Submission guidelines

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Fiction Submission Guidelines

We are looking for new, unpublished, short speculative science fiction stories that delight and wonder. To us, short means between 500 and 10,000 words. We are especially interested in works from new and emerging authors who are queer, neurodivergent and/or people of the global majority.

For us, speculative fiction involves speculating in some form or another (directly, indirectly, metaphorically, etc.) about the human condition in the immediate or distant future. This can be done in many genres under the umbrella of speculative fiction, including, but certainly not limited to, science fiction, fantasy, slipstream, and *punk.

The kind of stories we’re looking for are the ones that leave you breathless, or pondering your existence.Your endings can be happy or tragic, they can tie up neatly within their own bubble, or be a window into a larger universe. Short fiction by nature should be concise and quick-paced, but it certainly doesn’t need to close every loophole or tie every thread.

We like character driven stories, but “character” can be loosely defined. Does your ship’s AI have a soft spot for its passengers? Is your planet sentient and resentful of its inhabitants? Build a character we can love or hate, pity or resent, in under 10,000 words. 

We are not looking for explicit sex or gratuitous violence for the sake of being violent, or stories that wrap up suddenly thanks to the introduction of a deus ex machina. We love stories with a twist when it is executed well, but avoid overdone tropes. (See, “my nice mentor is actually an evil villain!”)

We prefer stories that use technology over stories that use magic, but welcome stories that cleverly contain both.

We prefer stories that try not to compromise creativity by over-focusing on scientific accuracy.

We prefer stories that rely on characters who interact with technology, rather than technology that interacts with characters. (Of course, some technologies are characters…)

That being said, we are very open and welcome to many interpretations of what “speculative fiction” is, the genre’s diversity being what we love so much about it. You can find a more detailed outline of what we are and are not looking for here.

No reprints, please. We consider reprints to be any story that has previously appeared in any medium that is accessible and/or purchasable, including, but not limited to, blogs, websites, magazines, books, whole-back tattoos, and private subscriber/supporter-only feeds. (Private critique groups do not count).

We are not interested in stories about: zombies; violence for the sake of violence; sexual assault; rapists; sexy vampires; sexy werewolves; sexy vampire-werewolf shapeshifters; sexy zombies; Democrat/Republican turf wars; petty matricide; painting real-life past atrocities in a positive light; sentient body parts that fall in love with other sentient body parts; whatever fits in between these.


We pay $0.08/word for the first 2,000 words, and $0.02/word after that.

Payment Calculator

Word Count:

Enter a word count in the box above.

This is higher than our usual limit of 15,000 words, so it will be a tough sell!

Rights & Terms

  • First English language worldwide electronic rights
  • First print rights
  • Nonexclusive anthology rights for our annual collection of all fiction published by Proton Reader since our inception or our last anthology

At all times, copyright remains exclusively with you, the author.

Payment is made via PayPal.

Publication & Distribution

We are purchasing the rights to publish your story in three places:

  • First, your story will appear in the DRM-free e-book version of the magazine issue on the date of publication.
  • Second, your story will appear on the website, for anyone to read for free.
  • Third, your story will appear in an annual collection of fiction published by Proton Reader for the year it was published, both as a DRM-free e-book and physical book. (We may wait to collect two years of stories for an annual collection).

Proton Reader is a not-for-profit, volunteer-run magazine. This means that 100% of all revenue from sales on any platform goes toward paying authors. We spend about $1,000 to $1,500 to produce each issue. Your donation is greatly appreciated!

Simultaneous Submissions & Response Times

We do accept simultaneous submissions, as long as you notify us up front and you are submitting it to a market that also accepts simultaneous submissions. If a story you have submitted to us gets picked up elsewhere, just send us an email letting us know. No worries!

We aim to respond to your submission in eight weeks or less. If it’s been longer than eight weeks and you haven’t heard back from us, please reach out via email.

Multiple Submissions

Please only submit a maximum of one work of fiction at a time.

Please submit each work separately.

Unless we specifically ask you to send us revisions, please do not resubmit stories that we have previously passed on.

How to Submit

  1. Prepare your story in a format that is legible. If in doubt, use the industry-standard Shunn Modern Format. At a minimum, your submission should include:
    • Your name (what we should call you)
    • Your contact email (where we will send our response)
    • The title of your story
    • Your byline
  2. Submit your story through Submission Bee here.

Questions or Comments

If you have any questions about our submissions process, please reach out to Sami directly: sami at protonreader dot com.

If you have any issues with Submission Bee or submitting your story, or are interested in learning more about using Submission Bee as your own submission manager, Jesse would be glad to hear from you: jesse at protonreader dot com.