Submission Guidelines

Edited November 12, 2012

NOTE- Escape Pod is, and has been for over a year, an audio and electronic publication. If you are not cleared to sell nonexclusive electronic rights to your story yet, PLEASE do not submit to us until you are able to!

Escape Pod is always looking for fun quality science fiction to feed our listeners. If you’re a writer with a speculative short story that you’d like to hear narrated by a very talented performers, we’d like to see it.

TL:DR Version

  • We like good science fiction, preferably “fun” and humorous.
  • We buy reprints and new fiction.
  • We pay $.03 a word for reprints, and $.05 a word for original fiction. We are a nonexclusive audio and ebook market.
  • We are a SFWA-recognized pro publication, meaning new sales with us count toward membership to SFWA.
  • We do not accept: poetry, novellas, scripts, or serial fiction. And if you happen to hear any of these on Escape Pod, they were solicited from the author and not submitted.
  • We do not accept attachments. Please paste plain text into your email with NO line breaks.
  • We distribute under a Creative Commons license. This is non-negotiable.

Want all the facts? Keep reading…

What We Want

EP is a science fiction magazine. We’re very broad-minded in our vision of the genre’s scope; we follow Damon Knight’s definition, “Science fiction means what we point to when we say it.” We’re not going to pin ourselves down and say we’re only looking for space opera, or cyberpunk, or stories with rigorous scientific background. We want all of those, of course; but in a more general sense we want that which evokes a sense of wonder, or fun, or simply makes us think about our own world in a new way.

Escape Pod is not looking for horror or fantasy. Please send horror stories to our sister podcast, Pseudopod, edited by Shawn Garrett; and send fantasy stories to our other sister podcast, PodCastle, edited by Dave Thompson and Anna Schwind. We don’t share our slushpiles, so if you send to one market and we feel it’s appropriate for another, we’ll simply ask you to resubmit over there. No hard feelings if that happens. We also do not buy poetry. Or your serial novel/novella. Or scripts.

Please do not send simultaneous submissions of a single story to multiple Escape Artists podcasts (Escape Pod, PodCastle, and Pseudopod). When submitting to one Escape Artists podcast, please wait to hear back about it before submitting the same story to another.

We’re primarily interested in short fiction. We want short stories between 2,000 and 6,000 words. The sweet spot’s somewhere between 3,500 and 5,000 words. We pay $.05 a word for new fiction at this length, $.03 a word for reprints. ($100 minimum payment) We do buy flash fiction, on occasion, and pay the same rates. ($20 minimum)

Notice- we do buy reprints!

Content: We’re looking for fiction with strong pacing, well-defined characters, engaging dialogue, and clear action. It can be beautiful too, if you’ve got all those other bases covered, but above all we’re looking for fun. Humor is encouraged. Upbeat, optimistic stories are encouraged. Moody, depressing stories are not rejected out of hand, but we do buy fewer of them. People often listen to these on their way to work, and we’d prefer not to ruin anyone’s day.

We are unlikely to purchase stories focusing on rape, incest, child molestation, body mutilation, hate crimes, unsubtle religious or anti-religious propaganda, or current politics. We don’t need the headaches, and frankly, it’s very unlikely that your story is fun in the sense we mean. We will not balk at sexual content or strong language, but if your story is primarily erotic or scatological in nature, it may not be for us.

Again, above all: fun stories. You can get away with breaking almost any of these rules if the story is fun enough. What’s fun? We know it when we see it.

How We Want It

We accept stories in e-mail, not attachments, in plain text format, at the address submit@escapepod.org. We don’t want attached files, PDF files, scanned images of a book, or sound files of you reading the story. Messages with any such attachments will get deleted. Send it from the e-mail address at which you want us to correspond with you; if you give us three e-mail addresses and say “Use this one on Tuesdays, and this one when Neptune is ascendant,” we’ll probably forget.

On the Subject: line of the message, be sure to include the title of the story. Most of our workflow involves bouncing your e-mail message from one folder to another, and we use the e-mail subject to identify the story. A subject like “story submission” doesn’t tell us anything we don’t already know.

