Science Fiction & Fantasy

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Writers’ Guidelines

Current Submission Period: Lightspeed will be open to submissions June 1 – July 15, 2015.

Instructions for submitting to Lightspeed follow. Please read everything on this page and read the magazine before submitting.

Submission Procedures for Short Fiction

Instructions: All fiction must be submitted through our Moksha online submission system, located at lightspeedmagazine.com/submissions. Please do not email your submissions. If one of the Submission Type options is grayed out, that means we are currently closed to that Submission Type.

Guidelines: Lightspeed is seeking original science fiction and fantasy stories. All types of science fiction and fantasy are welcome. No subject should be considered off-limits, and we encourage writers to take chances with their fiction and push the envelope. We do not accept simultaneous submissions or multiple submissions. You may submit one science fiction story and one fantasy story once every seven days.

Format: Submissions should generally follow standard manuscript format, though we prefer single-spaced instead of double-spaced. Your manuscript may be submitted in either .RTF or .DOC format.

Word Count: We are open to stories of 1500-10,000 words. Stories of 5000 words or less are preferred.

Pay Rate: Lightspeed pays 8 cents per word for original fiction, or 2 cents per word for reprints. 

Rights: To see which rights we’re seeking, please view our contract template for original fiction or our contract template for reprinted fiction.

Cover Letters: Your cover letter should contain the length of your story, your publishing history, and any other relevant information (e.g, if you send us a hard sf story about black hole clusters and your doctoral dissertation was on black hole clusters, mention that). If you’re not sure what should go in your cover letter, this article on cover letters might help.

Questions/Problems: Email [email protected] for all fiction-related inquiries, or if you have any trouble using our online submission system. Please do not email your submissions to this address. All submissions must be submitted via our Moksha online submission system.

Rejections/Response Times: Be aware that we receive several hundred submissions every month during our submissions periods. As such, we cannot offer personalized feedback on each story. If we say, “send more,” however, it does mean that we hope to see something else from you. Most rejections will be sent out within two business days, while stories being seriously considered may be held for up to two weeks. Please do not respond to rejection letters, even just to say “Thanks for the quick turnaround” etc. We appreciate the thought, but it is unnecessary and will just clutter up our editorial inbox.

Diversity Statement: We believe that the science fiction/fantasy genre’s diversity is its greatest strength, and we wish that viewpoint to be reflected in our story content and our submission queues; we welcome submissions from writers of every race, religion, nationality, gender, and sexual orientation.

Other Submission Procedures

Novellas: Lightspeed publishes a novella-length reprint in each issue as an ebook-exclusive (i.e., it will appear only in our ebook edition, not on our website). For novella reprints, we are offering 1¢/word, on acceptance. As we’ll only be using 12 novellas a year, all of these will be directly solicited and we are not open to submissions in this area. If you’re an author we have solicited and/or published in the past, however, feel free to query.

Nonfiction: All of our nonfiction is currently assigned in-house. We are not open to submissions or queries in this area.

Review Copies: We launched a book review series in January 2015. If you would like information about how to submit books for review, you may send review copies to editor John Joseph Adams at the mailing address your publicity department likely already has on file (either for Lightspeed, Nightmare, or The Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy); email [email protected] for more information.

Art: If you wish to have your art considered for Lightspeed Magazine (either science fiction or fantasy), please send an inquiry, along with a link to an online gallery (if possible), to [email protected] Please note that we only use 12 covers per year, and we only purchase pre-existing pieces of art; we do not commission original art for covers. We do occasionally commission original art for some of the fiction we publish, but that original artwork is all assigned in-house.

Additional Notes

Lightspeed is edited and published by John Joseph Adams. You can see the rest of our staff on our Staff Page.

We welcome the submission of translations of stories from other languages. Stories that have never before been published in the English language would be considered “original.”

Sexual themes and stories with strong sexual content are acceptable, but Lightspeed is not a market for erotica. If in doubt, feel free to send your story in and let our editors decide.

Lightspeed is not a market for media-based fiction (i.e., stories set in the Star Wars or Star Trek universes, etc.), or any kind of fan fiction. (Note: We don’t have a problem with people reading or writing fan fiction or media-based fiction, we’re just not legally allowed to consider publishing it.)

Lightspeed is not a market for poetry.

If you’re not sure if your story is suitable, don’t query; please just go ahead and submit it and let our editors decide.

If editor John Joseph Adams has previously rejected your story, please do not submit it to Lightspeed, unless it was rejected as being unsuitable for the market (due to theme, etc.) or unless it has been significantly revised to the extent that it is no longer the same story.

Lightspeed is a SFWA-qualifying professional market.