Emailing Submissions

We are currently closed for submissions. The below information is for when submissions reopen. Thank you!

Submit to On Spec online

NOTE: we are no longer accepting emailed submission to the onspecmag(at) address.

So what happens next?

  1. The incoming stories have been sorted, in order of arrival, into folders.
  2. Each folder is assigned to a First Reader, and that editor gives every story a fair evaluation.
  3. Stories that are deemed not ready for publication, or not suitable to On Spec, are rejected as soon as possible. We try to provide some kind of constructive criticism, because we know how vague a form letter can be. We do ask your indulgence, and ask that you kindly refrain from responding to these emails. Take the rejection with a grain of salt, and understand that we're just one magazine out of many, and another publication may find your work to be just what they are looking for.

How long does it take?

That depends on the next step. If your story makes the first cut, it will be placed in a folder where all the editors have an oportunity to read and comment on it. After a suitable length of time (we all have day jobs, so we're doing this work in our spare time), we get together for an event we affectionately call "Fight Night". Stories are discussed in depth and final decisions are made. We try to get this done within 4 months of receipt, although circumstances often alter these plans.

If we reject your story at this time, but tell you we'd be happy to give it another look after you do a rewrite, we are quite serious about this. We do want to see it again!

If, on the other hand, we offer to buy the rights to publish your story, here's what you can expect:

  1. We will send you an acceptance letter and 2 copies of the contract. You sign both and return them to us.
  2. Upon receipt of the signed contracts from you, we assign your story to an editor for a copy-edit.
  3. You will receive payment for the one-time use of the story, although we may not publish it for several issues.
  4. Part of your payment is a one-year subscription, and we will start that with the very next issue.
  5. The copy-edit process is quite thorough, and you may be asked to do some re-writing to tighten up the manuscript. Trust the editors, please. They've been doing this job a long time.
  6. You will be asked to approve the editor's suggested changes, and most of this is negotiable.
  7. When the final version of your story is planned for an issue, we'll let you know. You will receive your author copies when the issue is printed.

We look forward to receiving new manuscripts when the next reading period begins. Keep checking the website and our Twitter feed or Facebook page for announcements.

The Editors

Please follow the guidelines below carefully .

If you want the editors to read your story . . .

In the upper left-hand corner of Page One, your manuscript MUST have:

First Name, Last Name (this is your real name)
Complete address, including country
Telephone number
Email address
Approximate word-count (to the nearest 100)

Below, still on Page One, and before your story begins, you MUST have:

Title of the story
The name you want credited for the story. (Pen names are just fine here.)

Note: Each submission must have ONLY one story attached. You can send several stories at once, but each MUST be in separate emails and follow the guidelines.

We accept only .rtf files written in Times Roman or Courier fonts.

Please note: If you fail to follow these most basic guidelines, we will not read your manuscript. Please believe that these guidelines are the standard everywhere.

On Spec Manuscript Style Sheet

Please read this sheet carefully before you submit your manuscript. These points address matters that at worst prevent us from reading your work, and at best create a bad impression of what you have written.

Files Submitted for Publication

  • Double-space (or 1.5 space) your work, please; but please pay attention to your paragraphing. Either indent with the tab key, or leave space between blocked paragraphs.
  • Times Roman or Courier fonts only.
  • Put just one space after terminal punctuation, such as periods. We will not fix this problem for you, but if your work is accepted, we will send the file back to you for you to do it, since it can be extremely time-consuming.
  • Do not put a carriage return at the end of each line. Carriage returns (since the days of typewriters) are just for paragraphing. Should you have done this, and we like your story, we will send the file back to you for fixing, since any fix we could try might well ruin your paragraphing.
  • Show italics as italics: First time!
  • Please show ellipses with three periods, rather than the font’s ellipsis from the Special Symbols palette, or one generated with a keyboard shortcut. Do not space between the periods.
  • If your word processor has trouble with “curly” quotation marks, which Word calls “Smart Quotes”, use the straight ones and let us sort it out. If your quotation marks are coming out backwards, change to the straight marks in your document preferences. You might have to enlarge your document to about 150% or more to check. Remember, you want them to look like “66 99” around speech.
  • If you need a dash, double hyphens are fine, but please don’t put a space before and after. Best is an em-dash (not an en-dash, please) which is a keyboard shortcut worth learning. You should look up what is correct for your platform, and for your word-processing software.


  • Put your contact information at the very beginning of the file (see the introduction to this sheet). Include your real name.
  • Bio information exactly as you want it to appear should be on a separate page at the end. In your cover letter to On Spec, please be clear about any pseudonym or pen name you would wish for authorship credit in print.
  • Please number your pages.

Nota Bene: MS Word’s Track Changes is how we do our markup, if we accept and copyedit your story. It would be a good idea to learn how it works. If your story is accepted, our copyeditors will be glad to assist you; but a basic knowledge of the feature always helps.