Submission Guidelines

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. You can send it to us through our submittable portal.

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.

More tips here.

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 al@escapeartists.net.)

Diversity

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.

Payment and Rights

We pay the pro rate of $.06/word for original fiction up to a cap of 6,000 words, $100 flat rate for reprints, and $20 flat rate for flash fiction (stories below 1500 words).

PseudoPod buys nonexclusive audio rights, and nonexclusive electronic rights to distribute the audio file under a Creative Commons license.

Specifically, we use the Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives license. Briefly, this means that the entire world has permission to distribute the audio files 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 that exceed 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.

Length

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 1,500 and 6,000 words. The sweet spot is around 4,500 words which is close to 30 minutes of story.

Flash Fiction: We podcast, approximately quarterly, Flash on the Borderlands episodes that contain three flash stories with a common theme. Occasionally, we run 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.

Reprints

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. 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; if you submit more than one story everything after the first will be rejected. Simultaneous submissions are acceptable. Please check the box on the submissions form to let us know that you are submitting this to multiple markets simultaneously.

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.

Format and Cover Letter

Prepare your manuscript in something approximating Standard Manuscript Format formatted in .rtf, .doc, .docx, and .odt.

In your cover letter, please include your legal name, byline (if different from your legal name), and the story’s approximate word count and publication history. If you have any previous publications, feel free to list the most recent three, but this is optional and won’t affect your story’s consideration.

Send us your story through our submittable portal. Once you’ve sent us your story, you will get an automated confirmation via email. Please query if you have not received this confirmation within 24 hours. After three months, if you haven’t received a response, feel free to query by email.

How We Want It

Example:


From: Edgar Allen Poe
Date: Dec 13, 1889
Title: The Pit and the Pendulum

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
poeman@gmail.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.  [. . .]

 


(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.

Any questions?

If you have questions, comments, suggestions, or criticism (but not stories) send them to our staff at editor@pseudopod.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!