified
  • Pay: C$60

The Evil Cookie Publishing: Bludgeon Tools – Tool Infused Splatterpunk Anthology

The Evil Cookie publishes horror anthologies. To give you an idea of what the publisher is looking for, their tagline is ‘Anthologies with All the Guts n’ Gory.’ All stories must contain elements of splatterpunk. You can find all of the submission information at the bottom of the page, which you can access here.

  • Deadline: October 1, 2020
  • Length: Up to 3,000 words
  • Pay: $0.03 per word

The Last Line

The Last Line wants fiction that ends with a pre-set last line, and writers can send more than one submission. The story has to end with this line for the forthcoming issue: Jordan looked me in the eye and said, “I trust you.”

For more information, click here.

  • Deadline: October 1, 2020
  • Length: 300-5,000 words
  • Pay: $20-40

Zombie Pirate Publishing: Pirates of the Empyrean

They want science fiction, fantasy, speculative fiction, or steampunk stories featuring pirates – tales of swashbuckling adventure set against space, sky, or sea. You can find additional information here.

Deadline: October 5, 2020
Length: 2,000-7,000 words
Pay: $10

pirate decor for pirate themed submission for September 2020

Horroraddicts.net: Haunts and Hellions, a Gothic Romance Anthology

Here’s what the editors have to say about the anthology:

“Although we crave gothic romance style, don’t feel the need to paint a damsel in distress. The woman may certainly be the one who saves the day. We are also open to LBGTQ love stories. The main plot should be horror and romance. We don’t like stories written specifically with social or political agendas. Sensual or passionate stories are acceptable, but we don’t want erotica or sexually-based stories.”

All stories should contain an overwhelming sense of menace and dread, inclement weather, a supernatural horror being or entity, be set in a spooky location, and placed between 1700 and 1940.

You can learn more about what the editors are looking for here.

  • Deadline: October 31, 2020
  • Length: 2,000-5,000 words
  • Pay: $10

Cliffhanger: Amateur Magazine of Adventure and Daring

In their first call for submissions, Cliffhanger is looking for adventure fiction stories. Here’s what their guidelines say:

“The scope of adventure fiction is broad [… and] places emphasis on protagonists with agency, feats of daring, and the sense of discovery. These traits are not necessarily confined by time or place, though we are interested in fiction grounded to Earth as a setting. Neither does adventure fiction avoid conflict with science or the supernatural, so the weird is welcome. Ancient curses, weird science, the lost magics of fallen civilizations, are all there to find and celebrate in this genre.”

You can get the full details here.

  • Deadline: December 5, 2020
  • Length: 5,000-7,000 words (6,000 preferred)
  • Pay: $10

Newfound: Inner Spaces

Newfound explores how place shapes identity, imagination, and understanding. They are reading fiction (including flash and novel excerpts), creative nonfiction, poetry, reviews, translations, and visual art.

For the ‘Inner Spaces’ theme, their guidelines say:

“How well do you know yourself? How does a person navigate the places inside themselves? Does self knowledge come through excavation of the past? Conflict? Difference? We want to investigate all aspects of this theme in our spring 2021 issue. Tell us about an intrapersonal experience or a delve into identity. Immerse us in subjective and intersecting worlds.”

They are also reading unthemed work and are hosting a poetry competition (there’s a fee). The journal is not accepting general poetry submission currently.

You can learn more about their submission guidelines here and can submit your work here.

  • Deadline: December 21, 2020, for the themed issue; May 15, 2021, for unthemed
  • Length: Up to 6,000 words for fiction, up to 40 pages for nonfiction,
  • Pay: $25

Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing: Lost Contact

Perpetual Motion Machine is currently collecting work for a horror fiction anthology. Their guidelines say:

“To lose contact…does that bring to mind something physical, something intangible? Does it give you a sense of isolation or bring to mind…aliens, maybe? Being stranded? Lost? I think, in the times we live in right now, the phrase “Lost Contact” might mean a whole heck of a lot to all of us, and we want to see what you make of it.”

Writers are free to interpret the theme as they like, though they will benefit if they include some kind of technology. Stories should also be deeply rooted in the horror genre. For more information, click here.

  • Deadline: December 31, 2020
  • Length: 1,000-7,000 words
  • Pay: $0.05 per word
abstract black and white blur book

Competitions Looking for Themed Submissions for September 2020

The following writing competitions do not charge entry fees and pay cash prizes.

On the Premises: Ooh, that smell

Their guidelines say:

“There are few things as evocative as scent. For this contest, write a creative, compelling, well-crafted story between 1,000 and 5,000 words long in which either a specific scent, or the sense of smell in general, is important to the story.”

They do not want children’s fiction, exploitative sex, over-the-top gross-out horror or stories that are obvious parodies of existing fictional worlds or characters created by other authors. You can check out their website here and find the full contest details here.

  • Value: $220, $160, $120, $60
  • Deadline: September 4, 2020
  • Open for: All writers

Shoreline of Infinity Flash Fiction Competition: Funny Science Fiction Stories

Shoreline wants funny science fiction stories of up to 1,000 words. Writers can submit up to two tales, and you can find the rest of the contest details here.

  • Value: £50; runners-up get a digital subscription to the magazine
  • Deadline: September 12, 2020
  • Open for: All writers

Green Stories Writing Competition: Stories for Children

They want tales for children. There are two categories with corresponding suggested length: preschool and illustrated books (for two to six-year-olds) up to 1,000 words; for young readers category (ages seven to 11), up to 2,500 words.

