The Dread Machine publishes futuristic dark fiction, speculative fiction, cyberpunk, slipstream, and science fiction. We do not accept religious fiction, fetish horror, or erotica. All submissions must be in English.
We will accept previously published submissions. If your story already appears online, it will only appear in our print edition, as publishing it on our site would negatively impact both our SEO and that of the other publisher. We have very few reprint slots, so we tend to prioritize reprints originally published in anthologies and now-defunct magazines.
We accept simultaneous submissions. If someone else snatches your submission up before we do, we’d appreciate it if you’d immediately remove it from our queue by withdrawing via Moksha.
We consider up to 3 POETRY submissions at once. Each poem must be submitted separately.
We DO NOT consider multiple STORY submissions in the same category. You may submit up to 1 original story and 1 reprint story at the same time.
We DO NOT accept unsolicited rewrites. Unless you are specifically asked to revise and resubmit, do not resubmit the same submission once it has been rejected. Rejections are final. This policy stands regardless of whether the submission has been edited or revised since its rejection.
We use an entirely blind submission review process. Remove all personal identifying information from your file before uploading. Put identifying information in your cover letter, not in the filename, header, and/or footer of your story. Our readers should not know your name, address, phone number, or email address, nor should they have a long list of your professional accomplishments or links to your social media profiles. Please remove this information entirely, or your submission will be rejected for not following the guidelines. This is a firm policy. In addition to valuing your privacy, we believe all writers deserve a fair shot. Stories must stand on their own, apart from the writer’s notoriety and achievements.
Please send only your best work. We’re a small team with a tight budget, but we’re committed to establishing a competitive brand known for publishing high-quality fiction. In service of that mission (and out of necessity), we are extremely selective and strategic about which submissions and authors we invest in. Before submitting, familiarize yourself with the content we have already published on the site. Ensure your submission is free of obvious typos and grammatical errors. Content should be well-written and avoid clichés. Not every ending has to be dreadful. We welcome dark stories with wholesome and happy conclusions, too!
We’re extremely unlikely to accept:
We won’t publish anything celebrating:
Word count limitations are based on our budget and not negotiable.
ORIGINAL FICTION: Up to 4,000 words.
REPRINTS: Up to 7,000 words.
POETRY: Up to 50 lines.
We strive to review all submissions within two months, but we sometimes run behind. Before inquiring about the status of your submission, we encourage you to check your submission status on Moksha.
Payment is calculated based on the word count of the final draft.
ORIGINAL FICTION: $0.05 per word.
ORIGINAL ENGLISH-LANGUAGE TRANSLATIONS: $0.05/word to the translator and $0.05/word to the author.
REPRINTS: $0.01 per word.
POETRY: $10 per poem.
Payment is sent via Paypal or Wise on the first Monday of the month a story is scheduled to be published. We do not utilize other third-party invoicing or payment apps (Square, Venmo, Wave, Intuit, etc.).
We take author and artist protections very seriously and do our absolute best to protect the content we publish. You’ll notice that you can’t make selections, drag and drop, right click, or download images. Should any of the works published here be ripped off in any way (we’re looking at you, YouTubers and podcasters), we’re willing to help creators seek justice and, if necessary, revenge. (We’re quite partial to arson, but we’re open to other options.)
You can read about our policies regarding the use of LLMs, CMMs, and other algorithmic “neural” networks, including those deceptively branded and inaccurately referred to as “AI” on our Inner Workings page. In summary:
Please do not email any of our editors asking why your story was declined. We have a large team of Gatekeepers who are responsible for reading submissions. The Executive Editor (Alin Walker) only sees stories that have been approved by the entire team, including both the Acquiring Editor (Monica Louzon) and the Managing Editor (Timothy Burkhardt).
To keep our response times as short as possible, all rejections (and acceptances) are forms. We understand that people dislike forms. Unfortunately, we don’t have the capacity to send personal responses. You can learn about our forms (and more) here.
There’s no Silicon Valley giant or venture capital lifeline here. The Dread Machine is a fiercely independent entity, fueled by the power of community and the love of written art.
Indie publishers like us are the lifeblood of the literary ecosystem. We push boundaries, take risks, and bring voices to the fore that might otherwise remain unheard.
Help us keep the gears of our grand enterprise turning. By choosing to support us, you’re becoming part of a movement, a revolution, a reimagining of what literature can be in the digital age. Join us and become indie scum, you dirty disco superstar.