The rest of the Submissions page is a reference work. We link to parts of it, as needed, to keep correspondence simple. We also have a concise summary of the 12 most frequent problems found in submissions and our recommended remedies: The Review Readers’ Checklist.
This page is long because it compiles years of experience. Various topics in the Page Index may be of interest, but the page as a whole is intended primarily as a reference work. Perhaps four people have actually read the whole thing all the way through. They deserve a medal of some sort. And by all accounts they’ve never been quite the same since...
Everything in blue is an internal link or anchor link.
All links within the text open either hypertext notes or a new window, so you won’t lose your place.
What We Do
Bewildering Stories is a weekly Internet webzine (or “e-zine”) devoted to speculative and experimental writing as well as “mainstream” literature. All genres are welcome in both fiction and non-fiction. We publish novels, novellas, short stories, poetry, drama, articles, essays, reviews, graphic art and music. Bewildering Stories does not have a print edition.
We’re not just an electronic magazine; we’re a meeting place and, at times, an on-line seminar. Anything appearing in Bewildering Stories is open to discussion. Readers and authors are all invited to participate.
The official Challenge appears regularly in the Departments. It invites discussion by posing questions about stories or non-fiction in current or past issues.
The Critics’ Corner appears occasionally in the Departments. It features articles and essays on writing and discussions of individual works.
Bewildering Stories is not a writers’ group, but it does have an educational mission. We evaluate submissions, not contributors.
Any submission constitutes a request for our opinion. And we have an ironclad rule: we do not fall back on the non-response that all contributors rightly hate: “It didn’t grab me” or an equivalent. If we can’t accept a submission or we have to ask for a rewrite, we always say why. If you’d like further explanations, please ask. A very few contributors have requested no feedback. We tell them regretfully that we can’t consider anything under such a restriction.
Please send only one submission in any e-mail, including poetry. Exception: it’s okay to send a bio sketch and photo along with a submission.
E-mail the submission to the Managing Editor. He acknowledges receipt and, normally, forwards the submission to a Coordinating Editor.
The Coordinating Editor forwards the submission to two review readers.
If the consensus is unanimous and the Coordinating Editor agrees, he may send the appropriate notice directly or confer with the Managing Editor.
The Managing Editor has to verify that all acceptances meet our guidelines. This is almost always a mere formality. The Managing Editor may also make suggestions in addition to the review readers’. He confirms the submission’s place on the official schedule.
You may send revisions as an entire file up to the week before the work is to appear on line. After that, revisions must be made accocrding to our Preview Procedure.
Review readers are not proofreaders; they read for content and assume that the mechanics — spelling, punctuation and grammar — will be correct. If any systematic errors need correction, they may alert the Managing Editor to them.
All files have a “description” meta-tag. It is not visible to the readers, but it is very important: it is quoted by search engines on the Net as well as the one in our “All Issues” department.
Heretofore, the editor supplied a description meta-tag for all submissions that did not have one. The practice was intended as a favor to our contributors, but it is time-consuming, and sometimes the editor simply doesn’t know what to say. The description tag will be left blank unless the contributor supplies one. Poems are an exception; the best description tag may be simply “poem.” Separate description tags may accompany chapters within a serialized work at the author’s option.
The description should consist of one sentence or a fragment. Examples of the style of description meta-tags can be found in our Sample Page and the short introductions in any Readers’ Guide.
Priorities and Genres
Bewildering Stories invites unconventional writing in all genres — prose, poetry and drama — on all subjects in fiction and non-fiction, particularly:
science fiction, including accounts of alternate histories past, present and future
reviews and review articles, which may deal with real or imaginary books, plays, films on any subject as well as musical performances
real or fictional interviews, biographies, or memoirs
(invent your own)
We also welcome submissions in languages other than English. However, all such submissions must be accompanied by an English translation. If the original can be fairly presented along with the translation, we’ll try to include it. Please let the editors take care of the formatting.
We presume that any translations we receive are the author’s unless we’re told otherwise. All translations are the property of the translator.
We make no restrictions as to length. We like to keep works as compact as possible, but we also think our frequency of publication makes serials attractive and keeps readers coming back.
