Author Instructions for On Spec’s Submission process
If you are already registered with us, you should be able to log in and submit your story or poem.
DON’T attach your submission as a PDF! Send an RTF or a Word document, and we will be far less cranky when we read your story. You will find that the software we use to manage submissions will allow a PDF, but we don’t like them. And we will ask you to send us the preferred format.
The first time you want to submit a work to us (short fiction, poetry, art) you will Register by going to:
- It looks like a log-in page, but you can’t log-in, until you Create your account (see the link under the log-in part)
- The Create Account page asks for the usual—your name, email, phone, address and such. It will ask for your “Affiliation” , and of course that’s not useful for us. However it’s a mandatory field, so just enter any old thing. We may give style points for creativity. Once that is submitted you may need to wait a day or two—why? Occasionally we may need to Activate your account before you can send us something, so please be patient. Like all volunteer-run organizations, we do this in our spare time.
- Once activated, you can log in to the same Dashboard, and submit a new “abstract”*, which is the work you want to send to On Spec for consideration. You will need to enter the Security Code each time you log in. *The application is used primarily by academic folks for submitting abstracts for papers they want to present at conferences.
- DO NOT TRY TO COPY AND PASTE YOUR WORK INTO THE COMMENTS BOX! You can give us a brief bio note if you wish, although we’ll ask for more information if and when we offer a contract. There is a space for attaching documents.
- DO NOT CROWD SEVERAL POEMS INTO ONE SUBMISSION. When we say one poem per submission, we mean it. If you send us a bunch of poems, and we decided to decline all but one, it can get very complicated when our system allows just one form letter for each status.
- You will be able to see your submission status whenever you log in. If it has not been assigned to a First Reader, it will show as “Pending”. Once Assigned, the status will change.
- The First Reader will determine if your story is strong enough to be passed along to other members of the Editorial Team for consideration.
- When we make a decision concerning your submission, you will receive an email that either says the work has been declined, held for consideration, or the work has been accepted.
- If accepted, we will send a follow-up email in a few days, to offer you a contract, and to explain the next steps. We pay on acceptance of a signed contract, and then as soon as possible, we’ll assign an editor to help you to further groom your story. With poetry, the poem is generally accepted as submitted, so that process is shorter.
- Please note that due to the increased volume of stories we get, and the extremely heavy workload on our volunteer editors, we may not be able to include any sort of detailed critique if we decline your work. There may be editor comments on your story when we see something that you might need to work on further.
We hope this will help you with your next submissions to On Spec. Thanks for your patience with us.
We often get asked if we accept simultaneous submissions and the answer is yes we do. Our response time is long for some, and it isn’t fair to hold up your story or poem when you could be sending it elsewhere. We appreciate the courtesy of a heads-up when you submit your work, and we also appreciate your telling us immediately if it is sold to another market while we are still considering it.
If it occurs that we decline your story, don’t take it to heart. We are looking for the best 5% of a large number of submissions. Why might we reject a story?