Unpublished fiction only: Up to 3 flash fictions of less than 1000 words each in one document, or 1 short story up to 8000 words. Times/Times Roman 12 point is preferred. A word count is appreciated. Submit via our Submittable portal only. No email or postal submissions please. Simultaneous submissions are expected and encouraged.
Please submit no more than once in each category (short story, flash) per issue. Authors whom we have published should wait one reading cycle before submitting again.
Orca publishes three times a year: the March and November issues are dedicated to literary fiction, and the July issue contains literary speculative work. See the Lit-Spec guidelines here.
Submissions are open year-round. We accept submissions of short fiction only. Orca is fee free for up to 100 submissions a month, which is what is covered in the Submittable plan we pay for. After that we charge the standard $3, which helps us pay our published writers. We encourage writers who can afford the fee to support those who can’t by selecting the pay option. Submission deadlines: March issue: Jan. 31; July issue: May 15; November issue: September 30.
We are open to any topic, as long as it’s written in a literary style. We are open to all writers, without prejudice or preference. We seek work that is high concept: imaginative, thoughtful, and open to possibilities. Give us deep, diverse characters. Blend genres. Connect seemingly disparate ideas. Keep it entertaining, but make us think. Originality will help your submission. If your story regards a topic that’s been published a lot, it’s probably not for us.
Simultaneous submissions are expected and encouraged.
Fee-free Submissions: We’ll respond at the end of the submission period.
Paid Submissions: We’ll respond as soon as we can, usually within a month.
If the story is not for us, you’ll get a form rejection (it’s a nice one, though). If we thought the story had merit, but it didn’t make the cut, we’ll probably write a personal note.
If you don’t hear from us within the timelines above, your story is still under consideration for an upcoming issue. But feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you haven’t heard from us by the stated timelines.
If you select Feedback Me! Orca will send you our readers’ comments on your submission. The comments will help you see why your story was or wasn’t selected for further consideration. More than just, “it wasn’t a good fit,” the comments will strive to provide constructive criticism and indicate areas of the story that might be revised. In most cases comments will be one or two paragraphs long. Comments are prepared by at least two readers on the Orca staff, and are reviewed by one of the senior editors prior to your receipt. These submissions are considered expedited, and you should receive a response within two weeks.
Our comments will be based on the portion of the submission actually read. For flash, and for some short stories that will mean the entire story. For other short stories it may be as little as three pages (but never less). Our editorial philosophy is that if a short story has not captured the reader’s interest after three pages, it is not a candidate for publication, and our staff readers can recommend it for decline.
Comments are not intended to start a dialogue about your work, and replies to them will not be acknowledged. In rare cases the readers and editors may feel they cannot provide constructive feedback. If this happens the submitter’s payment for this service will be refunded.
Payment of the Feedback Me! fee implies your consent to the above. Proceeds from the fees are split—half go toward paying our contributors, and half go to the Orca readers who commented.
Should you need to withdraw a full submission, please do so using
your Submittable account. If you are only withdrawing a part of your
submission (such as a single flash piece from a multi-story document),
email us at email@example.com and let us know.
Do not withdraw your story if you only intend to make changes to it. Instead contact us through Submittable or via email, and we will mark your submission as Open for Editing. You can then upload a revised story.
Orca pays $50 for short stories (>1000 words), $25 for flash fiction (<1000 words) for publication rights. We also provide a one-year pdf subscription to the journal. Print copies are available at a discount to contributors. We pay only via PayPal or Zelle, so you have to have an account. We cannot send checks.
Upon acceptance, Orca requests first North American Serial
Rights and First Digital Publication Rights. All rights revert to the
author upon publication. We ask that if the work is reprinted in a
collection or anthology that you indicate Orca, A Literary Journal as the original publisher in your acknowledgments.
NOTE: The rights above mean that once the issue is published, the rights to the work return to you. After we publish your work it can only be marketed as a reprint, which limits the number of markets that will accept it, and drastically reduces the pay rate it can receive.