Tables of Contents: Since issue 280, each page of serialized works and of 3-part works within a single issue has been headed by a Table of Contents. If it has chapter titles, it may be a separate page that opens in a new window. A Table of Contents and the “Proceed” links often allow readers to view serial installments before the installments formally appear in a regular issue.
Our maximum page length is 3,000 words excluding headers and footers. Here are the arrangements we normally use:
up to 3,000 words
over 9,000 words
4 or more
in one issue
in the same issue
in one to three issues
in two or more issues
Exceptions: the 3,000-word page limit does not apply to letters, story contests, excerpts, or texts in a language other than English. However, such pages are limited to 9,000 words; that is, they won’t be serialized.
Serials appearing in three or more issues should be accompanied by a synopsis that gives a general overview of the story and allows readers to start without searching for the beginning. A synopsis should introduce the main character or characters to new readers and state the problem without summarizing the plot or giving away the ending.
For examples, please consult novels such as euhal allen’s The Bridge, II, and Tala Bar’s The King’s Daughter. We also encourage synopses in related short stories even when they are not part of a serial, e.g. Robert L. Sellers Jr., “Posse.”
Copyright lines link to the author’s biography, if available, and bibliography.
Multiple installments link forward and backward within an issue.
Multiple-issue installments can sometimes be read in advance; follow the Table of Contents, which cross-links to all installments.
Incomplete stories and serials: In early years we considered and published works in progress. In view of our backlog we can no longer do so. Please don’t send a sample as a regular submission, no matter how long the work is. We need the whole thing.
We will publish Excerpts as a Department, not in a fiction or non-fiction category. Excerpts are offered as a favor to our veteran contributors and normally constitute free advertising for novels or other works in print. If you’re not sure whether a publication of yours qualifies for an excerpt, please ask. More information under “Reviews and Interviews,” below.
Excerpts are not subject to our 3,000-word page limit; we like to keep the excerpt all on one page. However, it may not exceed 9,000 words, which is the limit for any title in one issue.
Excerpts must conform to Bewildering Stories’ general guidelines, of course. Otherwise, they are given our standard formatting but are not edited. If italics are required at any point, the author should insert the tags <i> and </i>. The Editor will repair errors in tag placement.
The gist of this section is: We print works that make sense, that don’t use naughty words or unnecessary violence, and that we like. For a succinct summary of this section, please see our Review Readers’ Checklist.
We at Bewildering Stories make few rules about what we like: we love to be surprised. However, we are aware of our limitations. First we’ll list what we don’t like and then what we do.
We cannot consider, regardless of merit:
Micro-poetry, including such genres as haiku, senryu and the like.
Other websites and e-zines specialize in ultra-short genres; Bewildering Stories does not. If we did, we would be flooded with such submissions. And we would have to accept them all, because we have no idea how to choose between them.
Inspirational or religious literature.
Religion as a topic is sensitive but not taboo. Rather, we can’t consider moralistic literature written entirely within a single religious experience, such as hymns to Zeus, Osiris or Quetzalcoatl. If you’re unsure whether a submission might qualify, please ask.
Descriptions and explanations of religious practices in any culture are fair topics as long as the readers are not assumed to adhere to any particular sect.
A related side note: The last regular issues in October and December tend to be catch-alls for certain types of stories and poems, but Bewildering Stories has no official holiday issues.
Fan fiction raises problems of trademark and copyright. Thus, we can’t print things like Star Trek spoofs featuring Capt. Kirk or Mr. Spock, etc. Merely changing names may resolve the problem.
Likewise, we cannot print fiction in which real, living people are characters. Exception: political satire. However, we must quote two of our unofficial mottoes: “Any story based on current events is out of date before it’s written” and Stendhal’s famous adage: “Politics in a novel is like a gunshot in a concert.”
We do not want to publish:
The gist of the following is: Bewildering stories are fine, but not ones that are illegal, offensive, inconsequential or befuddling.
Naughty words and scenes:
Naughty words: obscene, scatological or excessively vituperative language in any context. Fictional characters may cuss a blue streak, but they may use the “f-” and “s-” words only in their literal sense.
