Stories should be submitted to email@example.com. All stories must be under 1200 words (not including the title and byline). All stories over 1200 words will sadly be rejected automatically. All stories must contain significant speculative elements. This does not mean all sci-fi stories must have lasers and rockets. It just means a non-speculative story doesn’t become speculative if you include a single line clarifying the story takes place on Mars.
When to Submit
Because of the time needed to evaluate submissions and prepare stories for publication, Orion’s Belt has a limited submission window. We apologize for the inconvenience this may cause to you. Stories submitted outside the submission window will not be deleted, but they will not be read until the submission window re-opens.
Our current submission window closed September 1st.
The next submission window will open on March 1st, 2023.
Art submissions are currently open. We’re looking for cover art for issues of our magazine. Payment is a flat $25. The art should fit the ethos of this magazine and thus should feature speculative elements, but there are otherwise no major restrictions on what we’re looking for.
If you have artwork you would like us to consider, submit it to us with a subject line that’s some variation on the basic format of “Art Submission - Artwork Name (Artist’s Name).” All art submissions should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep in mind that we tend to take significantly longer to respond to art submissions than to story submissions, though we will eventually respond to every submission.
Orion’s Belt began as a prose magazine, but it expanded into poetry. All forms and styles of poetry are welcome. We encourage boundary-pushing, experimental poetry. What we care about is subject matter. Speculative elements must be significant. A non-speculative poem does not become speculative if you just add in a line or two about rockets and outer space. What “literary” means in the context of poetry is more difficult to define than in prose, but the focus of submissions should be on emotion and experience, not explaining scientific formulas or displaying complex worldbuilding.
Most of the other sections on this submissions page refer to “stories.” To clarify, this includes poetry as well. Poetry is as much a form of storytelling as is prose.
We ask that every poetry submission include only one poem apiece. Please refrain from submitting multiple poems in the same email.
For poetry, we strongly encourage you not to submit more than three times a month. Thus, we accept a maximum of three poems per calendar month. These submissions can be at any time during the month.
All submissions should be directed to email@example.com. The subject line of your email should be a variation of “Submission - Story Name (Author Name, Fiction/Poetry).” There is no need for submissions to be anonymous. Stories need not necessarily follow Standard Manuscript Format, but it is preferred. The font should be 12-point Times New Roman.
There is no hard limit to the number of times one can submit to Orion’s Belt, but we ask that you not submit more than twice in one month. Each submission should be sent in a separate email, though there is no need to wait to receive a response to the first submission before sending the second.
If Orion’s Belt rejects a story, please do not resubmit it, even if you revise it. Submitting a story simultaneously to Orion’s Belt and another publication is acceptable, but please contact us if another publication accepts the story first.
We only accept stories that have not already been published elsewhere.
A cover letter is expected. This needn’t be long or detailed. Attach the story to your email as a Word file or PDF. In the body of the letter, include your name, the title of your story, its length, its genre or subgenre, up to three previous publications, and any other information you deem relevant.
Response Times and Payment
We at Orion’s Belt try to answer the majority of fiction or poetry queries within a week. If we take longer, this typically means we’re seriously considering your story for publication. Because of our relatively brief response times, we unfortunately cannot always provide personalized feedback to writers.
While we appreciate the enthusiasm of authors asking about their stories, we must ask that you wait approximately two months before querying us. If two months have passed, and you still haven’t received a decision regarding your story, don’t hesitate to query the magazine at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If we accept your story, we will send you a contract in the form of a Word document. Send us back the contract with your name typed at the bottom, agreeing to the terms and conditions specified, and we will publish your story. After publication, you will receive payment via PayPal. Sadly, we cannot currently pay authors except through PayPal. If you cannot use PayPal or a like service, we recommend you not submit to Orion’s Belt.
We pay a flat 8 cents USD ($.08) per word. This is the industry-standard, SFWA-approved professional rate. Thus, if your story is 1000 words (not counting title, byline, etc.), you will receive $80 after publication. If your story is 500 words, you will receive $40. We treat poetry and prose as functionally identical for the purposes of payment. The pay for a 200-word poem will be the same as for a 200-word story.
What We Want
Literature is a matter of the heart, not just of the intellect. As such, conveying exactly what kinds of stories will delight us is impossible. A story that sounds banal and cliche-ridden in concept can be philosophical and achingly beautiful in execution. Conversely, a story that sounds lovely in concept can fail to move us in execution. Additionally, while we prize elegant, vibrant writing, not every well-written story will appeal to us.
