Submissions

Submissions for Issue 31 open 24th May and close 14th June

Issues of the Underground Writers zine released in 2020 – that’s issues 29, 30, 31 and 32 – will not be themed. Instead, we will be exploring genre writing. Also, from November 2019 all submissions to the zine must be sent using the Submissions form – do not send your submission in an email.

Issue 31 – Science Fiction
Creative writing submissions are open from 24th May to 14th June

Cover artist proposals are open from 20th to 4th July – see ‘Submission Guidelines for Artists’ below

Science Fiction, often shortened to ‘sci-fi’, is a type of speculative fiction that bases itself in science, relying heavily on scientific facts, theories and technology to build a world different from our own but based on the same scientific premises.

While sci-fi has previously been referred to as a type of escapism, it usually explores the fundamental existence of humans, and how new discoveries, technologies and various situations might shape us. For this reason, sci-fi is often set in the future, in space, on different worlds, or in a different universe or dimension.

Sci-fi has a variety of sub-genres characterised by the primary change to the world or to the instigating plot device. For example, in recent years, the sub-genre ‘Cli-Fi’ (Climate Fiction) has become increasingly popular as people explore the effects of climate change on our planet and its populations. ‘Space Operas’ usually involve sprawling casts of characters across multiple worlds while ‘Alien Invasion’ has been a frequently enjoyed plot device from early in the genre’s history.

Other sub-genres include: Alternate/Parallel Universe, Apocalyptic/Post-Apocalyptic, Artificial Intelligence, Cyberpunk, Dystopia, Mind Uploading, Mutants, Nanotechnology, Robots/Androids, Singularity, Space Exploration, Terraforming, Time Travel, Virtual Reality and so many more.

Some recent examples of Australian Sci-Fi include Terra Nullius by Claire G Coleman, Lotus Blue by Cat Sparks, Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, From Here On Monsters by Elizabeth Bryer, Highway Bodies by Alison Evans, and The Cruel Stars by John Birmingham.

Issue 32 – Horror
Submissions open 23rd August and close 13th September

Horror is a genre that is characterised by the feelings of fear, shock and disgust that it arouses in readers. Things are often not what they seem and there is a heightened sense of the unknown or mysterious. Having said that, the stakes are fairly obvious in most horrors: survival, saving a loved one, or solving an unsolved mystery.

Horror is often used as a metaphor for looking at the larger fears of society. For example, the recent horror movie Get Out explored the fears associated with racism in modern America. Other societal tensions that are often explored include mental health, casual sex, xenophobia, religion and class.

Other fears that are commonly explored include instinctive fears such as darkness, heights, snakes, and spiders; and fears of monsters and supernatural entities such as ghosts, zombies, vampires and demons.

When thinking about what sort of horror you are going to write, consider the difference between psychological fear and gore. While psychological fear may instil feelings of uneasiness, gore is often used to shock and disgust readers.

Normally, your protagonist will have a particular fear they need to overcome in order to escape, survive, save their loved one or to uncover the mystery. But horrors don’t always have to have happy endings. You’ll need to consider what ending your story will have and why.

Examples of Australian Horror include The Grief Hole by Kaaron Warren, The Pilo Family Circus by Will Elliott, Vengeance Blind by Anna Willet, This Sublime Darkness by Greg Chapman, and Day Boy by Trent Jamieson.

Submission guidelines for writers

As much as we’d like to say, ‘let your creativity run free!’, we do have some rules and regulations to follow, but they’re pretty straightforward. If you’re unsure of any of the guidelines, feel free to contact us.

Please note

  • Whilst we do accept submissions from writers outside of Australia, priority will always be given to Australian writers
  • Please be aware that, as we are a publication for new and emerging authors, we give priority to authors with little or no publication history. If you have an extensive publication history and/or have authored and published several books, you are unlikely to be considered for publication and we suggest that you peruse our monthly Opportunities for Writers lists for more ideas of where to submit your work.
  • Priority will also be given to work that has not been accepted or published elsewhere – see note below about previously published work
  • Pieces with substantial spelling or grammatical errors will not be accepted. It is up to you to edit your submissions to a publishable standard – we will not do a thorough copy edit for you. Feedback provided is predominantly substantive
  • As this zine will be presented to the general public please be aware of the suitability of explicit content such as graphic violence, excessive coarse language, and triggering themes. If a piece is deemed to be offensive, triggering, or unnecessarily and excessively crude it will be rejected
  • All work sent to us must be the original work of the author or the author must own the rights to have the work published
  • Submitting content to us may mean that your work is not available for publishing in other journals or in competitions. It’s best to do some research about this, and let us know if a piece is accepted somewhere else before we publish it.

