In order to gain maximum exposure to the English-speaking world, new issues appear daily (generally) at 10:00 a.m. CDT (US)/ 4:00 p.m. BST/ 8:30: p.m. IST/ 1:00 a.m. AEST. This daily issue usually consists of a short story and/or poem.
There is no pay for any submission at this time. All rights remain with the author.
There is no submission fee or submission period.
The Chamber accepts submissions 24/7/365.
Use firstname.lastname@example.org for queries and submissions.
Submit everything by e-mail either in the body of the e-mail or a Word document (.doc or .docx).
In the subject line of your email, please put the title, genre, and author just as they are in the subject line for every story or poem as you see them on the homepage. These will then act as keywords in searches to help readers find your story or poem(s).
Here are some genres you might use in your email subject line: mainstream, literary, science-fiction, fantasy, horror, grimdark, suspense/thriller, action-adventure, experimental, gothic, Southern gothic, neo-noir, noir, transgressive, magical realism, macabre, mystery/crime, cyberpunk, et cetera. You are not limited to these; use whatever you think most appropriately describes or categorizes your work. The more specific your keywords, the easier it is for a reader to find you work.
Be professional. The less editing I must do, the more likely you are to be published. In my experience, this is true of all publishers.
I reserve the editorial rights necessary to make minor changes needed for clarity (such as to correct typos and misspellings). I will never make revisions or major edits. It’s much simpler and easier to just reject the work or ask for a rewrite.
I will try to respond to submissions as quickly as possible, but please allow a couple of weeks before querying about your article/story. If I accept your submission, I will publish it as soon as possible, probably within a few weeks. This depends on the submissions backlog and other factors.
Do not submit fan fiction.
Keep profanity to a minimum. I would like to reach as large an audience as possible.
Gratuitous sex, extreme violence, violence to children, rape and anything else that offends my personal sensibilities or anything that skirts the boundaries of the law will not be published.
Always re-check the guidelines before you submit. They may change without prior notice.
Interviews are by invitation only. However, if you have conducted a short interview of an author (or artist/illustrator) of horror or dark fiction, I will be happy to consider it for publication.
Dark Short Stories and Dark Poems:
I am looking for articles, reviews, essays, dark poems, and dark short stories of approximately 7,500 words or less including flash fiction, micro fiction, nano fiction, postcard fiction, sudden fiction, smoke longs, dribbles, drabbles, short shorts, six-word stories, mini-sagas, creepypastas, or of any flavor of short fiction that demonstrates the art of writing dark stories. If in doubt about what I publish, query or simply submit it.
Be aware that if you submit poems, WordPress has only a crude capability to format poetry and the space available on a page is basically a narrow column.
Articles and Essays:
Articles/essays of approximately 7,500 words or less on the art of writing dark fiction or on writing in general. Articles/essays on foreign dark fiction and horror are encouraged.
Book and Movie Reviews:
The more recently published or distributed the better, but I will consider reviews of classic works of dark fiction all the way back to Walpole (and before if sufficiently interesting). These must be approximately 7,500 words or less also.
Translations of articles, essays, stories, poems, reviews, etc. from French, German, Spanish and/or any other language are considered. In this case, the 7,500 word limit applies to only the English translation.
Please submit in some form of Word, if possible. Google docs is okay. WordPress works well translating some software but not others. If in doubt, submit it. If it doesn’t work with Word, I will let you know. Please try not to submit your story or poem in some obscure software.
Be aware that WordPress has only a crude capability to format poetry. The simpler a poem’s format, the easier it will be to publish it. One tactic you might use (though I haven’t tried it) is to use Word to divide a page into two columns and format your poem to fit into one column.
Use standard manuscript format (paragraphs together with first line indented) or flush left with a space between paragraphs. In both cases the right edge should be ragged. Please, please, please don’t mix the two in one document. My preference is for flush left, but being old school, I like the traditional standard manuscript format too. This makes it easier for me to copy and paste into the website and easier for readers to grasp. I try not to tinker with format, because it is time-consuming, and each author should be able to use their own idiosyncrasies.
