Pseudopod is always looking for quality fiction to feed our listeners. If you’re a writer with a short horror story that you’d like to hear narrated by one of our talented performers, we’d like to see it. Probably.
What We Want
Pseudopod is a genre magazine in audio form. We’re looking for horror: dark, weird fiction. We run the spectrum from grim realism or crime drama, to magic-realism, to blatantly supernatural dark fantasy. We publish highly literary stories reminiscent of Poe or Lovecraft as well as vulgar shock-value pulp fiction. We don’t split hairs about genre definitions, and we do not observe any taboos about what kind of content can appear in our stories. Originality demands that you’re better off avoiding vampires, zombies, and other recognizable horror tropes unless you have put a very unique spin on them. What matters most is that the stories are dark and compelling.
Since we’re an audio magazine, our audience can’t skim past the boring parts, so stories with beautiful language at the expense of plot don’t translate well. We’re looking for fiction with strong pacing, well-defined characters, engaging dialogue, and clear action. It can be beautiful too, if you’ve got all those other bases covered.
Dark humor is just fine, and we run it on occasion; but we are more interested in tragedy than comedy, and comedy is better received the more sick and morbid it is. Above all, we want stories that make us think, that stick with us, that make us catch ourselves checking the locks a second time before bed.
Holiday-themed stories (regardless of which holiday) are ideally submitted 4-5 months prior to the holiday in question. The same guideline applies if you have a book coming out soon and want to publish a short story with us to coincide with its release, and we’re always happy to delay publishing if the resulting timing is better for author promotion. (Although for a sure bet, you can always just grease our palms with a sponsorship two months beforehand — contact email@example.com.)
Pseudopod welcomes submissions from writers of all backgrounds. We are especially interested in seeing more submissions from people of backgrounds that have been historically underrepresented or excluded from traditional publishing, including, but not limited to, women, people of color, LGBTQ or non-binary gender people, persons with disabilities, members of religious minorities, and people from outside the United States. Our goal is to publish horror that reflects the diversity of the human race, so we strongly encourage submissions from these or any other underrepresented groups.
We’re primarily interested in two lengths of fiction, which we’ve somewhat arbitrarily dubbed “short fiction” and “flash fiction”.
Short Fiction: This is the heart of our weekly podcast. We want short stories between about 2,000 and 6,000 words; we are quite hesitant to produce stories any longer than that, although we may occasionally consider exceptional stories as long as 7,500 words. Anything longer than that will not be considered at all. (You are almost certainly better off cutting it down to 6,000 or less, even if it has been published previously at a greater length. The longer a story is, the more brilliant it needs to be to sustain audience interest in audio, and Pseudopod stories in particular tend to be no longer than 5,000 words as a rule.) We currently pay $100 for short fiction at this length.
Flash Fiction: We sometimes podcast short five-to-ten minute “bonus” pieces between our weekly main episodes. For this we’re looking at fiction under 1,500 words, with a sweet spot between 500 and 1000 words. Yes, that’s really really short. That’s the point. Our flash pieces are frequently quirkier and more experimental than our weekly features. We pay $20 for flash fiction.
If you have a story between 1,500 and 2,000 words, we’ll make a judgment call, based on whether we think the story would work better as a featured story or a bonus. But most of the time we’ll buy it as flash fiction.
We do not discriminate between previously published and unpublished works. We’re an audio market, and we buy nonexclusive rights, so it doesn’t hurt us if a story has previously appeared in another market. In fact, we encourage new authors to send their work to other markets first, and then send it to us for audio rights after the story has appeared. You’re welcome to give us first dibs on anything you like, but consider: if your story’s good enough for us to buy it, it’s probably good enough to sell to another market first. Why not try that, and get two audiences and two checks?
If the text of the work is currently available online for free, that’s great! Let us know in your cover letter so we can link to it in the web post if we publish your story.
Multiple and Simultaneous Submissions
We do not accept multiple submissions. Please, one story at a time! Unless you’re specifically told otherwise, this is the rule at every fiction market.
We do consider simultaneous submissions (a story sent to us as well as one or more other markets at the same time), but we appreciate being advised that the story is under consideration elsewhere. In the event it is accepted by us as well as the other market(s), you’ll just need to let the editor know in response to your acceptance letter what other market(s) are slated to publish it and when. That gives us the chance to mention the fact in the intro to the story. We will also try to delay publication so as not to “scoop” the other market(s) before the publication date over there, but it will be up to you to communicate with the other market(s) to find out whether they insist on this or not. Unless you tell us so, we will consider delaying publication to be optional on our part. (In our experience, since we use audio format most other markets don’t seem to care one way or the other, and even appreciate it if we go live with it around the same time or sooner because it acts as publicity for them. But you never know, and should always check. For our part, though, we have no strong preference either way.)
The only exception to this is simultaneous submission of a single story to multiple Escape Artists podcasts (Escape Pod, PodCastle, and Pseudopod), which we ask that you avoid. When submitting to one Escape Artists podcast, please wait to hear back about it before submitting the same story to another.
How We Want It
From: Edgar Allen Poe Date: Dec 13, 1889 Subject: Submission: The Pit and the Pendulum To: firstname.lastname@example.org Dear Pseudopod: I would like to submit my horror story "The Pit and the Pendulum" for your podcast. My work has appeared in numerous online and print venues including _The Norton Anthology of Literature_, the Project Gutenberg Web site (http://www.gutenberg.org), and _The Simpsons Halloween Special_. This particular work is in the public domain since it was first published over a century ago, and all rights are available. It has previously been adapted into a shockingly strange movie by Roger Corman. Thank you for your time and consideration. Edgar Poe email@example.com 6200 Words The Pit and the Pendulum By Edgar Allen Poe I was sick -- sick unto death with that long agony; and when they at length unbound me, and I was permitted to sit, I felt that my senses were leaving me. The sentence -- the dread sentence of death -- was the last of distinct accentuation which reached my ears. After that, the sound of the inquisitorial voices seemed merged in one dreamy indeterminate hum. It conveyed to my soul the idea of _revolution_ -- perhaps from its association in fancy with the burr of a mill-wheel. This only for a brief period; for presently I heard no more. [. . .]