The rule is made for sheer self-preservation. If we didn’t have it, we’d have to debate each case with the author. Since the f- and s-words are normally used as verbal punctuation in speech, we find that workarounds always improve a written text.
Sex is limited to what our Managing Editor feels comfortable with. And that basically boils down to: “Nothing that can’t be done out in the street without frightening the horses.”
Bewildering Stories defines sentimentality as unearned emotion. Some examples:
Stereotypes of any kind. For example, our article “When East Isn’t East” discusses problems of stereotypes based on nationality or ethnicity.
Collections of proverbs or moral precepts with no demonstrated application in the form of fiction or non-fiction, especially in poetry.
Grammatical puzzles: in particular, novice writers frequently begin a story or poem with “he,” “she,” “it” or “they,” probably because naming a character seems to be too much like work. Readers like character names, and they hate personal pronouns that have no antecedents.
The record, to date: a submission containing a sentence with four personal pronouns, all referring to different characters. More information about that and simillar problems can be found at “Speedways to Literary Oblivion.”
Vignettes, namely writing that is purely descriptive or narrative — even in dialogue — and that has no meaning beyond itself. A vignette is like a frame in a motion-picture film or a single scene excerpted from a stage play. More information in the discussion Story vs. Vignette.
Stories that end with “But it was all a dream” or an equivalent. Of course we do not object to dream sequences in fiction, but we do object to stories that logically cancel themselves out. Dreams are a mode of interpreting reality, not reality itself.
Stories in which the narrator dies. Our principle is that somebody in the story must live to tell the tale.
Stories with a first-person audience, namely “dear diary” literature that is accessible only to the author.
In returning submissions for rewriting we often have occasion to refer to the advice given in some important articles. They are listed in a linked index in “The Writer’s Craft” and the articles are worth reading for their own sake.
And now, since we are Bewildering stories, here are examples of writing wed be glad to publish:
Naughty words and scenes:
Naughty words: a study of the cultural significance of swear words in any language.
Sex: stories in which sexuality is constructive and central to the plot and characterization.
Violence or injury that has a meaning, as in Eric Maria Remarques All Quiet on the Western Front.
Proverbs, aphorisms or maxims that serve as the basis of a story or poem that illustrates their meaning and application; for example: a collection of Martian proverbs accompanied by an exegesis that is either scholarly, humorous or both.
Irrelevance: an explication of a chapter of a story, or a fragment of a real or imaginary manuscript accompanied by an elucidation of its meaning.
What about borderline cases? What if a submission could be made acceptable by simply deleting or changing a few things? This is a knotty problem, because authors vary widely. Some are grateful for all the help we can give them; others cherish their every jot and tittle, and there’s everything in between.
Normally we’ll ask you to make any changes necessary, or you can let us do it. We do try to correct details we think any author would have caught on further proofreading, but we don’t make changes that alter the meaning of the text. If you find that a passage is missing from your work when it appears, it was lost in transmission. Please let us know immediately what it is, and we’ll insert it.
Normal Text: We consider texts received by e-mail only. We prefer to receive works in plain text or in an attachment in RTF (rich text format), whichever is easier for you. Our Contact page lists file types we can and can”t work with.
Emphasis: There are a number of ways to indicate emphasis. For complete instructions, please see our Style Manual.
If you want special formatting, please describe it in a preliminary note. Special formatting includes non-standard punctuation and spellings; in short, anything that differs from our Style Manual.
Titles deserve careful consideration. In any regular issue, a title and — in the case of prose fiction — an introductory note in the Readers’ Guide are the author’s only means of inviting readers to click on the title and read the work. Of the two, the title is the more important. An uninspired title will not attract prospective readers, and an inaccurate title will disappoint them. A good title is often easy to find, but sometimes it may be elusive and require some creative thought.
Many authors seem to consider titles a necessary evil; that may explain why one-word titles are all the fashion these days. And yet titles can be very important. While the lone personal pronoun Them is very effective as a film title, it is an exception; a title that consists only of a single common part of speech will almost certainly be nondescript and unattractive. Not only does it risk duplication of earlier titles at Bewildering Stories, which would be unfortunate, it will be very hard to search for, even if the prospective reader knows who the author is.
