We expect authors to actually read our submission guidelines.
If you are offended by the tone of our guidelines because you think we are stating the obvious, well, we thought some things were obvious, too. But they aren't. If we are stressing a point, it is because too many writers have been engaging in the behavior. If you know better, don't worry about it. We aren't talking to you.
Call for short stories, novelettes, and novellas
Short stories between 5,000 to 20,000 words.
EFFECTIVE November 15, 2016
Policy changes effective 11/15/16 do not affect stories already accepted for publication
We have responded to all submissions received as of January 10, 2017. If you sent us a submission before January 10, 2017 and you have not gotten a reply, you should email us immediately.
Please note: We are currently reading submissions for the October 2017 issue.
The Bards and Sages Quarterly is a journal of speculative fiction. These guidelines are in addition to our general policies.
The Bards and Sages Quarterly accepts simultaneous submissions and multiple submissions. If submitting more than one story, please send each story as a separate email submission. Do not send multiple stories in the same email.
The email address for submissions to the quarterly is quarterly(at)bardsandsages.com. Your subject line should include your last name and the title of your story. Example, "Dawson-A Game of Blood".
In the body of your email, include:
Your name (or pen name, if applicable)
Title of the story
If previously published, please tell us where
You should also include one of the following statements:
Yes, please provide me with my score and feedback if my story is not accepted.
No, I do not wish to receive my score or feedback if my story is not accepted.
Fiction (Previously Unpublished):
We accept short speculative fiction of up to 5,000 words. Flash fiction submissions (up to 500 words) may be submitted in the body of the email. Longer fiction should be submitted either as a Word.doc or rtf document.
We are buying FIRST TIME PERPETUAL WORLDWIDE ELECTRONIC AND PRINT RIGHTS for previously unpublished fiction. All other rights revert to the creator upon publication. We pay via Paypal or Google Wallet.
Fiction (Previously Published)
We accept previously published speculative fiction up to 5,000 words. We are opening the door to previously published material based on author requests. This should be treated as a beta program that may be terminated without notice.
All normal fiction submission requirements apply, except as follows:
*We do not pay for previously published fiction.
*You are granting us a non-exclusive, perpetual right to reproduce your story in the issue it is published only. You may continue to sell the story to other venues or as a stand-alone product.
*Do not submit stories that you are putting in Amazon Select. Once we have published a story, we will NOT unpublish the issue just because you want to put the story in Select.
*When submitting previously published work, you must inform us that the work is previously published and where.
Cover Art: Art should tell a story in its own right, and not just be a character sketch. Artwork can be either black and white or full color, and should be submitted as a jpg, png, or tiff file attachment. Art should be sized for 8" x 10" page (full bleed).
While artists may submit a low resolution file for consideration, we will need a 300 dpi or better file for publication. We will consider reprints of images that have not previously appeared as cover art elsewhere.
Literary Criticisms and essays: We are interested in literary criticisms and essays that discuss independently published and small press published speculative fiction. Such essays should not merely be book reviews or book summaries. For example, an essay can discuss recurring themes in a trilogy or series, a comparison of how two different authors approach a subject, an evolving sub-genre within speculative fiction as it relates to independently published or small press published books, etc. We are open to all manner of criticisms and essays, with the only strict requirements being that the works discussed must be BOTH published by either an independent author or micro press/small press (25 or less full length titles a year) AND the works must fall under the speculative umbrella.
Previously Published Fiction: Complimentary digital copy of the journal for your records.
Unpublished Flash Fiction (up to 500 words) $10 + PDF copy of the journal for your records
Unpublished Short Stories (500 to 5,000 words) $20 or a complimentary print copy of the issue
Criticisms and essays (up to 5,000 words): $20 or a complimentary print copy of the issue
Cover Art: $25 plus one copy of the print journal
In addition to normal payment, all fiction (whether previously published or previously unpublished) is qualified for entry in our annual Readers' Choice Awards. Each year, we invite our readers to vote for the best story of each issue. Winning authors are invited to republish their story in our annual Bardic Tales and Sage Advice anthology. This includes cash payment and a print copy of the book for the winners.
The following information applies to all guidelines for fiction. For project-specific guidelines, please see the individual project.
Format: NEVER send submissions longer than 500 words in the body of an email. Such submissions will be automatically rejected.
