Our latest Magazine Spotlight focuses on the highly successful Canadian magazine, On Spec:
"On Spec was launched in 1989 by the nonprofit Copper Pig Writers' Society to provide a voice-and a paying market-for Canadian writers working in the speculative genre. Aside from the then-biannual Tesseracts anthologies, there were no professional speculative fiction markets in Canada for Canadian writers. On Spec was created to provide this market.
"Digest-size with full-color covers, On Spec is perfect-bound and typically contains one or two poems and nonfiction pieces, and some interior black and white illustrations, but since our readers have told us what they want is "fiction, fiction, and more fiction," the focus of the magazine is short fiction. Each 112-page issue contains 8-12 short stories in the speculative genre: science fiction, fantasy, horror, magic realism, and speculative fiction.
"On Spec is published quarterly in Edmonton, Alberta, by the Copper Pig Writers' Society, a nonprofit society, and produced by an editorial collective whose membersall writers themselvesdonate their professional services and their time. The editorial collective includes General Editor Jena Snyder (Edmonton); Fiction Editors Derryl Murphy (Logan, Utah), Jena Snyder, Diane L. Walton (Alberta Beach), and Peter Watts (Toronto). Barry Hammond of Edmonton is our Poetry Editor, and Jane Starr, also of Edmonton, is our Art Director.
"Each spring we publish a theme issue; this year, we featured "Future Crime." Our Fall 2000 issue is a special double-sized issue featuring winners of our 1999 Short Story Contest; this issue will be 224 pages, and has a cover price of $9.95. Inside, you'll find the first, second, and third prize winners; eleven honorable mentions; bonus stories by Cory Doctorow, Laurie Channer & Peter Watts, and Derryl Murphy; and some postcard stories by Catherine MacLeod that lend a whole new meaning to the phrase 'Don't go there.' "
The On Spec editors are looking for original, unpublished speculative fiction (SF) and poetryfantasy, horror, ghost stories, fairy stories, magic realism, etc. Our mandate is to provide a market for the Canadian viewpoint, but we welcome submissions from writers everywhere, and have published authors from Canada, the U.S., Britain, New Zealand, South America, and more. Send your short stories (max. 6000 words), short short stories (under 1000 words) or poetry (max. 100 lines) to the On Spec address above. Please note: we no longer require submissions in competition format.
We do not read E-mailed or faxed submissions, and we do not buy stories or poetry that have appeared in print or on the Internet.
We do accept simultaneous submissions, but request that you let us know immediately if the work is sold elsewhere.
* include your name, address, telephone number, email address, story title, accurate word count, and a brief (3-line) biography including your publishing background
* don't include a synopsis: let your story sell itself
On Spec buys first North American serial (magazine) rights, and each author and artist retains copyright to his/her work. We pay upon acceptance. Minimum payment for fiction is $50 and maximum payment is $180.
Pay rates are as follows and are in Canadian dollars (for US and overseas authors, we pay in US funds, based on the current rate of exchange):
4-100 lines $20 plus one contributor's copy
Short-short stories (under 1000 words):
$50 plus one contributor's copy
Fiction (6000 words max.)
1000-2999 words $100 plus 2 contributor's copies
3000-4999 words $150 plus 2 contributor's copies
5000-6000 words $180 plus 2 contributor's copies
Deadlines are February 28, May 31, August 31, and November 30.
Publication decisions are made four times annually, with response about 12 weeks after each deadline. Manuscripts that miss a deadline will be held for the next one, and this may be up to 6 months. Please let us know if you do not wish a manuscript to be held over.
We do one theme issue per year. Our theme for 2001 is "World Beat." Deadline: August 31, 2000. Response time is generally about 12 weeks after the deadline.
NONFICTION AND ARTWORK:
Non-fiction is commissioned only. All artwork is commissioned, but illustrators are encouraged to mail hard copy samples of their work to On Spec: Attention Art Director Jane Starr. Please do not attach sample files of your artwork, or ask us to take a look at your websiteemail to the On Spec office email@example.com does not go to the Art Director. Send SASE for complete art guidelines.
On Spec is published four times a year by the (nonprofit) Copper Pig Writers' Society. All prices include GST, shipping, and handling.