Duplications: Bewildering Stories will not knowingly allow titles to duplicate those of classic works. For example, it ought to go without saying that a submission titled “War and Peace” will need a different title. And we interpret “classic” broadly, for example: “Shake Hands With the Devil” is the title of Gen. Roméo Dallaire’s famous memoir about the Rwandan genocide. We will not allow it to be duplicated.
But how does one go about choosing a title? We have an article on that: “What’s in a Title?”
We indicate titles of novels and other stand-alone works by means of the <cite> tag.
Only acronyms and abbreviations may appear in full caps in our titles.
Foreign language titles are capitalized in old MLA style according to the language. All works in English must have a title that is at least partly in English.
After a work appears in a regular issue, authors may make minor emendations to the text as corrections or afterthoughts. However, titles cannot be changed retroactively. Any title appears on at least three separate pages in a regular issue and on several pages in our Titles, Authors, Genres index. Changing a title after the fact would be a monumental task. Please be careful with titles!
Characters need names. A few contributors have insisted on using personal pronouns — “he” or “she” — in place of proper names. That is almost always a formula for disaster. Grammatical ambiguities aside, readers warm to characters who have even the most commonplace names but tend to remain indifferent to characters who are unidentifiable.
Even in first-person stories the narrator needs a name, otherwise readers are obliged to think of the voice as that of John or Jane Narrator. In Marcel Proust’s classic novel À la recherche du temps perdu, the narrator is always je, except at one point when Proust paints himself into a corner and is forced to refer to the narrator in the third person. He uses the name “Marcel,” which comes as no surprise.
Footnotes; Hypertext: Bibliographies are okay. They are added at the end of a work.
Footnotes are required for source referencing in scholarly works but are deadly in prose fiction. Please remember that a page on line is not the same as a page in print. If readers jump to the bottom of a page, they will find their place again only with great difficulty — if they even try.
However, explanatory notes can be important and do have their place. The editor will insist on making them hypertext notes. If the notes are too long for alert boxes, they can be included on an auxiliary page that can be opened in a new window.
Spelling and punctuation: The editor usually runs a spell-check and cleans up punctuation as best he can, and the Review Board is especially vigilant concerning the quality of texts. Please see our style manual. We go out of our way to help contributors writing in English as a second language, particularly with spelling, syntax, and idiomatic usage.
Poetry: Bewildering Stories prefers poems written with standard capitalization and punctuation. However, we are aware of modern fads and crazes, and we allow exceptions. But we frown upon half-measures and prefer either all or nothing:
Use either standard capitalization or none at all. The pronoun “I” and proper names are exceptions and may be capitalized.
Titles do not count; a title is the name of a work, not part of the work itself. Standard practice allows the first word of each verse of a poem to be capitalized.
Use either standard punctuation or let line breaks substitute for it. Innovative punctuation, such as commas to indicate line breaks, is not allowed.
A poem may have standard capitalization but no punctuation. However, the converse is not allowed: a poem with standard punctuation must use standard capitalization.
The gist is that capitalization rules punctuation:
use none at all
if no capitalization, punctuation is not allowed
if no punctuation, capitalization is optional
We apologize for having to make rules, but it’s a matter of self-preservation. We receive a fair number of submissions in poetry and short poetry. A few of them flout conventions inconsistently, apparently as an affectation. Our Review Editors and, we believe, our readers do not have much patience for that.
Paragraphing: Please insert a blank line between prose paragraphs and no line breaks within them. If paragraphs are run together, we will try to separate them, but the result may not be what was intended.
Please do not indent the first line of paragraphs. Paragraph indents make handwritten manuscripts as well as double- and single-spaced typescripts more readable, but they are not necessary in our style; the editor will have to remove all the indentations.
“It’s a long road that has no turning.” Please bear in mind that a paragraph is harder to read on line than on paper. After about ten lines, readers begin to lose their place, and they’ll find it a real chore to read long, uninterrupted text.
If a paragraph is too long, the editor will make new paragraphs at likely points. If you feel you must insist on paragraphs more suited to papyrus or clay bricks, for some unfathomable reason, tell the editor. You’ll be reminded that long-winded texts discourage on-line readers and put you at a big disadvantage.
