PodCastle is always looking for quality fiction. If you’re a writer with a speculative short story that you’d like to hear narrated by one of our performers, we’d like to see it.
What We Want
PodCastle is looking for fantasy stories. We’re open to all the sub-genres of fantasy, from magical realism to urban fantasy to slipstream to high fantasy, and everything in between. Fantastical or non-real content should be meaningful to the story.
If you have a science fiction story, please send it to our sister podcast Escape Pod. Horror fiction should be directed to Pseudopod. The dividing line between horror and fantasy can be tricky. We at PodCastle are open to dark fantasy. We don’t object to your trying us either before or after Pseudopod, if the story seems to suit both aesthetics.
We’re primarily interested in two lengths of fiction, which we’ve dubbed (somewhat arbitrarily) “short fiction” and “flash fiction.”
Short Fiction: Most of our weekly stories will fall between about 2,000 and 6,000 words. Shorter stories would be overwhelmed by the commentary before and after the stories. Longer stories are difficult to fit into our upper time limit (defined rigorously as “The length of a morning commute”). We may run longer stories, but it will be a harder sell. We pay $100 for short fiction at this length.
Flash Fiction: We will sometimes podcast short five-to-ten minute “bonus” pieces between our weekly main episodes. These stories can be up to 1,000 words. Flash pieces are frequently quirkier and more experimental than our weekly features. We pay $20 for flash fiction.
For stories between 1,000 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.
We prefer reprints, or works with a prior publication credit. We define “publication” as any venue that paid you money for your work, online or on paper. Unpublished work will be considered as well, but if your story’s good enough for us to buy it, it’s probably good enough to sell to another market first.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 to get two audiences and two checks?
Multiple and Simultaneous Submissions
We accept simultaneous submissions (sending a story to us and to one or more other markets at the same time), but appreciate being advised that the story is under consideration elsewhere. Please do not send multiple submissions (sending more than one story at a time to us) unless you have been told that it is acceptable for you to do so. This extends to all of the Escape Artists podcasts as a group (Escape Pod, PodCastle, and Pseudopod). When submitting to one Escape Artists podcast, please wait to hear back before submitting the same story to another.
We are an audio magazine. Our audience can’t skim past the boring parts. While we appreciate beautiful stories, those that feature beautiful language at the expense of plot may not translate well. Ideally, fiction should have strong pacing, well-defined characters, engaging dialogue, clear action, and still be beautiful. Above all, we’re looking for stories that are fun to listen to. Humor is encouraged.
Podcastle hopes to publish fiction reflecting the full range of settings and tropes found in fantasy fiction. We’d particularly like to see more stories set outside America, and stories that feature characters who represent a range of backgrounds and ethnicities.
We will not balk at sexual content or strong language, but if your story is primarily erotic or scatological in nature, it may not be for us. Consider Open Source Sex for the former or satellite radio for the latter.
Preparing Stories for Submission
We accept stories in e-mail, in plain text format, at the address email@example.com.
We don’t want Word files, PDF files, scanned images of a book, or sound files of you reading the story. Messages with such attachments will get bounced. We will accept messages that are HTML formatted, but if you know how to turn it off, we prefer plain text.
Send your story from the e-mail address at which you want us to correspond with you. Otherwise, it’s likely our correspondence will go astray.
The Subject line of your email should read: “Submission: [Title of Your Story].” (Replace the text within the brackets with the title of your story.) E-mails with different subject lines may be misfiled and go astray.
In the body of the message, include the following information:
1. Your real name. (You can use a pseudonym for the byline, but we need to know who’s legally offering us this story and to whom the check should be written.)
2. Your mailing address. (If you don’t give it to us, we’ll need to pay you by PayPal.)
3. A cover letter, listing salient workshops and degrees, and your three to five most recent publications (if you have them). Also, provide information about the publishing history of the piece. Has it been published before? If so, where? Is there anything we need to know about the availability of audio rights?
4. The word count of the story, rounded to the nearest hundred words.
5. The story’s byline. (Omit if it’s your legal name.)
6. The text of the story. Use single spacing with blank lines between paragraphs and _underscores_ for emphasis.
Do not include:
1. A description or synopsis of your story. Your work has to stand on its own, a pitch won’t help you sell it to us, and we’d rather read it as the audience will receive it—without any preconceptions.
2. Biographical information about yourself. The publishing history of the story you’re submitting and a few other publishing credits (if you have them and want to include them) are all that’s necessary. If you don’t have any other publishing credits, no problem, just leave that out.
3. Images or other attached files.
4. Reviews (or excerpts of reviews) of the story you’re submitting, or any other publications of yours.
The resulting cover letter seems curt and stripped down, but it’s really the most helpful format—it gives us the information we need as quickly and efficiently as possible without getting in the way of our appreciating your story.
203 N Somewhere Ave
Baltimore, MD 21223
I would like to submit my 6,200 word fantasy story “The Best Fantasy Story Ever (About Rainbows)” for your podcast. My work has appeared in _Rainbow Annual 2003_ and _The Rainbow Journal_. “The Best Fantasy
Story Ever (About Rainbows)” was published in the May, 2007 issue of _Rainbows!_, and was reprinted in _Year’s Best Rainbow Stories_. Audio rights are available.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
The Best Fantasy Story Ever (About Rainbows)
by Amity Bilgewhacker
I never doubted. Until I met Roy. “Mr. Biv,” I said, politely, meeting him for the first time, but he interrupted me, grinned and shook my hand firmly and told me to call him by his first name.
No, until I met Roy, I never doubted. Thinking back, now, I wish I had never met him. Never heard him ask, in a voice the whole room could hear, “I mean, seriously, blue I buy, violet, that’s just another word for purple. But _indigo_? It’s just dark blue!”
Just dark blue! Ridiculous!
But the seed was planted. For days I found the uncomfortable idea whispering quietly at the back of my mind. Were there, in fact, only _six_ colors in the rainbow, and not the official seven?
Once again, the submissions address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Stories sent to other addresses may not be considered.
Our Process of Consideration
Once you’ve sent us your story, we will review it and respond to you via e-mail. Feel free to query if you have not received a response within two months. Occasional slush updates will be posted at the PodCastle blog. Periodically, the editors will post there to advise submitters of progress and delays.
If we accept your story, we’ll send you a contract as a PDF file in e-mail. You will sign it and send it back to us via e-mail (after scanning it), fax, or postal mail. Payment will come via check or Pay Pal, at a rate of $100 for short fiction and $20 for flash fiction.
By sending us your story you understand and agree that:
1. You are the original creator of the work submitted to us;
2. You are the copyright holder of the work;
3. You are not prohibited by any prior agreement from the transfer of non-exclusive electronic and audio rights to the work;
4. All information in the contact and cover sections of your e-mail is accurate and truthful;
5. 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.
PodCastle’s audio files are released 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 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.
For further discussion of Creative Commons licensing, see the Escape Pod guidelines. If you are concerned about the licensing, we prefer that you research and make your decision before submitting.
In case you’re wondering whether you currently have audio rights to your stories: unless you’re doing work-for-hire for a game company, all reputable SF/F magazines of which we’re aware acquire serial print rights, often with non-exclusive electronic or anthology options. 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.
Still got questions?
If you have questions, comments, suggestions, or criticism (but not stories) send them to our staff at email@example.com. 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!
Anna Schwind and Dave Thompson, Editors
Ann Leckie, Associate Editor
and editorial staff