We are not open to unsolicited submissions of fiction at this time.
SPJ purchases science fiction stories with strong philosophical or scientific themes. If you are unsure what that means, then you should probably read some of our stories before you submit yours. Nobody expects you to quote Heidegger but stories should at least be thoughtful and original, exploring ideas about the nature of the universe and the role of human beings within it. A sense of wonder is good, but fear of the future is understandable too. Religious beliefs are welcome but not mandatory. Political diversity is also welcome, at least as much as every other kind of diversity. We like diversity so much that we prefer, but do not demand, the use of the British English language that has freely evolved for centuries, in comparison to the American English language which incorporates the arbitrary conventions of Noah Webster. Language should be free, just like thought. Regarding freedom of speech, we like John Stuart Mill’s liberalism when he wrote:
If all mankind minus one, were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.
We are less keen on the times John Stuart Mill described certain people as stupid. By now you either have a reasonable idea of our philosophical outlook or you are woefully unsuited to the task of writing a story for SPJ. You are nevertheless correct if you think that some of these instructions have been a tad longwinded. Patient readers are about to learn the really important instructions which, if they fail to comply with, will lead to instant rejection of their story. Anyone who submits a story without obeying the following paragraphs will be guilty of not just wasting their own time, but of wasting ours as well. We will minimize the time spent dealing with people like that. And for all the ill-informed would-be pedants who think they just spotted the exclusively American spelling of a word, you are incorrect.
SPJ pays 1 US cent per word for unsolicited stories we publish, or an equivalent amount in another currency as agreed between us and the author. We admit that this is a pitiful rate of pay, but philosophers love wisdom, not money, and we run SPJ out of love, not in the hopes of perfecting capitalism. On the plus side, we round up the word count to the next hundred words when calculating the amount owed.
Stories can be up to 10,000 words long. They might even be slightly longer, but they will have to outstanding and you will still only get paid for 10,000 words. Stories will ideally be between 2,000 and 7,000 words, but we are more motivated by the right qualities than the right quantity.
Please do not submit your story to both SPJ and another publication simultaneously. Please only submit one story to SPJ at a time.
We buy first English language rights plus certain non-exclusive rights explained in our contract. If you want to check the details, you can see the template contract here. Generally we believe this contract is more reasonable than most. It focuses on the rights which might help us generate a profit at some hypothetical point in the future (for example, by selling ‘best of’ anthologies) but does not grab all the other rights which we do not realistically intend to exercise.
Stories should be in standard manuscript format; William Shunn’s guide is useful but does not need to be followed perfectly.
If your story is accepted for publication you will be asked to provide a photograph of yourself and a short biography if you wish.
All submissions should be made electronically using our standard form for fiction submissions. The form is now offline because the submissions window is currently closed.
It would be very strange if your story requires a file over 1MB in size, so your document will be rejected if larger than that. Manuscripts can be submitted in the following formats:
Complete each field of the submissions form, even if the correct answer is “not applicable” or “none”. Nobody at SPJ minds if you have never been published before, but we would like to know if we deserve the credit for giving a first break to the next Isaac Asimov. Most of the fields deal with details that would normally be put into a cover letter, thus sparing you the challenge of how to address a letter written to someone whose real name you may not know, and who is unlikely to be the first person to read your story anyway.
An automated email confirmation will be sent after you have submitted your work. We aim to review all submissions by the end of the month in which the story is submitted, but if you submit near to the end of the month you may not receive an answer until the end of the following month. If you have not heard from us within two months of the date of submission then please use our standard contact form to query the progress of your story.