Submission Guidelines

How To Submit

Click over to Submishmash to submit. WE DO NOT ACCEPT EMAIL SUBMISSIONS. If you’re not familiar with the kind of stories we’re looking for, read on for a few moments first.

What We Look For

We publish stories from 500 to 1,000 words in length.

They’re very short, but they are still stories. That means the best ones have strong, interesting characters, plots, and (to some extent, at least) settings.

Regarding Content

We’re not that concerned about genre. Many of us have a fondness for science fiction and fantasy, but we also like literary fiction; and in any case, great flash stories aren’t always easily classified. If you wrote it, and you love it, then submit it.

Second-person point of view has a hard time running our gauntlet. Some of us like it, some don’t. You can submit it, but the odds of publication are lower than first- or third-person.

We want our publication to be accessible to a variety of ages, so please, no erotica, porn, or graphic sex or violence. Think Law and Order: Special Victims Unit or Criminal Minds on TV: they handle horrific situations, but always obliquely enough to be shown on TV — and for the most part, you never notice that the graphic elements aren’t shown. But sex is also a part of life: if your story addresses sexual issues or contains non-graphic sexual content for a purpose, nobody on the editorial staff will be offended if you send it in. The worst we can do is say “no”, right?

In the same way, we won’t publish profanity. However, you don’t need to remove profanity to submit to us; just be prepared to modify it if we accept the story.

There are things that we’ll consider, but that are a hard sell for us. These include: Second-person point-of-view (does the story really need that perspective?), polemical fiction (we prefer stories with messages in them over messages told as stories). That said, we won’t rule out any of these, so the worst case is that we say “no”.

What To Submit

This information (from here to “SFWA Qualification”) is duplicated at Submishmash.

NOTE 1: Flash Fiction Online is a Science Fiction Writers of America qualifying market. For more details on SFWA membership, follow THIS LINK: http://www.sfwa.org/join-us/sfwa-membership-requirements/#shortfiction

NOTE 2: We’re always looking for great stories related to important events and holidays. Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Mother’s and Father’s Day, Election Day, Veteran’s Day. The list goes on. If you have something apropos, drop it into our ‘Seasonal’ submission category. Please give us at least a couple of months leeway, ie. submit for Valentine’s Day by December 14th. Thanks!

THE IMPORTANT STUFF:

1. WORD LENGTH: We publish very short fiction, consisting of 500 to 1000 words (story only) in length. Authors may submit previously unpublished, original stories up to 1100 words with the caveat that if accepted the story will have to be cut to 1000 words.

Submissions of fewer than 500 words or more than 1100 words WILL be returned unread.

Please include an exact word count.

We do not publish poetry, nor do we publish fiction with poetry-like formatting.

2. FORMAT: We accept doc., rtf., or txt. files only. No docx.

Please omit all author information (including your name) from the text body, headers, and text file name. Include author information in the cover letter only. This allows anonymity in our selection process, and ensures that stories are selected entirely on merit – not previous publication credits.

Submit in Times New Roman or Courier New font, 12 pt. Double spacing, left alignment, and one-inch margins give you brownie points.

Please submit using the appropriate Category (genre). If you aren’t sure which genre category your story belongs in, don’t sweat it. Just drop it in the ‘Other’ box.

3. SUBMITTING: We DO accept multiple submissions (you submit more than one story at a time to us). Please submit multiple submissions as a SEPARATE submission for each story—DO NOT submit multiple stories in one Submishmash submission form or in one text document. Please DO NOT submit more than 3 stories at once.

We DO NOT accept simultaneous submissions (you submit your story to us and another market at the same time).

4. GENRE: We accept most genres.

Please no erotica, porn, gore, graphic sex or violence, or heavy-handed profanity. We’re PG-13 at most. We’d rather see such situations handled obliquely—enough so that it could appear on prime-time network television. If the story is amazing but the content questionable, in any way we deem it to be so, be prepared to make modifications if we accept the story.

