Helpful Links

For aspiring writers, it can be hard to navigate a hyper-competitive and driven field, especially in genre fiction. If you want to see examples of speculative fiction stories, poems, art, reviews, and more; or if you're simply looking for new reading material, one of the best places to head is to Strange Horizons, one of the most prestigious and famous spec-fic publications out there today. They feature a range of easily accessible forms of amazing writing.

On their fiction submissions guidelines page, they have also linked a page titled, "Stories We've Seen Too Often," which is precisely what it sounds like. It's a long list to keep track of, but it's a good starting point. Don't feel discouraged, though—you don't want to feel like you're jumping hoops while writing. Just use the list as a guideline.

Lastly, there should be more contests and publications for young writers to show off their speculative fiction, and here we will list some of them. These are all free to enter.

  • You've probably already heard about Scholastic, but just a friendly reminder. 
  • Up to 3000 words in Science Fiction & Fantasy

  • Youth divisions for writers 13 years old, or 14-16 years old
  • Fiction 5000 words or less 
  • They also accept graphic novels!

  • Probably the biggest sci-fi/fantasy contest. Only open to emerging writers, and you can submit prose up to 17,000 words 
  • 4 quarters each starting on the first of October, Jan, April, July 
  • This contest is very competitive, but young writers have placed in it before.

Parsec Short Story Contest
  • Annual theme
  • Up to 3500 words 
  • Open to non-professional writers; feedback provided to entries 

  • Fantasy themes/prompts for each month
  • Winners are decided by vote


There are tons of fantastic publications to seek out high-quality speculative work from both emerging and published authors. Here are a few of them:

Cover Letters

While Wintermute doesn't require cover letters, many other publications do. A great guide on writing cover letters can be found on The Adroit Journal website.

Concise, friendly, with a personal touch.

Author Bios

If I had to put author bios down to a formula, it would be: a quick rundown of accolades and accomplishments, with a touch of humor or personal information. The best ones are usually pretty short. I know, way harder than it sounds. Here are a few examples:

"BRIAN DOYLE is the muddled maundering mumbling muttering shuffling shambling humming editor of Portland Magazine, in Oregon. He is the author of many books of essays and fiction, among them the sprawling Oegon novel Mink River. His new 'whopping sea novel' The Plover will be published in April 2014 by St Martin's Press."

This one's from The Kenyon Review. I guess it shows that this guy, like, knows words. A lot of them. And it feels strangely relatable.

Michael Siemsen is the USA Today Bestselling author of 6 novels, including The Dig, A Warm Place to Call Home (a demon’s story), and Exigency. He lives in Northern California with “the wife,” “the kids,” “the dog,” “that cat,” and he occasionally wears pants. His latest release, RETURN, is the third book in his #1 bestselling Matt Turner series.

This one's from a regular, "best author bios" website. It's a little meta and in the beginning he gets his accolades out of the way.

And this one's just a weird one:

“Eric Carle invented writing, the airplane, and the internet. He was also the first person to reach the North Pole. He has flown to Mars and back in one day, and was enthusiastically greeted by the Martians. 'Very strange beings,' he reported on his return. He has written one thousand highly regarded books; a team of experts is presently attempting to grasp their meaning. 'It might take a century,' said the chief expert. Carle is also a great teller of stories — but not all of them are true, for instance those in this book.”

This is a speculative fiction publication, so don't be afraid to get creative. Tell us what planet you're from and how many bones you have. But if that's not working out for you, there's nothing wrong with a straightforward, clean, factual bio. It sounds very professional.