PLEASE NOTE: ARWZ Magazine is CLOSED to new fiction submissions until further notice. Fiction publication on ARWZ will be suspended until such time as magazine revenue makes it possible to pay professional rates for published fiction.
Before submitting your fiction, please make sure to read our General Submission Guidelines and our Plain Text Tutorial. Improperly formatted submissions cannot be considered.
PLEASE NOTE: The information on this page does NOT apply to CONTEST entries. For contest submission guidelines, go to our Contest Main Page.
To query a story for our regular publishing schedule, please read on.
All regular fiction submissions (i.e. not for the contest) must be queried according to the instructions below. Because of the volume of fiction submissions we receive for our regular publishing schedule, we can no longer read whole stories unsolicited.
ARWZ Literary Zine accepts submissions of original fiction for publication on a rolling basis. ARWZ is friendly to unpublished writers, and we are open to publishing short stories, short shorts, novelettes or novellas in serial. We no longer accept novel chapters as such. We accept all genres of alternative reality fiction (i.e. science fiction, fantasy, horror, dark fantasy, historical fiction, and related genres and cross-genres). Any sexual or violent elements should not be excessive and should be creatively justified. So-called "swear words" should be used in moderation. We are open to publishing experimental or traditional fiction, as long as it is well-written. We want character-driven stories with unique perspectives. We do not want tired plotlines and stock characters, unless they are being satirized or invoked for the sake of irony.
What do we mean when we say that we want "character-driven" stories? Certainly, all stories will be about characters. However, the distinction between "plot-driven" or "idea-driven" and "character-driven" stories is an important one. While alternative reality concepts, themes and ideas are essential for ARWZ stories, unique and intriguing characters are more important. In a "plot-driven" or "idea-driven" story, characters are a vehicle for exploring the concept or incident of the story. In a "character-driven" story, the plot is a vehicle for exploring the character. The most revolutionary speculative concept, fantasy world or plotline is of little interest for us without a unique character through which we can explore it. We would rather see earnest attempts at character-centered stories from writers still honing their craft, than slick plot-centered stories from experienced genre writers.
Before querying your story please ask yourself if it fits the above format. One of the most common reasons we reject stories is that they simply do not fit our format. Make sure your story fits with the goals and content of our magazine by asking yourself the following questions:
1. Is your story character-driven? A story is character-driven if the story is propelled forward by actions and decisions of its main character(s). A character-driven story starts when a character makes a decision to take action in a way that is out-of-the-ordinary for that character's daily life. It may be a decision to make a change in his/her life. It may be a decision to react in a certain way to a particular character or situation. The character-driven story moves forward because the character acts, reacts and interacts. The story doesn't "happen to" the character. In a plot-driven story, events from outside the characters' control advance the story. In an idea-driven story, concepts and questions advance the story. In a setting-driven story, the peculiarities of a new world or milieu advance the story. All of these story types are valid formats that particular markets seek to publish, but they are NOT what we are looking for at ARWZ. Your story may have elements similar to these other story types, but it must ultimately be a character-driven story to fit with ARWZ. Character driven stories are about the decisions of the character. In the past, we have received excellently written stories that were not character-driven, and rejected them because they don't fit our format. Please make sure your story is character-driven before submitting to ARWZ.
2. Is your story alternative reality fiction? Our definition of "alternative reality fiction" is not a strict one. However, keep in mind that stories you submit to ARWZ should appeal to our target audience, namely an audience who enjoys science fiction, fantasy, horror and historical fiction. Cross genre and mixed genre are most certainly welcome. We're also open to publishing stories that don't fit strictly under any of these categories. If you would like to submit a story, but aren't sure if it's alternative reality fiction, ask yourself if and how the story would appeal to readers of science fiction, fantasy, horror or historical fiction. If your story isn't clearly identifiable as an offshoot of one or more of these genres, it is wise to explain in your cover letter (see General Submission Guidelines) why you feel your story would appeal to our audience.
If you would like to submit your fiction to ARWZ for our regular publishing schedule (i.e. not for the current Contest), you MUST send an electronic query. You have two options for making initial contact with our editors:
OPTION A: Short Query: You may send a traditional query letter. A traditional query letter includes a synopsis of your story, a brief bio, your publishing credits, if any, and an explanation of why you feel your story would be a good fit for our magazine. Query letters are typically no longer than one (1) standard word processing page, and certainly no longer than two. All query letters must be sent by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line "QUERY: FICTION: Title of your Story". If our editors are further interested by your query, we will request the Long Query described below.
OPTION B: Long Query: If you would like to send us more information about your story than just a query letter from the outset, or if our editors have requested a Long Query in response to your initial Short Query, please follow our format for Long Query described as follows:
The Long Query includes three sections:
1) A cover letter
2) An outline
3) A story sample
The Cover Letter
Your cover letter should contain standard "cover letter fare" as well as a few specific requirements of ARWZ Magazine. If you do not include a cover letter, your query cannot be considered and will be returned for reformatting. Your fiction cover letter must include the following:
1) Your previous publications, if applicable. If you've never been published, don't worry, just leave this part out. Whether you've been published or not has no bearing on our evaluation of your work. But if you have been published, it helps us get a better sense of your work to see what audiences you have appealed to.