The best way to know what we like is to read what we’ve published in the past. Our past issues are free to read under our “Issues” tab. If you’re only looking for individual stories, check our “Archives” tab. Reading stories published in Strange Horizons and Beneath Ceaseless Skies will also help, as they are the two most popular literary speculative magazines here at Orion’s Belt.
Nonetheless, there are tendencies, formats, and ideas we tend to appreciate. A complete list of these would be too long and granular to be of any real use, but here is an adequate summary:
Stories told through another medium; i.e., journal articles, mission reports, diary entries, etc. The more idiosyncratic and experimental a medium you use, the more likely we are to appreciate it.
Characters who are rogues or tricksters working outside oppressive bureaucratic systems.
Characters forced to make difficult decisions that may conflict with their moral codes.
Hard-won optimism, not to be confused with saccharine sentimentality.
Ecological storytelling that avoids clear answers or easy moralizing.
The blurring of lines between poetry and prose.
Extensive allusions to mythology or classic literature.
Non-linear stories, or other stories that play with our perception of time. Bringing in special or general relativity or quantum physics is a plus, though the focus should still be on the narrative, not on the science.
What We Don’t Want
Orion’s Belt is an open-minded literary magazine. There are very few well-written, well-crafted stories we won’t consider so long as they abide by our guidelines, but there are a few exceptions:
Stories using non-original copyrighted characters; e.g., fanfiction. There’s nothing wrong with these stories, but for legal reasons, we can’t publish them. Stories using public domain characters—Achilles, Captain Ahab, and the like—are fine, but there should be a good narrative reason why the story uses these characters.
Extreme sex and violence. While “extreme” is a subjective term, and we err on the side of being more lenient and accepting, we’re unlikely to publish stories that contain a level of sex and violence beyond that which would be typical for an R-rated film.
To reiterate, Orion’s Belt is a market for English-language speculative flash-fiction. We thus do not accept non-fiction or reporting, though fiction that incorporates elements of non-fiction and reporting is not only acceptable but encouraged.
There are certain types of stories we see too often. There are other types that don’t tend to incline themselves to the emotionally grounded literary-speculative storytelling we seek at Orion’s Belt. This section is about such stories.
These are guidelines, not rules. We’ve published stories that fit one or more of these classifications. This is emphatically not a “don’t submit stories like this” list. Rather, it is a service to writers seeking to submit to Orion’s Belt, allowing you to know what types of stories might be less likely to capture our attention:
Second-person narration. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s not our preference.
Robots or other artificially intelligent beings trying to understand human society.
Simplistic quest narratives wherein pure good triumphs over pure evil.
Stories with no easily definable source of conflict.
Stories that spend more time describing cool gadgets than focusing on character relationships.
“Ripped from the headlines” stories that will become dated quickly.
“It was all just a dream” twist endings. (Other kinds of twist endings are encouraged, however.)
Orion’s Belt pays for first worldwide electronic and print rights and for non-exclusive reprint rights. By submitting a story to us, you understand and agree with the following:
You are the original creator of the work you’re submitting.
You are the copyright holder of the work you’re submitting.
You are over eighteen years old.
All personal information you submit is accurate and truthful.
You accept the sole responsibility for any false statements made and any rights infringed upon.
You have not published this work elsewhere, nor are you otherwise prohibited via prior agreement from transferring the rights of your work to Orion’s Belt.
Once we publish a story in Orion’s Belt, you can no longer publish it as a first-run or “new” story. You cannot have it appear anywhere else in print or online for 120 days after it appears in Orion’s Belt. After 120 days, you can have it reprinted in print or online; e.g., in a reprint anthology, like a collection of the year’s best speculative fiction.
Orion’s Belt will line-edit accepted stories for the purpose of ensuring clarity and comprehension. This editing will be light. If we didn’t already love your story, we wouldn’t have accepted it. Please treat the editor with the same level of respect shown to you as the writer.
This magazine receives far more thoughtful and incisive stories from talented writers than we can publish. Because we publish only one prose story and one poem per month, we must reject stories we absolutely love. Please do not construe a rejection as a judgment on you as a writer, or even necessarily as a judgment on the story’s quality. It is an unfortunate but inevitable fact of this business that we can only accept a very small percentage of the stories we receive. Don’t let this discourage you from submitting to us the strangest and most experimental products of your creative mind.
Orion’s Belt is open to all writers of all backgrounds, regardless of your level of writing experience. Prior publications are not a prerequisite for publication in Orion’s Belt. Most importantly, don’t self-reject. If you’re unsure whether a story is right for Orion’s Belt, send it to us.
If you have any pressing questions about the submissions process, please contact us at email@example.com.
Best of luck!