Inner Workings

F.A.Q.

How are submissions reviewed?

Learn about our submission evaluation protocol here.

How many stories do you publish annually?

We publish at least 52 poems, micro, and flash pieces, plus 52 short stories each year.

How many stories are published from the slush pile?

All of them, aside from the dozen or so reprints we solicited from their writers shortly after we launched. These solicited reprints were purchased to show the breadth of our team’s taste so writers 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 anymore.

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.

Do you ever send personal rejections?

To keep response times prompt (and because we don’t have the capacity), we do not send personal rejections. Our submission management system (Moksha) allows us to easily send our standard rejection form at the push of a button. Once it becomes clear that a submission isn’t a good fit for us, we hit that button, notifying the writer and removing the story from our queue.

We do not check to see who the author is, because blind means blind.

Our standard rejection form reads:

Dear Writer,

Unfortunately, we have decided not to accept “Your Submission” for publication, but thank you so much for submitting to The Dread Machine.

We exist to serve dark speculative fiction writers and elevate the genre. If you haven’t yet, you’re welcome to join our free Discord community where you can meet other writers and publishing professionals. We’ve also pulled together a Resources page where you can find similar markets that might be interested in picking up “Your Submission.”

Please don’t hesitate to submit to us in the future!

Sincerely,
The Dread Machine Editors

The closest you will ever get to receiving a personal rejection is receiving our Highest-Tier Form. (Capitalized here as a proper noun because we consider it a big deal.) These forms are rarely ever sent, and they come directly from our Executive Editor. This form reads:

Dear Writer,

Thank you for submitting “Your Submission” to The Dread Machine. We won’t be accepting this one, but we liked it a lot, and we want to read more from you.

To process submissions efficiently, we don’t send personals, so this is a form. (Nobody loves a form.) But you should know that your story made it all the way to the Executive Editor’s desk. Very few stories get that far, so receiving one of these forms is an accomplishment and we hope you consider it one.

Thanks again for sending us your story. We hope to see another from you soon.

Sincerely,

Alin Walker
Executive Editor
The Dread Machine

Why is a Discord invitation in your rejections?

We have a very active community of kind, supportive, friendly, and inclusive writers who generously share their experiences and advice, the majority of whom joined us after seeing the invitation in a form rejection. We like meeting cool new people, so we extend the invitation in all of our forms. (It’s also in our email signatures.)

Those who are offended by the invitation probably shouldn’t join.

2022 Submission Statistics

This year, we received a total of 4,009 submissions! While this number is 952 submissions higher than last year, it is actually a lower number than it otherwise would have been (by about 200), because we closed for the last two weeks of December.

Q1

This quarter, we received 479 submissions. We accepted 7 of them.

ACCEPTED 1.56 %
FROM SLUSH 100 %
REPRINTS 0.42 %
0 DAYS
Average Response Time

Q2

This quarter, we received 1,394 submissions. We accepted 18 of them.

ACCEPTED 1.29 %
FROM SLUSH 100 %
REPRINTS 0.14 %
0 DAYS
Average Response Time

Q3

This quarter, we received 1,235 submissions. We accepted 19 of them.

ACCEPTED 1.54 %
FROM SLUSH 100 %
REPRINTS 0 %
0 DAYS
Average Response Time

Q4

This quarter, we received 901 submissions. We accepted 23 of them.

ACCEPTED 2.55 %
FROM SLUSH 100 %
REPRINTS 0.11 %
0 DAYS
Average Response Time

2021 Submission Statistics

This year, we received a total of 3,057 submissions!

Q1, 2021

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

ACCEPTED 5 %
FROM SLUSH 72 %
REPRINTS 48 %

(These stats include Mixtape: 1986.)

Q2, 2021

This quarter, we received 783 submissions. As submission quality has continued to improve, our market has become far more competitive.

ACCEPTED 1.4 %
FROM SLUSH 100 %
REPRINTS 0.26 %

(These stats include Mixtape: 1986.)

Q3, 2021

This quarter, we received 355 submissions. As opposed to prior quarters, we did not promote our submissions page in any way.

ACCEPTED 3.66 %
FROM SLUSH 100 %
REPRINTS 0.56 %
0 DAYS
Average Response Time

Q4, 2021

This quarter, we received 419 submissions. Poetry accounted for 56 of those, and 38 were reprints. Again, we did not promote our submissions page in any way.

ACCEPTED 3.82 %
FROM SLUSH 100 %
REPRINTS 0 %
1 0 DAYS
Average Response Time

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