However, we aren’t unreasonable; we would hate to lose an exceptional work because the author preferred the conventions of 19th-century novels to those of the Internet.
Now, what if the preceding had been all one paragraph? Would you have even started to read it? We do not think so.
Fonts: As a rule, Bewildering Stories specifies formats but not fonts; the pages are displayed in the fonts assigned by the preferences of your Net browser. In submissions, please do not specify fancy fonts; not all readers can see them. If a special font is necessary for part of the work, please specify it in a preliminary note. Such special effects may best be handled by graphics linked to the main document. Click here for an example.
Internal links, such as for graphics, are welcome. If you want your bio or excerpt to link to your personal website, we will be happy to include it. We will include an e-address only if you explicitly request it. We use code for the @ in e-mail addresses to discourage spambots. It may or may not work, but it’s worth a try.
Links to other websites may be used routinely in non-fiction; we’ll make sure they open in a new window. However, we will not include links to other websites in fiction unless we agree it’s absolutely necessary.
Audio files: We welcome audio versions of submissions. Please send them only after the work has been accepted. Our preferred audio format is mp3.
Illustrations: If you have illustrations for your story or poem, we will probably love to include them. Photographs may not show any person other than the author.
Changes: Please remember that the texts that appear in Bewildering Stories are almost always more correct than the authors’ own copies. Also, on-line texts are dynamic, unlike those in print. If you wish to make further changes after your work appears, tell us what they are and we’ll see to it, provided the changes are minor.
Confirmation and waiting time: Please do not re-send something youve already sent unless it’s a revision.
If you haven’t received an acknowledgement within one week, please inquire; e-mail does sometimes go astray.
If you haven’t received a decision within three weeks of acknowledgement, please inquire.
In thankfully rare cases we make suggestions but receive no reply. The contributor’s e-mail account is either neglected or inaccessible. Some contributors have spam filters that have blocked e-mail from every account we use, and then they wonder why they haven’t heard from us. There’s not a lot we can do for them.
We’d like to publish everything immediately or be able to tell you exactly when something will appear, but the days are long past when we could do that. Nor can we publish everything strictly in the order in which it’s received: making up each issue is an intricate process involving primarily readability, which requires controlling issue length. Please see the guidelines in Bewildering Info.
If you’d like to know when your story will appear, you can consult “In Times to Come”: it is listed as the “Schedule” in the home page menu, and it also has a link in the Readers’ Guides. “In Times to Come” lists titles coming up in the next few issues. Or you can e-mail the editor; he may be able to give you an estimate, but if the queue is very long, maybe not.
Name and address: Please include your name and e-mail address. Your e-mail address will be published only if you specifically request it.
No new author may use exactly the same name as one already appearing in our Biographies & Bibliographies. For example: “Don Webb” is the Managing Editor. The contributor “Don J. Webb” is the widely known author Don Webb; he graciously consented to using his middle initial to ensure distinction.
Identifying submissions: Veteran contributors need not stand on formality; you’re old friends, and we know who you are. New contributors, please include a cover message addressed specifically to Bewildering Stories and tell us a little something about yourselves.
If someone we don’t know sends us a submission without a cover message, we’ll suspect it’s spam sent to multiple recipients at the same time. And if the author’s name conflicts with the name in the sender’s e-address, we’ll need to know why. Bewildering Stories can consider submissions made on behalf of someone else only under exceptional circumstances.
Everything in Bewildering Stories must have a title and a byline. “Anonymous” — or variations on it — is not a name; it is the equivalent of a blank byline. In departmental pages, the author is the Managing Editor unless specified otherwise.
The gist of the following is this: Only e-mail addresses make it possible to keep track of who’s who. One of our original editors published voluminously in early issues and never used the same pen name twice. For that reason, we’ve had to make some rather strict rules about pen names. You may use any pen name — within limits — and as many as you want. But you will have only one e-mail name and one bio page. And they will both carry the name in your first byline.
We’ll accept one-word pen names only if they’re unique, e.g. “Crystalwizard.”
Normally, your first byline will be “official.” If you want your bio page headed with another name than that of your first byline, please tell the Managing Editor.
