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.
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:
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
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 email@example.com with “QUERY” in the subject line.
If you enjoy Flash Fiction Online, consider subscribing or purchasing a downloadable copy. Your donations go a long way to paying our authors the professional rates they deserve. For only $0.99/issue that’s cheaper than a cup of coffee. Or subscribe for $9.99/year.