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Science Fiction & Fantasy







Non-Fiction Guidelines

Non-Fiction Guidelines

Clarkesworld Magazine is looking for articles of interest to readers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. We are looking for a wide range of types of article including, but not limited to: discussions of the genre publishing business, essays on the writing process and the reading experience, scientific material that might be of use in SF stories, and so on. However, please see below for things that we don't want. We pay 10¢ a word up to our word limit of 2500 words.

Please do not send completed articles. Instead send a query letter with the subject header NONFICTION QUERY: [title or concept] to There are no response times. We will generally only respond to queries we wish to follow-up on. A follow-up email should not be taken as a guarantee of publication.

There are some common types of non-fiction article that we are specifically not interested in receiving queries for. These are:

  1. Reviews — there are plenty of places that publish such material, we don't;
  2. Literary Criticism — again no (especially if it is really just a review);
  3. Interviews — we do publish interviews, but they are handled separately from the non-fiction articles and are generally commissioned. Please do not pitch interviews to us.
  4. Reprints — every article we publish must be original to Clarkesworld. There is no point in sending us material that has already been published elsewhere, especially if it is elsewhere online.

As with any field, there are some subjects that have been done to death, or which don't work well in practice. The following list should give you an idea of the sort of thing that is unlikely to make it out of the slush pile:

  1. Explanations as to why your favorite genre or sub-genre is the best ever, and everything else is rubbish — because the chances are that most people won't share your opinion;
  2. Anything that attempts to categorize genre literature — yes, we have a lot of geeky analytical readers, but the chances of your coming up with something genuinely innovative are very low indeed;
  3. Convention reports — because all too often they end up sounding like "what I did on my holidays", and anyway we are not interested in the process of convention running;
  4. Articles about why a certain set of awards "got it wrong" — because no one ever agrees with award results;
  5. Articles about why someone is WRONG on the Internet and how we must organize a grass roots campaign to stop this perfidy — because we are not a blog and with our production schedules everyone will have forgotten about the issue by the time we publish your rant;
  6. Articles that purport to provide 10 rules for success/failure in a particular endeavor — because no set of rules fits everyone, real life isn't that simple, and in any case if you shoe-horned your advice into a "magic" number like 10 then you've probably either left something important out or padded the list;
  7. Articles that list the 10 best/worst/hottest/daftest/weirdest/whatever examples of something (or any number other than 10);
  8. Your personal experience of alien abduction — because then it would not be science fiction, would it?
  9. Articles that make sweeping generalizations on the basis of a few personal observations — it may well be that the market for fantasy is the worst it has ever been, and that this is all the fault of global capitalism and the Internet, but you need to supply some data to back that up, and explain why "ever been" does not include the time before the publication of The Lord of the Rings;
  10. Details of the heinous and all-pervasive plot by the publishing industry that has prevented your blockbuster 10-volume fantasy trilogy from being published — because the chances are that it is you that is out of step, not the rest of the world;
  11. Manifestos for new literary movements.

In addition, here are a few comments about the style of articles that we prefer:

  1. Keep yourself out of the article. We are looking for objective analysis of issues, not touchy-feely journalism;
  2. We are not an academic journal. Footnotes are fine, indeed we like them (though we don't include them in the word count), especially if they come with web links. However, you need to pitch your writing style for a general audience, not for a group of fellow scientists or literature professors;
  3. Please, no interviews in disguise. An article about the work of an individual, stuffed with quotes from that individual, is functionally equivalent to an interview. An article that is mainly quotes from a group of people is functionally equivalent to an interview. We want your words, no someone else's;
  4. Don't bait the audience. There's a certain style of article that deliberately seeks to incite rage across the blogosphere. We are not that desperate for eyeballs;
  5. Make sure you know your topic. If you are going to write about quantum physics, bear in mind that we probably have several quantum physicists reading this magazine and they will laugh at you (and us) if we run an article full of errors. You don't have to have a PhD in the topic before you write for us, and we'd be happy to find someone to fact-check for you, but we do need to ensure articles are not an embarrassment to us, or to you.

Finally, what do we like to see?

  1. Articles that are thoughtful, in-depth, and well-written;
  2. Subjects that we haven't covered before;
  3. Accompanying illustrations (but please do check the copyright situation);
  4. A clear passion for the subject matter.

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