If in doubt, send it anyway. The worst we can do is say “no.”

We do not publish fan-fiction.

If you’ve read this far, you’ve got the meat of our guidelines. To see what might help push your story to the top of the slushpile, read on:

HELPFUL STUFF:

5. ON STORY: Flash fiction is very short but still a story, complete with a resolved plot and strong, interesting characters. Flash fiction is not a story synopsis or a scene from a novel. For a pretty good article (if I do say so myself) on writing flash fiction, follow THIS LINK to my blog, The Slushpile Avalanche: http://slusheditor.blogspot.com/2010/01/managing-story-length.html

6. ON HARD SELLS: 

2nd POV: We’re all writers around here. We understand about the desire to push the envelope, to experiment with form or structure or point of view. We’ve also seen some pretty amazing results from authors doing just that. However, after the thousands of stories we’ve read, second-person point of view is not only hard to write well, it’s hard to read. I’m not saying ‘do not send’ 2nd POV stories. I’m just saying it’s not likely to be well-received here.

POLEMICAL FICTION: We don’t have anything against a story having a message, but we prefer stories with a message, rather than messages told as a story. Does that make any sense? In other words, if you have an agenda to vent in the form of a story, it’s probably not for us. If you are talented enough to hide your agenda in a really well-written story, well, we’ll see.

EVIL HUMAN RACE: I’m afraid this is fast becoming the most trite and overdone of all fiction trends—evil humans (or worse, evil white males) are responsible for a) all the world’s ills, and/or b) the destruction of the world. Or, related to it, vastly superior aliens justify their complete destruction of the evil, wasteful human race. Sorry for being an optimist, but I have more faith in the human race than that. And more faith in aliens, for that matter.

SURPRISE!: Surprise! The hero is actually a _____________________ (Fill in the blank with any one of a number of potential choices—the villain, a vampire, a cat. Use your imagination. No, actually, don’t.) In reality, any story in which the ending is an unsupported surprise isn’t going to be received with much enthusiasm.

DIVERSITY?: Characters with differing religious and/or political beliefs from the author are lampooned, stupid, crazy, evil, etc. Ugh.

WHO??: We’re not hugely keen on stories with unnamed main characters. Hiding your main character’s name is not a new idea. It just isn’t a frequently published idea because, to be frank, it doesn’t work. Simply giving your main character a name, an identity, in the first line or two of a story will do more to draw your reader into the story than just about anything else. If you’re writing in first person POV, it’s not always possible to identify your character by name, and that’s fine. But it would be nice to at least have a clear identify–gender/species/age, etc.

DOWNERS: Call it a sign of the times, but we’re seeing a lot of stories about downtrodden characters and depressing, hopeless situations these days. While many of them are very good, even worthy of publication, we’re tiring of the hopeless. Don’t get me wrong. A good portion of our staff, including yours truly, have a place in those shadowy recesses of our psyches for well-done dark fiction. But there’s dark, and then there’s just plain downer for downer’s sake. At any rate, during the Great Depression/war the popular media made a concerted effort to produce hopeful and uplifting books, films, and radio shows to encourage a downhearted public. After reading hundreds of unhappy stories, we’re sort of wishing for something like that to happen now.

BLOOD and VIOLENCE: Hopefully NOT a sign of the times, we’re also seeing a lot of stories concerning suicide, serial killers, and violence against children. Again, I’m not saying I wouldn’t ever publish such stories, but the odds are stacked heavily against it.

OTHER STUFF:

7. ON RESPONSE TIME AND QUERIES: Our response time ranges from 2 to 10 weeks. Queries are only for stories that have already been submitted. Please do not query until at least 8 weeks after submission. Send queries to editor@flashfictiononline.com. Include QUERY in the subject line.

8. ON US: Want to know more about us? Visit our staff page, read our stories, sign up for a free subscription. We’re also on Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Facebook. Look us up, Like us, Tweet us.