1 year $18.00
2 years $32.00
3 years $44.00
Institutions: $25.00 per year
USA (in US dollars):
1 year $18.00
2 years $32.00
3 years $44.00
Institutions: $25.00 per year
Overseas (in US dollars):
1 year $25.00
2 years $44.00
3 years $60.00
Institutions: $30.00 per year
Send check or money order to ON SPEC, Box 4727, Edmonton, AB T6E 5G6. Make checks payable to ON SPEC. To pay by VISA, include your VISA number, expiry date, name as it is printed on the card, and your signature. You can also phone or fax your VISA information (card number, expiry date, and name as it appears on your credit card) to us at our new fax number: (780) 413-1538.
Sample copies (current issue) are $6, including postage and tax (U.S. and overseas: US $6.) Please make checks or money orders payable to ON SPEC or include your Visa information (card number, expiry date, and name as it appears on your credit card.)
Some of these hints may seem laughably obvious: "Use white paper" "Print on one side of the paper only" but if you saw our slush pile, you wouldn't laugh. The best way to get your work read in a favorable light is to make sure your manuscript is as appealing and easy to read as possible.
Yes, spelling counts. So does grammar. So does formatting. However eye-catching neon yellow paper may be, it is no fun to read, and we don't.
All submissions to On Spec should:
* be in standard submission format
* be mailed to us (we don't read faxed or e-mailed submissions)
* be accompanied by a SASE (self-addressed, stamped envelope) with Canadian stamps and cover letter
* be printed double-spaced on white paper in black ink on one side of the page only
* be in a readable font (e.g. Times or Courier)
* be left-justified, with a "ragged right" margin, and have at least 1-inch margins all around
* have a header on each page with story title and page number
* be paper-clipped together, not stapled or bound
* be no more than 6,000 words
* we do not reply via email
* if you want your manuscript returned, include Self Addressed Stamped Envelope (SASE) bearing sufficient Canadian postage for its return, or Self Addressed Envelope (SAE) with sufficient International Reply Coupons (IRCs, available at most post offices) for its return. Please note that "Canadian postage" means Canadian stamps, not stamps from any other country.
* if your manuscript is disposable, mark it "disposable" and include #10 SASE (or SAE and one IRC) for our reply
* submissions without a SASE will be held for 6 months, then recycled
Before sending your manuscript, read it over and ask yourself the following questions:
* Is your story SF? We publish speculative fiction (SF) only: speculative fiction includes science fiction, fantasy, horror, magic realism, and other sub-genres of SF. If there is no SF element in your story, it's not what we're looking for.
* Is your story fiction? All our nonfiction, including editorials, essays, etc. are commissioned only.
* Have your characters grown or developed during the course of the story? Have they faced a challenge or been changed by the experience? We want to see vibrant, well-rounded characters who either solve a conflict or are changed by it.
* Are you using cliched words, phrases, or situations? Is the plot similar to a TV show or movie our readers are familiar with? We are looking for stories that go off the beaten path and don't follow trends.
* Are there any "expository lumps" in your story? Having the action stop so that a character can explain his motives or so that some background information can be provided seriously hampers the forward movement of the plot. Show us, don't tell us.
* Are you working in the wrong format? We often see stories that are far too complex and novelistic to fit comfortably into our word limit; we also see stories that are little more than ideas stretched out to fit a number of pages. Both formats are usually rejected.
* Is your story too long for us? We are looking for stories no more than 6000 words.
* Is the opening long and slow? The reader needs to be drawn in immediately by an opening "hook."
* Do you give the ending away too quickly? Is the ending fair? We prefer endings to evolve naturally and believably. Don't give your ending away; at the same time, don't cheat the reader by ending the story with a no-warning twist.
* Are you preaching to the reader? While we appreciate that writers may feel strongly about a cause, we're looking for stories that do more than say "this is bad (or good)."
* Is humoror horrorthe only element in your story? No matter what the genre, we want character-driven work, not simply situation comedy or what Stephen King calls "going for the gross-out."
* If you're working with an archetype, are you following established conventions? A vampire drinking orange juice in a pool-side bar at noon, for example, can't simply happen without a plausible explanation.
* Did you format your story properly and proofread it carefully? Numerous and repeated errors in spelling, punctuation, or grammar become very irritating to the reader, as do manuscripts with tiny margins, flimsy paper, single-spaced printing, and so on.
* Has your story been published before, in print or on the internet? We only buy original, unpublished work.
Last but not least, if you are sending a story to us from anywhere but Canada, your SASE has to have Canadian stamps on it, or Canada Post won't deliver it. If you can't get Canadian stamps, use International Reply Coupons.
magazine spotlight: On Spec