2) A synopsis of the story. Tell us a little about the story, the premise, a "teaser" of sorts. Think of it this way: give us a sale's pitch in one paragraph. Use this portion of the letter to "sell" us on your story, make us interested and anxious to read it.
3) Explain how your story fits our format. As we mentioned above, the single most common reason we reject stories is that they don't fit our format. Remember, there are two requirements in this sense. Tell us, first of all, why your story would appeal to an audience of alternative reality fiction readers. Secondly, tell us how your story is character-driven. Don't tell us that your story is character-driven. Such a declaration means nothing to us. Rather, take a look at our explanation of character-driven stories above and tell us how your story meets that format. In what way is a character's conflict the main goal of your story? Tell us briefly what your main character's driving conflict is. Why does this information need to be in the cover letter when we'll find out your character's main conflict on the first page? As writers ourselves, we know from experience that our intentions don't always make it onto the page as clearly as we would like them to. Fiction is about implication not declaration (i.e. showing not telling), after all. If we don't quite understand what you were going for, the cover letter explanation will clue us in to your intentions. This way, if we can suggest fairly straightforward revisions to clear up the problem, we can accept your story pending those revisions, where otherwise we wouldn't have.
4) Finally, tell us what you are querying, either a short story, novelette or novella. This part of the cover letter should also include a word count for the completed story. Remember, while you are not submitting the whole story, we expect that any queried story is complete. Accordingly, please include a word count for the entire story.
NOTE: If you have previously submitted a Short Query, then you have already sent us items 1) and 2) from the list above, and you should concentrate more on item 3) in your cover letter.
After your cover letter, you will provide us with an outline of your entire story. This should be a standard, prose outline. Give us a present tense telling of what happens in your story and why. Plain and simple. Scene by scene. The outline is NOT for showing us your creative skill (that's what the sample is for), but rather to show us the structure of your entire story. The outline should be brief and functional. A good way to structure this outline is to go scene by scene.
Tell us first, who is your main character(s) and what is his/her main conflict? Next, tell us what happens in each scene and why. In other words, how does each scene advance your main character's conflict? After taking us scene-by-scene, tell us how the conflict is resolved. Remember, the outline is simple and functional. No snatches or dialog or description. Just what happens, when and why.
Outlines should generally not be over 500 words. If your story is longer, more complicated or if you are querying a novella, then the outline will need to be longer. However, for most stories, if your outline is over 1000 words, it's too long. If you find that your outline exceeds 1000 words, then go back and simplify. You're not rewriting your story, here. You'll giving us a map of its structure.
The third and final item you need to include in your fiction query is a sample of your story. Your sample will most often be the first scene of your story. In general, the sample will be about as long as the outline. The first 500 words of your story is a solid sample. The story sample you provide should not be longer than 1000 words. This is where we get to see your creativity and skill, not in the outline.
Note: If you are submitting flash fiction that is under 1000 words in length, forget the outline, and just submit the entire story with a cover letter.
Remember, you will need to include a word count in your cover letter, as well as indicating the form. Short stories should be approximately 3000 to 8000 words in length. Short shorts (or flash fiction) will be shorter, of course. Anything longer than 8000 words is considered a novelette. If you want to submit an excerpt from a longer work, such as a novel, it must read like a self-contained story. We are no longer accepting open-ended chapters. If you want to submit a piece of your novel, query it as a short story, and be aware that we will evaluate it on its merits as a short story. It may be the best novel chapter ever written, but if it can't stand on its own, we won't accept it. The only time we accept novel chapters is occasionally in our Contests, but only when prescribed by the rules.
At this time, we are accepting simultaneous submissions. Authors grant us limited, nonexclusive publishing rights, but otherwise retain all rights to their work. Before publishing, we may make or request revisions. Such revisions may include tweaking your prose for our house aesthetics, or requesting selected line or scene rewrites. All changes are subject to the author's approval before publication. We ask that you allow us to retain your fiction in our archives for at least six months. We will retain it thereafter unless the original author requests its removal. Regrettably, we cannot pay our contributors for fiction, at this time. Visit our Support page to see our plans for changing this in the future. Since ARWZ is run by fiction writers, it is a writer-friendly magazine, and thus all publication with us is governed by a mutual agreement that protects your rights as an author of original fiction. If you would like to see the text of our house publication agreement, even before submitting your work, please email us using the guidelines for Questions/Comments on our Contact Information page.
As mentioned above, ARWZ is open to serializing novelettes or novellas. If you are interested in having ARWZ serialize your novelette (8000-18,000 words) or novella (18,000-40,000 words), send us a query as indicated above. If we're interested, we'll ask for the rest of it for review. ARWZ does not serialize novels (over 40,000 words).
If you agree to let us serialize your novella or novelette, then you must grant us non-exclusive publishing rights for six months from our publishing the final installment. After all, newcomers can't enjoy your later installments until they've read your earlier installments.
If we do not accept your fiction for publication, it does not disqualify you from publishing your story with us in the future. In our response we may suggest revisions, or suggest resubmitting at a later time.
Before sending your query, please be certain to read the General Submission Guidelines and the Plain Text Tutorial. Submissions that do not meet these basic guidelines cannot be considered, and will be sent back for reformatting. Fiction queries should be sent to email@example.com.
If you have any further questions after reading these guidelines, please visit our Online Help page to post a question to our editors.