Contributors often omit bylines and, sometimes, even titles. The omissions have consequences:
If the title is omitted, we’ll look for it in the subject line of the e-mail submission. In any case, a caution: omitting a title authorizes BwS to make up any title we feel is suitable.
If the byline is omitted, we’ll use the signature in the e-mail submission. If there is none, we’ll try to discern a name in the sender’s e-address. But e-mail addresses often reflect the sender’s name only vaguely, if at all. In that case, we’ll make up a pen name for you. It may be something like Spud’s fanciful concoctions; you’re much better off making up a pen name of your own.
Every contributor has only one page in the Biographies & Bibliographies department, regardless of the number of pen names the contributor uses. Caution: your first byline will be the name by which you will be known to BwS forevermore. Contributors are considered individual persons, and we have no way to distinguish between multiple fictional identities other than in bylines.
If you eventually decide to change the name on your bio page, tell the Managing Editor. However, we won’t make any other retroactive changes. Example: a contributor’s name had to be changed on the bio page and in the Biographies index because of new transliteration standards decreed by the Russian parliament. If you can cite an equivalent authority for a name change, we will take it into account.
Duplications and Reprints
Prior publication: If Bewildering Stories is the first to publish a submission, the author is free to republish it elsewhere. As a rule, though, we do not knowingly duplicate what is already available on the Net.
Exceptions: We will consider works we classify as “hard to find,” namely ones that:
are out of print.
have been substantially revised.
are in print in hardcopy or e-book format only.
have appeared on websites that are defunct, or ones that have archives in e-book format or are are simply too difficult to access.
We may accept a reprint as long as the author owns the rights to it. If any other publication owns rights, we cannot consider it. For example: if you’ve been paid money for a work, please don’t send it to us unless you know that the original publication has not bought the copyright.
Prior publication does not automatically exclude anything from Bewildering Stories. Please see our excerpts opportunity. Excerpts are free advertising we offer to veteran contributors, especially for long works in print or e-book format.
Self-publishing: Anybody can self-publish. Simply keep an e-book, PDF or word-proceesor file resident on your computer and send it on request. The problem of marketing remains, as usual: How will anyone know to request it?
The usual workaround is to post it to one’s personal blog or website. Such a posting may meet our “hard to find” criterion but, more often, it does not. However, BwS can consider it if the author promises to replace it with a link to its page at Bewildering Stories. We’ll supply a link designed to ensure that readers will keep their place on the author’s page.
Writers’ groups normally serve as a mode of discussion, not a means of formal display. If a submission appears in a public writers’ group, BwS will treat it like a blog posting. We can consider it provided the contributor promises to replace the original posting with a link to the page at BwS.
Simultaneous submissions are ones that are sent to more than one publication at the same time. Bewildering Stories treats them as a special case, not as regular submissions. The Managing Editor can respond in one of three ways:
Yes — The reply asks whether the author wants to proceed normally.
No — The submission may range from undesirable to acceptable with modifications.
Review — Our review readers might vote “yes,” but they might also recommend improvements.
“No” or “review” does not preclude the author’s resending the work as a regular submission, namely to Bewildering Stories only.
A regular submission constitutes an implied contract. You hire our editors and review readers to provide feedback. If we all agree on the results, you allow us to publish the work and don’t withdraw it. Everybody wins.
A simultaneous submission is a call for bids for a contract. It creates a timed contest in which the “winner” is, presumably, the first to accept the work as it stands. Time constraints prevent simultaneous submissions’ being given our standard review, and an explanation of “no” or “review” may or may not be provided. For a complete explanation, see “Simultaneous Submissions: The Trust Factor.”
We understand that contributors may fear that a publication might delay for months before returning a disappointing reply. Bewildering Stories doesn’t do that. Rather, we take pride in the editorial assistance we give to regular submissions. The feedback requires a little patience on the contributors’ part, and we very much appreciate the expressions of gratitude they often send us.
Multiple submissions — more than one submission at a time, preferably in separate e-mails — are okay for poetry. However, more than one short story or flash fiction submission at a time from the same author may cause problems. Please send prose submissions separately.
Hyperfiction: For hyperfiction, we prefer that you send in a group of linked HTML documents. We will most likely not accept any other format, unfortunately. It takes time to link up everything.