In the body of the message, what we want is as follows:

1. Your name. (Your real name. The story can have a different byline, and we’ll credit that byline in public, but we need to know who’s legally offering us this story and to whom the check should be written.)
2. Your mailing address. (We need this for contract purposes; it will be kept confidential.)
3. A cover statement briefly giving us your publication credits, and in particular telling us whether this story has been published before or adapted into audio. If there’s anything we need to know about available rights, tell us that too. This is helpful for us to have this information if we buy your story and want to know more about you for bio purposes. (Note: When we say “briefly,” we mean your top five or six publications. We have literally had people send us resumés that were longer than the story submitted. This only makes us sigh.)
4. The word count of the story, according to your word processing software.
5. The title of the story.
6. The story’s byline. (Optional if it’s the same as your legal name.)
7. The text of the story. Use single spacing, with blank lines between paragraphs and _underscores_ for emphasis.

And please, we beseech you in the name of all appropriate deities, one story at a time! Unless you’re specifically told otherwise, this is the rule at every fiction market. Once we’ve responded to your story, you can send us another, but dropping all forty-seven stories you’ve ever written on us at once is not going to put us in a receptive mood.

What You’re Telling Us

This is the annoying (but necessary) legalese. By sending us your story you understand and agree that:

* You are the original creator of the work submitted to us;
* You are the copyright holder of the work;
* You are not prohibited by any prior agreement from the transfer of non-exclusive electronic and audio rights to the work;
* All information in the contact and cover sections of your e-mail is accurate and truthful;
* You accept sole responsibility for any false statements or encumbrances upon rights not disclosed to us.

If we buy your story we’ll send you a contract, and you’ll be bound to all of the above. So if you aren’t willing to agree to it now, you’re just wasting our time, and we have little enough of that already.

What We Do With It

Once you’ve sent us your story, we will review it and respond to you via e-mail.

If we decide we’d like it for our podcast, we’ll send you a contract as a PDF file in e-mail. You will sign it and send it back to us via e-mail (after scanning it), fax, or postal mail. Then we’ll pay you via check or PayPal and start producing.

Escape Pod pays $.05 a word for new fiction, $.03 a word, min $100, for reprints, and $20 for flash fiction.

During the production process we may contact you with questions about the story, its background, or pronunciations. We’ll also ask you for a brief bio, if your cover letter doesn’t give us enough to say about you. We hope and expect that you’ll be available to help us, as a good performance makes all of us look good. Unfortunately, as everything we do is on a somewhat fluid schedule, we usually can’t give you an accurate timetable of when your story will appear in the podcast.

What the World Does With It

The files Escape Pod produces are released under a Creative Commons license. Specifically, we use the Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives license. Briefly, this means that the entire world has permission to distribute the files for free, provided they give credit for it, don’t try to make money off of it, and don’t change it in any way. Transcribing it, extracting portions from it beyond fair use, and mashing it up are all prohibited. This license applies *only* to our audio performance and epublishing of your work, for which we’ve contracted and paid you. It does not apply to your story itself; you retain your copyright and all rights to any other use of the story.

We’ve had some questions about this from the writing community, so we’d like to make our reasoning clear. We know that Creative Commons licensing is scary to many writers, and it’s certainly a radical break from traditional rights that expire after a period of time. Our take is this: when we create a podcast, we are putting an MP3 file and an epub file on the Web. Those files are going to get downloaded and copied onto thousands of hard drives, CDs, iPods, and other portable devices across the world. That’s the point. We want people to listen to it. But once you’ve done that, you can’t take that file back. There is no way to delete the file everywhere it exists. There are some highly fallible ways to lock things down, but DRM sucks, and even if we believed in it it’s too complicated for us to implement.

So from a purely practical perspective, we can’t make our content expire. And we can’t stop people from copying our files, nor should we. Given that reality, why not give our listeners to the full legal right to do what’s totally natural for an audio file (copy it, share it with people, and listen to it whenever they want), but make equally clear to them what they can’t do (share the story outside the podcast, or alter it in any way at all)? That’s our reason for the Creative Commons license. We’re not trying to plant a philosophical flag in the ground here; we’re just trying to reflect reality.

We hope you’ll agree with our reasons and choose to share your story with us. If you don’t, then we’re deeply sorry, but we feel it’s better that you know this now, before you make the decision to submit.

Any questions?

Whew! If you’ve read this far, pat yourself on the back. Or get a friend to pat you. You’re amazing. We know it’s a lot to digest, but we’ve had very good luck so far with people submitting exactly within our guidelines. This only shows what brilliant, brilliant people science fiction writers are. (Or perhaps we’re just successful because we flatter.)

If you have questions, comments, suggestions, or criticism (but not stories) send them to our staff at feedback@escapepod.org. We’ll do our best to get back to you within a few days.

Thanks very much for your time, and we look forward to reading — and hopefully speaking — what you’ve got!