SFWA Qualification

Publication in Flash Fiction Online counts toward the requirements for membership in the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA).

Although the SFWA recognizes this magazine as a professional market, we frequently publish literary fiction and other genres. See below for more information about the type of stories we like.

Payment and Rights

Here is our FFO Sample Contract

As of April 1, 2014, we pay sixty dollars ($60) per story. This payment provides us with first electronic rights, including HTML, PDF, plain text, and MP3 (audio) formats. Distribution will be through this Web site and a variety of other electronic means — as of this writing, we expect podcast, email, digital e-reader downloads, and RSS.

This payment also provides us with a non-exclusive one-time right to publish the stories in an anthology. No timelines have been identified for this project.

All other rights for the work remain with the author.

Response Times and Queries

Due to the number of submissions we receive, we are unable to give personal feedback or critiques.

To query about a previously submitted story, send an email to editor@flashfictiononline.com with “QUERY” in the subject line.

42 comments
Kevin
Kevin

I've submitted a story but have now made some minor edits to my original draft. Is it best to leave the submission as is and perhaps edit upon acceptance? Or withdraw now and resubmit with the changes? 

 Also the Sumishmash default says you pay $60, not $50.

Jeff
Jeff

This may be a ridiculous question, but do you accept submissions from authors outside of the U.S.

LisbettMemree
LisbettMemree

Or do we just include that sort of information on the cover page ?


LisbettMemree
LisbettMemree

How do you get in contact with those you want to buy the stories from?

matte
matte

Does numbers, symbols and punctuation count as words? Example, with the specific "words" underlined: "I don't want 174; it's a bad # - throw it away!"

CDB
CDB

What are you looking for in a cover letter? 

Debadatta Pati
Debadatta Pati

I have a short story for valentine's day. Am I late?

Emma
Emma

Where do I include the word count? (Title, cover page, etc?)

Jubalee
Jubalee

I have a question. What if I only want to publish something for fun, and do not wish to be paid or have my name on the story?

Andreas
Andreas

Hi, Just a quick question: I have 4 short stories for submission but they range from 253 - 450 words. Would you still consider publishing?

MarkGP
MarkGP

Hi, Do you accept submissions from the UK? Thanks ~ Mark

Cat
Cat

It says submissions are closed for the 2013 Christmas season...and then it says Flash Fiction is open to all submission categories...Does this mean only Christmas themed stories submissions are closed, or that all submissions are closed? I've just submitted a story, so I'm wondering if I should be checking back in 2-10 weeks, or waiting until January?

Eclectic Eccentric
Eclectic Eccentric

hi. do you accept stories previously posted on the author's personal blog? thanks.

Mary
Mary

Can I delete / retract a submission I made?

GrahamLand
GrahamLand

The headline says "We are OPEN for Submissions" so I read through the entire guidelines text before clicking over to Submishmash only to find that submissions are closed until December. Why build me up, buttercup?

JL Merrow
JL Merrow

"There are things that we’ll consider, but that are a hard sell for us. These include... queer fiction (in particular, stories which would be obvious or trite if the characters had been straight)" While I'm absolutely on board with the bit in parentheses, I'm very uncomfortable with the idea that you have a general bias against GLBTQ fiction and would welcome a clarification on this point.

Debashis Deb
Debashis Deb

I find the long list of do's and don'ts quite reasonable and straightforward. Though I am a general surgeon by training, but recently contemplating about writing stories which was my passion during my college days. I have written about ten stories so far but they wouldn't qualify as flash fiction because they all consist of more than two thousands words. Next time, I write a story, I will try to wrap it up within 1000 words and send to you. I live in Kolkata, the cultural capital of India. My stories are all about the three hundred years old city and its people.It`s really fascinating to find out the Flashfictiononline and read all about it.

Maggie
Maggie

I forgot to add a word count to my submission... is that a banishing offense?

AnnaY
AnnaY moderator

@Jeff Yes.