Duplications and plagiarism: We may not be able to detect plagiarism, but readers may very well do so. Any that can be proven will be removed from the website.
Duplications are submissions that are easily accessible elsewhere on the Internet. Bewildering Stories is very reluctant to publish what we consider “wallpaper.” However, works in print or e-book format or works that are buried in the archive of another Internet publication may be deemed “hard to find” and can be considered. Please see “Prior publication,” above.
Parodies: If your submission is a parody, please cite the author and title of the object of the parody; not all readers may be familiar with it.
Pastiches: Bewildering Stories does not accept pastiches. They do have their place, as an article in our Writer’s Guide indicates, but we do not want to get into hair-splitting arguments over what’s pastiche and what’s plagiarism. We do have a remarkable example of a story that successfully navigates between the Scylla of fan fiction and the Charybdis of pastiche. Click here to see how it’s done.
Letters are welcome:. We like to publish feedback and letters of general interest in our Letters department. We edit mail to make sure it includes nothing personal, only topics of interest to readers of Bewildering Stories. We do not include newsletters or material that more properly belongs on a personal blog.
Your name will appear on the correspondence unless you request otherwise. If the message is obviously intended for publication, we’ll contact you only if we have questions.
As mentioned earlier, your e-mail address will not be included on our pages or in correspondence unless you specifically request it. Exception: We welcome “fan mail” and will gladly forward it to the author of your choice. The entire message, including your e-mail address, goes to the author, whom we encourage to reply directly to you. We do not normally publish such letters. And we forward only the first communication from a reader to an author; after that, any further contact is up to them.
Bewildering Stories will consider and probably accept a review from any veteran contributor on any work or subject of the reviewer’s choice. Regretfully we cannot consider reviews from other sources; if we did, we’d open ourselves up to marketing spam and have room for little else.
Likewise, Bewildering Stories will consider and probably accept excerpts from veteran contributors for works in print or in an electronic format. One excerpt per title, please.
Any excerpt may be accompanied by one press release. It will be appended at the end of the excerpt provided the entire page does not exceed 9,000 words in length, which is the maximum for any title in one issue. We won’t allow an external link; the text must reside at Bewildering Stories — non-exclusively, of course. A press release must have a byline or some indication of its source. The press release itself may contain external links.
Likewise, Bewildering Stories will consider and probably accept interviews with or by veteran contributors. Regretfully we cannot consider interviews in which neither the interviewer nor the subject is a veteran contributor. The same reason applies as for reviews and excerpts.
Basically, to have a review, excerpt or interview accepted, you have join the club. A complete explanation can be found in our editorial Promotion: Three Case Studies.
Terms and Conditions
We purchase (with no payment but our gratitude) first, non-exclusive electronic rights for the works we accept. “First” means that the work meets our Prior Publication guidelines.. If the work appears in an author’s personal blog or website, or if it appears in a discussion group posting, it can meet our “first electronic rights” condition by being replaced with a link to its page at Bewildering Stories.
If your story is a reprint, we purchase (payment, again, consists of our thanks) non-exclusive electronic reprint rights. We do not claim serial rights; related stories are not considered serials.
“Electronic rights” include permanent archival rights. Contributors have sometimes been obliged to withdraw archived works in order to fulfill contractual obligations with print publishers. That’s perfectly okay, within limits:
We make withdrawals only after the fact. We cannot agree to limited archival rights, e.g. a week, month, year, or an indefinite period.
Serialized works, namely ones that have instalments in more than one issue, cannot be withdrawn. Please see Withdrawals and unpersons.
All works published in Bewildering Stories remain the property of the original author(s).
Exception: Discussions — namely pages featuring text from more than one contributor — become the property of Bewildering Stories. Contributors to discussions can propose minor editorial corrections but cannot withdraw their participation entirely once it has officially appeared in a regular or special issue. However, any participant in a discussion remains free to use his or her own text elsewhere without encumbrance.
Notice to publishers: Book publishers sometimes purchase the rights to works that have appeared in Bewildering Stories.
As consideration, we would appreciate publishers’ including the usual citation on their acknowledgements page to the effect: “(title) first appeared in Bewildering Stories” in the event that we were the first to publish the work. If a date is unavailable or cannot be readily determined — as for anything appearing before about Year 3 of Bewildering Stories — the issue number will suffice.
