Wicked Hollow (The Journal of Dark Literature)
Current Estimated E-mail Submission Response Time: 8-9 weeks
Current Estimated Postal Submission Response Time: 3-4 months
Presently Reading Poetry For: 1 Slot in #10
Presently Reading Fiction For: 3 or 4 Slots in #10
Wicked Hollow is always open to submissions of dark literature, poetry, and potential cover illustrations.
When Wicked Hollow first opened to submissions in mid-2001, my basic mission statement here in the guidelines was: bring everything. If it's horror I want to see it, regardless of whatever genres it might also tickle, whether it be science fiction, fantasy, mystery, romance, etc. But times change.
It has become clear over time that my broad definition of horror isn't shared by all. While I consider horror to rely upon characterization and atmosphere, the common horror field -- its editors, its publishers, its writers, and its readers -- seem to rely upon what I could consider overdone, overly familiar storylines with oftentimes overlooked characters and no atmosphere whatsoever. It has begun to be whispered to me and around me that Wicked Hollow is no horror magazine at all, instead a magazine of dark fantasy, or dark literature, or gothic literature, or whatever that specific person feels is an appropriate label for the contents herein. When an issue of Wicked Hollow received a semi-negative review strictly on the grounds it wasn't horror, I decided it was time for a change in marketing.
I tell you all this because I feel it's only fair the authors seeking to contribute to the magazine understand its motivation, its direction. My editorial decisions are not and will not be affected, I will continue to purchase what I consider to be accomplished, emotive dark fiction, be it horror, dark fantasy, general fiction, gothic, or otherwise. The magazine's subtitle, on the other hand, will change (to The Journal of Dark Literature) as will its marketing direction to some extent. Wicked Hollow will be further marketed to more readers of general fiction, in particular those who prefer fiction of a darker bent, and readers of dark fantasy and gothic fiction.
Wicked Hollow has no interest in trends. Nor in labels. I'm not looking for the (sub)genre that's hottest now. I'm not looking for what everyone else is buying. I'm looking for intelligent, dark literature and poetry. And Wicked Hollow, being the live, breathing creature that it is, has taken to molding for itself something of a niche. The spectrum of what I'm looking to buy has narrowed considerably. I am, after all, merely a sycophant to Wicked Hollow's desires.
Wicked Hollow is buying character-driven, atmospheric, emotive short stories. The most important attribute I'm looking for in each story and poem I read is whether or not it involves me, and subsequently the reader, emotionally. And the best way to do this to a reader is to give them a character onto which they can truly latch and ride. If your story doesn't take pride in developing its character, it's likely not a fit here.
To be more specific, I'm not buying many stories that are especially urbanized or futuristic. I want rural, I want atmospheric, I want despairing, I want strong characters, lush descriptions, good pace, pronounced settings, clear writing (no matter how descriptive it may be). As odd as this may read upon first glance, I don't want stories driven by the storyline. The best storyline falls short without good characters living it. You must present to me a believable character who can carry myself and Wicked Hollow's readers through the piece.
Wicked Hollow seems to take special pride in fence-riders, your stories the literary markets won't touch as horror and horror markets won't touch as too literary. Call it gothic, call it slipstream, call it literature, call it subtle horror, call it what you will. I thrive upon historical and/or foreign settings. Don't, on the other hand, think you stand a good chance with post-apocalyptic pieces, stories dealing with the internet or corporate life, Mythos, sci-fi terror, any of your typical beasts/creatures (vampires, werewolves, etc.), or for that matter any creature or beast that exists merely to destroy without mentality or purpose.
And for those of you who still want to tag the magazine as strictly horror (hell, so do I, but apparently my definition of horror is broader than most), not all horror has to frighten. It can disturb, enlighten, mystify, and spur many other emotions. I'm not looking just for scary stories. I'm looking for stories that catalyze any form of emotion in the reader, especially longing or despair.