Having all stories in an issue formatted the same appears professional. Either of these two links provide excellent advice for formatting a short story: “Story Writing Format: How to Format a Short Story + Examples and Templates” at Scribophile or “Proper Manuscript Format / Shunn” at Shunn.net.
Please include in your cover letter a short bio of approximately fifty words (more or less) in the third person. It may include your website, twitter handle, or any other social media identification you like. You may also want to include your hometown and any keywords you think readers would find useful in locating your work. Please don’t send a long laundry list of publication credits. Pick the credits that you are most proud of and include those.
Pseudonyms are fine, but please state them as the byline and include your actual name and contact info in the top left of the first page of the submission per standard manuscript format.
You may submit up to three stories or poems at once. Once you have submitted, please wait until you have heard about that submission before submitting more.
I will take simultaneous submissions but be professional and withdraw your work if it has been accepted elsewhere before being published here.
Reprints are okay but tell me when and where the article/story/poem was most recently published. You may include this in your submission or bio.
What kind of dark fiction and poetry does The Chamber want?
The classic of Chinese Taoist philosophy, the Tao T’eh Ching, opens with (depending on the translation): “The way that can be named is not the true way,” Tao being Chinese for way, and meaning, in a broad, nebulous sense, the way of life or the way of the world or the way of the universe or simply a path. To me, with my, at best, rudimentary smattering of philosophy, this means that words cannot express the Tao/ the way; it is something that one must feel and experience and understand only on an intuitive level. Any attempt to express it in words is doomed to failure.
This is like how I choose dark short stories and poems to include in The Chamber. The work must have a dark feel about it, though how to express that is problematic. It’s not necessarily horror. It can be noir or hard-boiled detective or sad or mystifying or any of a thousand other descriptors. It’s something that, although you can’t express it, you know it when you see it. It’s like trying to describe the taste of vodka or describing a sunny day to someone who is blind.
The late Jimmy Buffett (requiescat in pace) once said “never try to describe the ocean if you’ve never seen it.” Of my ten years in the US Navy, I spent three years, one month, and one day at sea. I spent many of my days ashore looking at the sea. Jimmy B. was right. It’s hard to describe the ocean to someone who has never seen it, because they just can’t grasp the feeling of power and eternity that it radiates. So, it is with communicating the idea of literary darkness, IMHO.
How do you discern then that your short story or poem is dark enough for The Chamber? If you feel it’s dark, it’s dark enough. If your friends can read it without knowing what feelings it is supposed to get across, and they say, “Sh*t! This is dark!” It’s dark enough. Submit it. If I do not accept your work, use the opportunity to re-read it dispassionately and ask yourself, “how can I improve this?” In my experience, that’s one of the best ways of learning to write well.
Free Advice to Take for What It’s Worth
Critique your own works dispassionately, honestly, and fairly. Read good literature to develop a feel for what good literature is. For me, knowing what good literature is, is also like the Tao, one can only sense it; verbal descriptions are inadequate.
Other than that, the main things I look for in dark fiction and poetry are excellent, well-crafted, powerful writing. I have a predilection for lean, muscular writing, though I may work with the author on this to some small degree if the story is powerful enough on the intellectual and emotional levels.
And as you will always hear from all other publishers, read a few issues and read the guidelines.
For more information on what constitutes dark literature, visit The Chamber’s Lexicon of Dark Literature.
Your Support is Needed: Help Us Help You
As your only payment from The Chamber is in exposure, help both us and you out by publicizing your story or poem as much as you can. Linking to it from your website or anywhere else helps us both (Google loves links to websites).
/s/ Phil Slattery, Publisher, Editor-in-Chief, Chief Cook and Bottle-Washer, Head Honcho, Gofer, and HMFIC of The Chamber
This page was last updated on September 19, 2023.
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