Withdrawals and Unpersons
Withdrawals: Occasionally publishers’ contracts require that the stories be withdrawn from our website. We applaud the authors’ success and are willing to comply to the extent possible. It goes without saying that Bewildering Stories cannot consider withdrawal requests from third parties; we will honor only explicit requests made by the authors themselves.
Exception: Real persons who are identified by their real names in a story, poem or essay are not considered “third parties.” Given proof of identity, BwS will comply if such persons request that a work be withdrawn on grounds of personal offense, embarrassment or merely unwanted attention.
Caution: Bewildering Stories considers withdrawals a personal favor to the contributors, and withdrawals have limits. In particular, works appearing in more than one issue cannot be withdrawn. These include serials, novellas and novels.
Explanation: Bewildering Stories is distinctive for being a highly integrated website; everything in it is accessible from every page. Listing unavailable titles on index pages is bad practice. Removing even one title in one issue affects links on four or more other pages.
Time restriction: Withdrawals are made when possible, not immediately. After the preview notice has been sent for the issue in which the title appears, a work can be withdrawn only after the issue is succeeded by the next and becomes an archive. For example: an official preview notice is sent on a Wednesday. On Friday, an author withdraws his or her story, poem or essay from the forthcoming issue. The withdrawal will take place nine days later, at the earliest, when the next issue is announced in the home page.
Permanence: Withdrawals cannot be rescinded. Once withdrawn, a work is gone forever; it cannot be reconsidered. For example: a book publisher offers to include a short story in an anthology and pay royalties for it on condition that the story not appear elsewhere. Accordingly, the author withdraws it from Bewildering Stories. But the book publisher folds or reneges on the contract. We will not restore the original. “Once burned, twice shy”; send it somewhere else.
Multiple withdrawals: Bewildering Stories is not a blog. It is organized by issues and departments, not by authors’ names.
We can remove selected titles from the bibliography on the author’s bio page. However, Bewildering Stories is very limited in human resources. Withdrawing multiple works from many issues is a long, tedious process and can be done at the rate of only one title a week. The author will have to send us a reminder every week of the pages remaining and cite the URL’s in each case.
A withdrawal notice will replace the original text(s) provided we’re told in every case on which pages to make the substitution. We cannot simply delete pages from our archive. That would create many broken links, which is unacceptable Net practice.
Special case: If the bibliography contains only one title, the author’s bio page itself becomes defunct:
The author’s name will be removed from the Biographies & Bibliographies index.
The the text of the work affected will be replaced with “Withdrawn at the author’s request.”
The bio page itself will remain, but the text will be replaced by the standard withdrawal notice.
However, in such cases, the author does not necessarily qualify as an “unperson” (see below).
The same procedure applies to “unpersons,” to borrow a term from George Orwell’s 1984. An “unperson” is one who has asked to be “vaporized” (op. cit.), i.e. to have all traces of his or her existence removed from the website.
No, sorry, that is not possible: all Departmental pages, including the Indexes and Readers’ Guides, belong to Bewildering Stories, not to any author. As implied above, broken links are not an option. The most we can do is replace the works, bio text and bibliography with “Withdrawn at the author’s request,” and remove the person’s name from our Biographies index. Sadly, “unpersons” are gone forever; they cannot return under their own name or a pen name.
Bewildering Stories is a “cash-free zone” and cannot consider hosting paid advertising on its home page or Departmental pages. The most we can do is host public-service notices at the bottom of the home page. However, our contributors are not subject to the same restriction.
Queries about advertising are typically of two types:
Text-linked advertisements on a page in a regular issue:
Text-linked advertisements are possible. Since the text on contributors’ pages belongs to the contributors, we’ll put the advertiser in touch with the author concerned and will post the link(s) as the author requests, but we will not otherwise act as an intermediary. BwS will assist advertisers in contacting authors individually, not as a group.
Bewildering Stories will consider stand-alone advertisements on individual pages in a regular issue at the author’s request. Limit: one page. Multiple-page inclusions of the same advertisement are not possible, sorry.