All submissions must be in English and conform to Green Stories’s criteria. All stories must show a positive vision of what a sustainable society might look like or, in some way, smuggle in green solutions, policies, and characters in the context of an otherwise mainstream story.

Apart from the cash prizes, literary agent Curtis Brown will read the top entries and consider any writers suitable for representation. You can get the full contest details here.

  • Value: £200 for best pre-school or illustrated book for to two to six-year-olds and £200 for best novel in young reader’s category
  • Deadline: September 14, 2020
  • Open for: All writers

Gulf Coast: The Toni Beauchamp Prize in Critical Art Writing

This prize is for critical art writing of up to 1,500 words. The tale can be unpublished or published in the last year. Gulf Coast accepts various creative approaches and formats to writing on the visual arts, including exhibition reviews, thematic essays, and scholarly essays. They also have other contests open now, which charge a fee.

For more details and to check out the other contests, click here.

  • Value: $3,000; two prizes of $1,000 each
  • Deadline: September 15, 2020
  • Open for: Unspecified

The QueryLetter.com Writing Contest

They want a book blurb of 100 words or fewer. However, the book has to be an imaginary one. Their guidelines say:

“Write and submit a back cover blurb of 100 words or fewer that sets the stage for a novel, establishes the characters, and raises the stakes in a way that makes readers want to find out more.”

Writers can send more than one entry. You can find the full details here.

  • Value: $500
  • Deadline: 15 September 2020
  • Open for: All writers
photo of person holding book

Penguin Random House UK: Harvill Secker Young Translators’ Prize

This contest is for translators aged 18 to 34 years, who have had no more than one full-length translation published. This year, the focus language is Japanese, and entrants will translate the short story ‘Yakyoku’ by Yusho Takiguchi into English.

Submissions have to be sent via post, and you can find out more about the contest and submission details here.

  • Value: £1,000, mentorship
  • Deadline: September 16, 2020
  • Open for: Translators of Japanese

Casa Africa Essay Prize: Climate Change in Africa

Casa Africa wants writers to submit 15,000 to 20,000-word essays on ‘Climate change in Africa.’ The prize is open to all writers and is now in its 12th year. You can find all of the contest details here.

  • Value: €2,000
  • Deadline: September 17, 2020
  • Open for: All writers

Ayn Rand Institute: Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest

This contest is an international essay contest for 12th graders, college undergraduates, and graduate students. The students write an 800 to 1,600-word essay on one of three specific topics centered around Ayn Rand’s novel, Atlas Shrugged.

You can get the full details here. (Please pay special attention to the author rights section and consider them before you submit.)

  • Value: $25,000, $2,500, $500, $100
  • Deadline: September 21, 2020
  • Open for: All 12th graders, college undergraduates and graduate students

The Writers College: My Writing Journey Competition

They want a 600-word piece on ‘The best writing tip I’ve ever received.’ The contest is open to writers all over the world. You can find the full contest details here.

  • Value: AU$200 or £100
  • Deadline: September 30, 2020
  • Open for: All writers

Dzanc Books Diverse Voices Prize

Dzanc wants book-length manuscripts of fiction or nonfiction by writers from minority, underrepresented, or marginalized communities only. Novels, short story collections, memoir, essay collections, and cross-genre works are all welcome.

This contest is open to new, upcoming, and established writers alike. They also have other contests for writers, but those have entry fees. You can submit your entries here and here.

  • Value: $3,000 advance
  • Deadline: September 30, 2020
  • Open for: Writers from minority, underrepresented, or marginalized communities

The Philosophy Essay Prize: Knowledge, Truth and Power in an Online World

Each year the Royal Institute holds an essay prize competition. The winner will receive a cash prize, and their essay will be published in Philosophy, which publishes articles on all areas of philosophy.

This year’s topic is ‘Knowledge, Truth, and Power in an Online World.’ All entries are submissions to Philosophy, and several may be published. In exceptional circumstances, the prize may be awarded jointly, in which case the financial component will be divided.

Sounds interesting? You can find all the contest ad submission details here and here.

  • Value: £2,500
  • Deadline: October 1, 2020
  • Open for: Unspecified

The Bergen International Essay Competition: My generation

This international essay contest is for writers under 30 years. The Bergen International Literary Festival for nonfiction and fiction is held in February every year in Bergen, Norway.

Essays should be on the theme of ‘my generation’ and contain up to 2,000 words. The piece can be written in any language, but a translation into English must be provided with the original text. You can find the full submission details here.

  • Value: €2,500; €500 for three runners-up
  • Deadline: October 1, 2020
  • Open for: Writers under 30

Good luck to all of you who submit! I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you.

And if you do get accepted, please let me know. I’d love to read your work and pass it along to a friend.

Also, if you want to hear about my wedding and honeymoon, you should sign up for my newsletter – I’m sharing some pictures. You will also get some publishing opportunities I don’t post on the blog, and a peek at what I’m reading.

You can sign up here:


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Stay safe, everyone.

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.


4 Responses

    1. You’re welcome! 😊 You totally should get back into the short story writing life! And if you ever need to bounce ideas off of someone (among other things), feel free to contact me! I’d love to help if I can.

      1. Thank you, Dani. In 2020, I’ve been mostly focused on writing 10 minute plays (I got one performed in February), and this summer I focused on formal poetry (I’m hopeful two will be published soon.)

        But seasons change, and I do want to return to short fiction at some point.

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