Submissions should always be sent as attchments using either Word.doc, rtf, or compatible word processing format. Do not send stories in PDF format. Do not send stories in JPG format.
We often download submissions to electronic ereaders so we can read on the go. As such, excessive formatting makes it difficult to read your submission. Unless otherwise noted, all submissions should be in Word compatible format, single space, in either Times New Roman, Garmond, or a similar standard font. Do not double space submissions.
If you want a word or phrase in bold or italic, put it in bold or italics. Don't use underscores or other symbols. These type of proofing marks are a holdover from the days of manual typesetting. They no longer serve a purpose in the digital age and only create more work for formatters.
Use your program's first paragraph indent function (don't tab or use the space bar) to show a new paragraph. Do not double space between paragraphs. Do not add headers and footers. Do not include non-standard icons or art for scene breaks.
If your story is accepted, all of your excessive formatting will have to be completely stripped so that the work can be formatted for publication. Make it easy for us.
Common reasons stories are rejected:
First Person and Present Tense narratives: We accept less than 1% of the first person or present tense narratives that are submitted to us. I've written about the problems of the First Person Narrative in the past. I encourage you to read that article before submitting a first person story so that you can avoid the common reasons such stories get rejected.
Plots involving rape: If your story is another "male hero must rescue his daughter, wife, cousin, aunt, or other generic placeholder female from being raped by generic placeholder villain", do not submit it. Also not interested in generic "rape victim gets revenge on generic villain that raped her" stories. This is a lazy plot device and for some reason, it seems to have become popular again with writers.
Maginalized minorities: Bards and Sages is owned by a woman, and currently the entire editorial staff is female. This doesn't mean we give special preference to female-lead stories (as anyone who reads our publications would already know!). But it does mean that you may want to consider if the minority characters in your story are actually fully developed characters or just stereotypes.
Vulgarities: While most of our projects are designed for a general readership, we don't have a problem with the occasional four-letter word. Don't be afraid to drop the F-bomb if the story calls for it. That said, if your story is more than 10% vulgarities, please go expand your vocabulary a bit before submitting. In most cases, excessive use of vulgarities is nothing more than lazy writing trying to force a response. The response will be rejection. I doubt that is the response you want.
Sex and Violence: We do not publish supernatural erotica. Not now, and not ever. We don't mind sexual situations per se, but if you are submitting a short story you should probably scrap the steamy sex scenes. And if it is a longer submission for a more extensive project the sex should be kept to a minimum. And while we love a little bloodletting with our horror, we don't want stories that are nothing more than laundry lists of criminal acts. On the horror scale, we are more likely to accept a story that emulates Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho than we are Saw.
Vampires: We love vampire fiction. We are not fans of Twilight. We do not consider paranormal romances, dark erotica, or anything involving your emo vampire fantasies. The same goes for werewolves. Seriously. Keep your tween fantasies to yourself. Or post them on your blog. But don't send them to us. If you have a vampire that actually behaves like a proper monster, we'd love to see it. But if your vampire is just your immortal fantasy boyfriend, don't bother.
Furries/half-breeds/hybrids: Anthropomorphic characters and characters that read like a laundry list of hybrids (i.e. the half-vampire/half fairy or half-werewolf/half-angel or whatever combination you throw together) have a slim chance of getting accepted unless there is a significant benefit to the story. Unless there is a strong reason for the existence of such hybrids or furries beyond the fact that you thought it would be cool or different, don't submit them here. It isn't that we don't enjoy anthropomorphic characters (we love them when done well). We just ask that writers consider whether or not such hybrids are actually necessary for telling the story or are they merely cosmetic.
The story is not speculative: We get a lot of submissions in which there is no legitimate speculative element. Some authors are taking general fiction stories and simply given them a cosmetic speculative cover. Just because your main character is an elf does not make the story speculative. If you remove the fantasy or paranormal element and the story is unchanged and/or the plot conclusion has the same result, then your speculative element is merely cosmetic.
Our Review Process:
We read every submission in full. In some cases, we may even read a submission multiple times, and pass it around to other staff or interns for review. We take the selection process very seriously because our goal is to present a showcase for our authors. Due to the volume of submissions we receive, unless you specifically request feedback on your work we will not provide it.
If you would like a critique or detailed explanation of our decision, please express such when you submit your work. If you do not ask for a critique, you will not receive one if we decline your story.