Submissions open April 1st, but Crossed Genres folks decided to post the guidelines first!
Who can submit
We welcome stories by authors from all walks of life. We especially encourage submissions from members of marginalized groups within the speculative fiction community, including (but not limited to) people of color; people who are not from or living in the U.S.A.; QUILTBAG and GSM people; people with disabilities, chronic illness, or mental illness; and atheists, agnostics, and members of religious minorities. The protagonists of your story do not have to mirror your own heritage, identities, beliefs, or experiences.
We also especially encourage short story submissions from people who don’t usually write in this format, including poets, playwrights, essayists and authors of historical fiction and historical romance.
Submission deadline and publication schedule
All submissions are due July 31, 2013. If it’s still July 31 in your time zone, you’re good. Acceptance notices will be sent by October 1. The anthology is tentatively slated for a February 2014 release.
Pay and rights
We pay USD 5¢/word for global English first publication rights in print and digital format. The author retains copyright. Payment is upon publication.
- Length: 3000-7000 words (FIRM)
- Your story must be set between the years 1400 and 1920 C.E., and take place primarily in our world or an alternate historical version of our world. (Travel to other worlds, other dimensions, Fairyland, the afterlife, etc. is fine but should not be the focus.)
- Your protagonists must be people who were marginalized in their time and place. By “marginalized” we mean that they belong to one or more groups of people that were categorically, systematically deprived of rights and/or economic power. Examples in most times and places include enslaved people, indigenous people, queer people, laborers, women, people with disabilities, the very young and very old, and people who do not share the local dominant religion, language, or ethnicity. Many people belong to multiple marginalized groups, and many are marginalized in some ways and privileged in others. Your story should acknowledge the complexity and intersectionality of marginalization.
- Your story must contain a significant element of science fiction, fantasy, horror, or the weird, without which the story would not work or would be a substantially different story.
- All submissions must be in English.
We will not accept any story containing the following:
- Gratuitous or titillating depictions of violence.
- Gratuitous descriptions of bodies or body parts, or people described only in objectifying ways.
- Horror that relies on shocking or grossing out the reader.
- Stories that are all about how someone non-marginalized became an enlightened champion of marginalized people.
- A protagonist from a societally or technologically powerful group who happens to be temporarily or situationally powerless (e.g. a peasant who’s really a prince, a representative of the British East India Company shipwrecked on Ceylon).
- Depictions of marginalized people as being doomed to hopeless misery.
- Depiction of any group, no matter how powerful, as universally, inherently, or irredeemably evil.
Handle with care
If you decide to incorporate one or more of the following elements, please do so with caution and awareness of the ways that they can be problematic or difficult to write about.
- Violence, particularly sexual violence. We recognize that sexual violence is frequently used as a weapon against marginalized people, so we are not issuing a blanket prohibition against it, but please consider very carefully whether you need to include it in your story; and if you decide that you do, please consider very very carefully whether your story needs to show the violent act itself.
- Consensual sexual encounters. We’re not averse to sexual or erotic content, but it needs to further the story and incorporate awareness of the ways real-world power relationships affect sexual behavior and decision-making.
- Stereotypes and clichés.
- Alternate history that drops magic powers or anachronistic technology into a historical setting.
- A protagonist who is the only marginalized person in the story.
- Revenge fantasies.
- A setting that’s already very commonly used in speculative fiction, especially one that’s often associated with stories featuring members of privileged/dominant/colonizing groups, e.g. Victorian England, the American “Wild West”.
What we do want
Your story doesn’t need to have all these elements, but we’re especially interested in stories that have at least some of them.
- Accurate depictions of life on the margins.
- Thoughtful, sensitive incorporation of religion, superstition, and folklore.
- Depictions of historically accurate societal attitudes in the context of an authorial voice that does not condone or espouse bigotry. (For example, your female characters will probably have to deal with societal sexism, but your descriptions of them should not rely on sexist stereotypes.)
- An understanding of how economic, technological, political, and religious influences shape a time and place, especially in alternate historical settings.
- Research bibliographies and suggestions for further reading.
- Integration of friendships, family relationships, and community into the story.
- Protagonists who make conscious choices and take conscious action.
- Side characters who are real people.
- Personal triumphs and successes.
- Making us laugh, think, cheer, and weep.
We’ll make the submissions form available on Monday and post a link here. Again, the deadline for submissions will be July 31!