Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fiction Guidelines - Postcards from Hell

The Submission Period is Now Closed.
Do not send new stories or they shall be tossed unshriven and unread into the Lake of Fire. Even if you're Anne Rice. Especially if you're Anne Rice.

In hell, we have a pentagram of five rules within which you must abide.

Rule Number One - Space Matters. Hell is full, so there's not much room to tell your story. Do not exceed the maximum word count of 600 words. Fewer words are better. Your target is 500 words. But in truth, word count is an unreliable indicator. What really matters is the number of lines. If you send us 500 words which consist almost entirely of three-word sentences of dialogue, we will be forced to consign your story to the Lake of Fire. However, don't count lines. Your line count and our line count will not be the same. So shoot for around 500 words, and if we like your story, we'll do our dead level best to make it fit into a corset of demon bones and flayed human skin.

Rule Number Two - Content Matters. These are Postcards from Hell, so make your story hellish. No, we're not just interested in stories about demons and devils, or zombies or werewolves or vampires, although all these things are nice. Hell has many layers, each one unique, and several are often mistaken for real life. So hell might be a child's closet or the trunk of a car or the muddy bank of a river in India. But keep in mind that we have a sense of humor around here. The most interesting person in Paradise Lost was The Boss. If we couldn't laugh, this really would be hell. We're not especially looking for funny stories, but if your story makes us chuckle, we won't immediately toss it in the Lake of Fire. Senseless violence and gratuitous gore may be therapeutic, but they do not a story make. Because the postcards will be delivered by the US Postal Service, any profanity you include in your story will be Beetle Bailey'd or asterisked. We're not scared of much, but them Postal Inspectors are some bad m****r f*****s. And for God's sake, no pornography (heh, we love that joke).

Rule Number Three - Genre Matters. If you must assign Postcards from Hell a genre, it is horror, but we editors from hell have a broad interpretation of horror, and we are not easy to frighten. We laughed through most of Peter Straub's Ghost Story. Shirley Jackson's Haunting of Hill House made us all nostalgic for our former existence. If the movie The Ring scared the pants off you, pull your pants up because we fell asleep an hour ago. Don't even talk to us about The Blair Witch Project or we'll consign your story to the Lake of Fire. Your job is to give us the creeps in ~500 words. Do that and you'll earn your pitchfork.

Rule Number Four - Contract Matters. If we accept your story for publication in Postcards from Hell, you will be paid a flat fee of $50 USD. That's around 10 cents per word. For this, your story will be published and mailed or emailed to our subscribers. We ask for both print and electronic publication rights for one year from date of publication. Postcards from Hell - the First Thirteen is an experiment, a pilot program to test the response of readers and their willingness to purchase subscriptions. The main thing is, if we agree to publish your story, it's because we think it deserves to be read and applauded and maybe optioned for a movie. So it will be published, one way or another. In any case, you will be paid a professional rate for it, and after a year, all rights return to you.

Rule Number Five - Format Matters. For your story to be considered for publication in Postcards from Hell, it must first pass our three-headed Golden Retriever - Lucky, Guardian of our Electronic Domain.

  • We only accept electronic submissions, so you must send your story to editor[dot]fromhell[at]gmail[dot]com (if this makes no sense to you, ask someone with sense to explain it).

  • You must format your email subject thusly: "Submission - story title".

  • You must include your name, address, email address and word count.
  • You must place your story within the body of the email. If you send it as an attachment, your entire email will be consigned to the Lake of Fire unshriven and unread (unless you're really famous - we just love celebrities in hell). We are not interested in reading your biography, no matter how cleverly worded. Just send your story in the body of the email. We like bodies. We like to see what's inside them. We aren't so much interested in what's attached to them.

Axioms to Live By

Postcards from Hell - The First Thirteen is a limited run edition. The submission period is also limited. The doors of hell yawn wide today, but when we have thirteen publishable stories, it closes - hopefully not forever.

The first postcard goes out August 4, 2007. The last one on the Saturday before Halloween. So send your stories now. Time's a-wasting.

Due to the expected volume of submissions, you are not likely to receive a detailed response unless we have suggestions for a rewrite. If we decide not to use your story, you will probably receive an email that says, "Your story has been consigned to the Lake of Fire. Have a nice day." Don't take it personally. We're not nice people or we wouldn't be here.

Do not argue with the editor. He's from hell. He may look like a chihuahua, but he'll eat you for lunch and spit out your bones. If your story is rejected, just walk away.

Reprints are not ok (unless you're really famous, see note above).

Simultaneous submissions are ok, as long as you confess to it beforehand.

Multiple submissions are not ok. Wait until you hear from us before sending another story.

Ok. That's about it. I am Minion. I have spoken. Now start writing, maggots.

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