We accept stories in plain text pasted into the body of an email, sent to the address firstname.lastname@example.org. We don’t want Word files, PDF files, scanned images of a book, or sound files of you reading the story. Messages with any such attachments will probably get bounced. We will accept messages that are HTML formatted, but if you know how to turn it off, we greatly prefer plain text. Send it from the email address to which you want us to send correspondence to you!
Please be sure to include the word “submission” AND the title of the story in the Subject: line of the message. Most of our workflow involves bouncing your email message from one folder to another, and we use the email subject to identify the story. A subject like “story submission” doesn’t tell us anything we don’t already know.
In the body of the message, we want:
- Your name. (Your real name. The story can have a different byline, and we’ll credit that byline in public, but we need to know who’s legally offering us this story and to whom the check should be written.)
- A cover statement briefly giving us your publication credits (your top five or six publications at most), and in particular telling us whether this story has been published before or adapted into audio. If there’s anything we need to know about available rights, tell us that too. If the full text of the story is available online, that’s great — let us know what the URL is so we can link to it.
- The word count of the story, rounded to the nearest hundred words. Don’t go nuts over which word count method to use, or whether to round up or down. We pay flat rate; we really don’t care. We just want a ballpark.
- The title of the story.
- The story’s byline.
- The text of the story. Use single spacing, with blank lines between paragraphs and _underscores_ or *asterisks* (or whatever) for emphasis.
Once again, that address is email@example.com. Any stories sent to any other address will be trashed, most likely without a response.
(The rest of these guidelines are basically just legalese.)
By sending us your story you understand and agree that:
- You are the original creator of the work submitted to us;
- You are the copyright holder of the work;
- You are not prohibited by any prior agreement from the transfer of non-exclusive electronic and audio rights to the work;
- All information in the contact and cover sections of your email is accurate and truthful;
- You accept sole responsibility for any false statements or encumbrances upon rights not disclosed to us.
If we buy your story we’ll send you a contract, and you’ll be bound to all of the above.
Oh, and in case you’re wondering whether you have audio rights to your stories: unless you’re doing work-for-hire for a game company, all reputable speculative fiction magazines of which we’re aware acquire serial print rights, often with non-exclusive electronic or anthology options. Some online markets may insist on electronic exclusivity for a certain period of time, and if so, you can’t publish it with us until after that period ends. However, we know of no regular short fiction market that contracts for exclusive audio rights. That doesn’t mean it can’t happen; always check your contracts.
What We Do With It
Once you’ve sent us your story, we will review it and respond to you via email in about two months. If it takes longer than that, please query.
If we decide we’d like it for our podcast, we’ll send you a contract as a PDF file in email. You will sign it and send it back to us either via email (after scanning it), fax, or postal mail. Then we’ll pay you via check or PayPal, whichever you indicated on the last page of the contract, and we’ll start producing.
During the production process we may contact you with questions about the story, its background, or pronunciations. We hope and expect that you’ll be available to help us, as a good performance makes all of us look good. Unfortunately, as everything we do is on a somewhat fluid schedule, we usually can’t give you an accurate timetable of when your story will appear in the podcast.
What the World Does With It
The audio files Pseudopod produces are released under a Creative Commons license. Specifically, we use the Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 license. Briefly, this means that the entire world has permission to distribute the podcast for free, provided they give credit for it, don’t try to make money off of it, and don’t change it in any way. Transcribing it, extracting portions from it beyond fair use, and mashing it up are all prohibited. This license applies only to our audio performance of your work, for which we’ve contracted and paid you. It does not apply to your story itself; you retain your copyright and all rights to any other use of the story.
We’ve had some questions about this from the writing community, so we’d like to make our reasoning clear. We know that Creative Commons licensing is scary to many writers, and it’s certainly a radical break from traditional rights that expire after a period of time. Our take is this: when we create a podcast, we are putting an MP3 file on the Web. That MP3 file is going to get downloaded and copied onto thousands of hard drives, CDs, iPods, and other portable devices across the world. That’s the point. We want people to listen to it. But once you’ve done that, you can’t take that file back. There is no way to delete the file everywhere it exists. There are some highly fallible ways to lock things down, but DRM sucks, and even if we believed in it it’s too complicated for us to implement.
So from a purely practical perspective, we can’t make our content expire. And we can’t stop people from copying our files, nor should we. Given that reality, why not give our listeners the full legal right to do what’s totally natural for an audio file (copy it, share it with people, and listen to it whenever they want), but make equally clear to them what they can’t do (share the story outside the podcast, or alter it in any way at all)? That’s our reason for the Creative Commons license. We’re not trying to plant a philosophical flag in the ground here; we’re just trying to reflect reality.
We hope you’ll agree with our reasons and choose to share your story with us. If you don’t, then we’re deeply sorry, but we feel it’s better that you know this now, before you make the decision to submit.
If you have questions, comments, suggestions, or criticism (but not stories) send them to our staff at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll do our best to get back to you within a few days.
Thanks very much for your time, and we look forward to reading — and hopefully speaking — what you’ve got!