AnnaY
AnnaY moderator

@LisbettMemree No.  Please no personal identifying information included within the body of your submission.  This will get your submission rejected due to a guidelines issue.

AnnaY
AnnaY moderator

@LisbettMemree We'll email the authors we choose using their Submittable registration information.

AnnaY
AnnaY moderator

@matteWe're not that picky.  Just send us the general word count as provided by your word processing software and we'll take it from there.

AnnaY
AnnaY moderator

@CDB Basically this:


Dear Editors,

Please consider my attached story for publication in FFO.  My recent works have been published in ________.


Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely,

Your Name.

AnnaY
AnnaY moderator

Yes, for 2014 at least. But there's always 2015!

AnnaY
AnnaY moderator

@EmmaSubmishmash will ask for this as part of your submission form.

AnnaY
AnnaY moderator

@Jubalee Generally the authors we publish are professionals seeking both recognition and payment, therefore they are at the top of their craft.  If you would like to submit, then by all means, please do.  And of course, you can always turn down payment and use a pen name. 

AnnaY
AnnaY moderator

@Andreas No.  All submissions must be at least 500 words to be considered for publication. 

AnnaY
AnnaY moderator

@MarkGP Yes!  We accept submissions internationally. 

AnnaY
AnnaY moderator

Good question. We've already filled our Christmas spot for this year but fill free to submit for other seasonal themes. We're working through our regular submissions and should have a response back to you within 8-12 weeks. Thanks for submitting!

AnnaY
AnnaY moderator

No. We only buy first digital publication rights.

AnnaY
AnnaY moderator

Yes. Log into your Submittable account and follow the instructions there.

Anna Yeatts, Publisher FFO
Anna Yeatts, Publisher FFO

My apologies. We've been going through some growing pains and will be back up to speed shortly. The error has been remedied and we hope to find your story in our submissions in December. Thank you for your interest in submitting!

Anna Yeatts, Publisher FFO
Anna Yeatts, Publisher FFO

I would like to officially say that FFO has no bias whatsoever against GLBTQ fiction and would welcome main characters that challenger gender and sexual stereotypes. The world of science fiction and fantasty in particular is changing and there is a place in it for everyone. I apologize for the long delay in responding to your concerns. Please accept my apology.

Anna Yeatts, Publisher FFO
Anna Yeatts, Publisher FFO

Wonderful. Best of luck to you. Our submissions will reopen in December. Remember, keep writing!

Carl Steiger
Carl Steiger

I just submitted a story and it didn't ask me.  Will I have to resubmit?

JL Merrow
JL Merrow

Thank you for clarifying this. Perhaps it might be appropriate to amend the wording I highlighted, so that no misunderstanding arises in future?

Anna Yeatts
Anna Yeatts

I agree. That will be taken care of shortly (as in, when I get home to my laptop). We're undergoing some transitions, so again, I appreciate your honesty and patience. Please don't hesitate to contact us with future concerns or with ideas of how we can better serve equality in any way.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] onto the page. Then wipe some off. Write 100 words to a photo prompt. Submit 500 to 1,000 for a flash story. Craft a six-word memoir. You may be surprised at how much you enjoy [...]

  2. […] We believe good stories should be free to readers—our goal is to help foster appreciation for short fiction. At the same time, we’re eager to support writers. We offer pro-rate payment for stories (as defined by the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, $0.05/ word). All our stories are read blind, with the author names and other identifying material stripped off, to ensure impartiality. At FFO, it doesn’t matter if you are a new writer or a seasoned pro–if we like your story, we’ll take it.  Submission guidelines […]

  3. […] Flash Fiction Online publishes stories from 500 to 1,000 words. They publish all genres except erotica, and are particularly interested in holiday-themed stories. They pay $50. Be sure to check out their detailed writer’s guidelines.  […]

  4. […] that encourage flash, such as the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, which accepts submissions of flash fiction in 500 to 1,000 words. Even if science fiction is not your genre, the organization accepts […]