The only true limit in Wicked Hollow's scope is word count. I can't use stories over 4,500 words. I'd love to, I've always had a soft spot for novelettes and longer short fiction, but the pocket-sized format won't allow WH to publish anything much longer than 4k without consuming too much space. That said, I don't like short-shorts or flash fiction, not for Wicked Hollow. You're welcome to send your stories less than 2,000 words, but I'm buying mostly between 2,000 and 4,500. Reprints will be considered but be sure to inform Wicked Hollow in your cover letter and let me know where it first appeared. Anything that appeared on the internet at a popular or archiving website, or anything that appeared in a highly visible print magazine is less likely to be bought since there's a better chance for reader crossover. Simultaneous submissions are discouraged. Multiple fiction submissions are not accepted. I receive far too many manuscripts to read two or three by one author at one time. Short story authors: please only send one story at a time. If you haven't heard back from me on your first submission within one month and would really like me to read a second, you can submit it then, but only after a month has passed since your first submission.
Wicked Hollow buys less than 3% of the manuscripts it receives. I'm looking for a very specific brand of fiction, and I will decline manuscripts until I see enough to fill an issue, even if it means pushing back the release date. Also, manuscripts are never accepted upon first read. Any manuscripts that seem a good match for Wicked Hollow are set aside for a week, maybe two, maybe a month, until a final decision has been made. As such, if you're used to getting a response time within a certain span and find suddenly you haven't heard back from me, it may be because I'm considering publishing your story or poem, so please don't query until three months have passed unless you have reason to suspect your submission never made it to my desk in the first place.
As for poetry and art, the same goes for poetry that goes for fiction. It should touch me on an emotional level, and anything with a gothic flair is a plus. Atmospheric. Lush descriptions. Submit up to five or six poems per batch. Reprints of poetry are not accepted unless the poem has not appeared in at least five years. And it should be said Wicked Hollow does not look at poetry as filler. I take poetry as seriously as I take fiction, and I want your best. Wicked Hollow has published one Rhysling Award nominated poem and had many others given honorable mentions in Year's Best Fantasy & Horror. Concerning art, I'm relatively stocked on staff illustrators but will consider bringing in another staff illustrator if the right talent comes along and is interested in doing story-specific work for Wicked Hollow. I'd like to see more artists submit concepts or finished pieces for future covers. I enjoy subtle, suggestive work as opposed to depictions of blood & guts & other unsightly things. No nudity or over-exaggerated bosoms (this isn't a comic book), and only works that will convert well into grayscale.
Wicked Hollow is a pocket-sized (4.25" x 5.5") journal approximately the size of a man's wallet. Each issue is at least eighty-four pages and features fiction, poetry, and art. Sample copies are $4 in the U.S., $5 to Canada, and $6 worldwide. You can order one quickly right here on the website. The 'zine is also available at ProjectPulp.com, Shocklines.com, Borderlands Books in San Francisco, Clarkesworld Books online, and Kayleighbug Books online.
You should also know and feel validated by the fact Wicked Hollow has met with great success. Out of its first five issues, four stories were recommended for a Stoker Award, one long poem was nominated for a Rhysling Award, one illustration was selected for inclusion in the highly-regarded Spectrum fantastic art anthology, in Vol. 9, and fourteen pieces were given honorable mentions in The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror. This is not your 'zine equivilant to a garage band that gigs around on weekends. This is a professionally treated, serious, highly regarded magazine, and the competition for inclusion is high.
Wicked Hollow pays 1/4 cent per word upon acceptance for fiction (with a minimum of $5) and $2 upon acceptance for poetry. You may also receive two extra contributor copies in lieu of payment for fiction, or one extra contributor copy in lieu of payment for poems.
Submissions are accepted via e-mail or postal, whichever is most convenient for you.
All electronic submissions must be accompanied by a short cover letter (including your address, phone number [in case I need to contact you regarding your submission on a short timeline], and a bio) and be embedded in the body of an e-mail. No attachments, period. All attached submissions will be sent back unread. When you embed your story, please double-space between paragraphs. And if you're submitting fiction, be sure to include a word count. For italics, make sure to denote them in some way, whether it's surrounding them by underscores or asterisks, but don't capitalize them.
Send electronic submissions to: firstname.lastname@example.org. In the subject line, be sure to include "Fiction Submission" for short stories or "Poetry Submission" for poems. Otherwise, your submission may wind up in the incorrect folder, meaning a longer wait for your response, or even accidentally deleted altogether (I receive hundreds of SPAM messages each day).
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