Inner Workings

Why We Don’t Expect Writers to be Public Figures

Why We Don’t Expect Writers to be Public Figures

As social media gained popularity, publishers and agents began expecting writers to come with their own platforms and share themselves and their lives online in service of building a customer base. At The Dread Machine, we don’t.

Alin Walker
On April 16, 2021


How are submissions reviewed?

We utilize an entirely blind review system. Every submission put before our Gatekeepers has been stripped of the author’s identifying details. None of us (Alin and Monica included) have any clue who wrote the submission. Only after a submission has been accepted do we learn the author’s identity. This system creates a level playing field. Stories must stand on their own merit, separate from the author’s name, reach, and professional accomplishments.

How many stories are published from the slush pile?

All of them, aside from the dozen or so reprints we solicited from their authors shortly after we launched. These solicited reprints were purchased to show the breadth of our team’s taste so authors could get a better idea of the kind of content we’re looking for. We may periodically solicit reprints if we feel a particular story would help push The Dread Machine in a new direction or showcase the kind of writing we want to see more of, but routinely soliciting isn’t something we do.

Do you have a private or "backdoor" submission portal?

We do have a secret portal. We don’t use it to facilitate favoritism but to separate solicited reprints from Anthology and Machination submissions. Each submission form on our site appends appropriate categories (for example, stories submitted through the anthology form are categorized with “Anthology,” general submissions are categorized with “Machination,” and solicited reprints are categorized with “Solicited Reprint,” etc.).

How many stories do you publish annually?

It depends. We publish stories every Tuesday and Thursday, so at the very least, we publish 96 stories each year. However, we publish poetry, flash, and micro in bundled releases that contain anywhere from 3-5 pieces, so the actual number might end up closer to 120-130.

How many of the stories that you publish are reprints?

We’re a baby pub right now, with a small team and a limited budget. About half the stories we publish are reprints, and that is by design. We would love to be able to publish original fiction entirely, but we’re not in a place where we can afford to—yet.

Why don't you have a shortlist?

We had a shortlist during our first few months of operation, but did away with it once we realized it was slowing us down and growing too long to manage. Now, we take a more decisive approach to submissions. Stories are accepted or declined. Once accepted, those stories are immediately contracted.

Do you have an author blacklist?

Absolutely. Submitting rape fantasies disguised as “stories” (or anything else that would put you or us on a federal watch list) is a quick way to get your name on it.


Q1, 2021

This quarter, we received nearly 1,500 submissions. We published 25 of them. Half were reprints, intentionally solicited to clearly define our style (and keep our budget in check).


Q4, 2020

As Q4, 2020 was our first quarter in operation, these stats are also our annual stats for 2020. They reflect data for submissions that came in during our pre-launch period.


Annual, 2020

This data might not be entirely meaningful, as we transitioned from a token market to a semi-pro market mid-quarter, which required us to change word-count restrictions.

Word Count

Total Published

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