Submission Formatting

  • We have a limit of 40 lines for poems, and 2000 words for short stories, flash fiction and reviews.
  • We only accept one piece of writing per author per issue. You may submit different or substantially edited work for consideration each new issue.
  • Please format your text in Calibri, Arial or Times New Roman size 10-12, with line spacing of 1.5.
  • Submissions must be written in English

How to Submit

  • From November 2019 all submissions to the zine must be sent using the Submissions form – do not send your submission in an email
  • The Submissions form contains all the details for what you will need to submit

What Happens Next?

  • Within a week you will receive confirmation that we have received your submission
  • Do not expect a reply regarding the state of your submission – included or not – until submissions have closed. This just means that we have not yet decided which pieces will be included in the zine
  • Once the submission period closes your submission will be read by our editors. Only after they have read your work will they be given any details about who you are; such as whether your work has been published before or where you are based (as per note above).
  • Each one of our editors will read every submission. With all our different tastes and styles, we’ll then decide as a group which submissions we think will work best for the issue
  • We will then send feedback on all submissions, whether we have accepted them for publication or not
  • If we do accept your submission, you’ll then be paired with one of our editors and guided through the editorial and publication processes. The editorial process is to make any minor amendments that may be required before publication. This is the time when we check for spelling or grammar errors, or flow and syntax, or when we may have feedback that we think will make your story stronger that you may wish to incorporate
  • If we do not accept your submission, you are free to substantially edit the piece and submit it next issue, but we retain the right to refuse to include a piece until the editors deem it suitable. Please do not submit the same piece twice – all submissions must be significantly different from each other for consideration

Payment

  • All submissions published in the Underground Writers zine from Issue 17 onwards will be paid a flat rate of AUD$50 regardless of length, style, or previous publishing experience
  • As we are a free, un-funded, not-for-profit, volunteer organisation we rely entirely on our fabulous Patreon supporters to pay our writers. The more money we make through Patreon the more writers we can afford to publish: it’s as simple and as difficult as that. So if you like what we do and want us to keep doing it please consider supporting us on Patreon. There are a number of rewards and all of our regular Patrons receive our original content first: all book reviews, TBR lists, interviews, blog posts, and of course our issue releases are delivered to our supporters before anyone else!

Submission guidelines for artists

As much as we’d like to say, ‘let your creativity run free!’, we do have some rules and regulations to follow, but they’re pretty straightforward. If you’re unsure of any of the guidelines, feel free to contact us.

Please note

  • All work sent to us must be the original work of the artist and the artist must own the rights to have the work published
  • You will also be asked to provide a personal bio and blurb for your art of up to 80 words which will be placed inside the cover
  • You will be credited with the design of the cover both in the zine and through our media channels
  • In submitting your idea for consideration you agree that your artwork may be used on our website and social media for promotion of the Issue and for Underground Writers

What We Need

  • Style: should be all black and white and we are open to interpretation of the theme
  • Size: The zine is A5 and the cover needs to be a wraparound so the entire artwork must be A4 landscape. It is your choice to make one image that works as a wraparound for the whole cover or to make one image for the front and one for the back or even an image for the front that can be flipped to be the back cover as well.
  • Space needs to be allowed for the words ‘Underground Writers’ and ‘Issue xx’ which will be in either black or white and will be overlaid on the artwork when the zine is put together.

How to Submit

  • Rather than submitting completed artwork, we ask that you submit your idea or concept in writing along with a sample of previous work that represents the style you would use for the piece
  • Please note that we do not ask artists to submit a draft of their idea before we commit to commissioning as we do not support the practice of asking for work for free without guarantee of payment
  • The editorial team will choose the idea or concept that we feel best matches our theme and aesthetic following the submission closing date
  • Submit your written concept and samples of previous work to submissions[at]underground-writers.org

Timeline

  • Within one week after submissions have closed you will be notified whether or not your proposal has been chosen
  • If you have been commissioned, we will require a draft of your design within 1 week and the completed work within 2 weeks
  • Upon completion, your artwork will become the face of Underground Writers for the quarter until the next Issue is produced and will be shared across social media and our website with credit to you at all times. You will also be invited to share your artwork across your own platforms as long as it links back to the Underground Writers website or social media channels

Payment

  • We pay $100 for the full cover design and the right to display your artwork across our social media, website and for use in promoting Underground Writers and the zine
  • As we are a free, un-funded, not-for-profit, volunteer organisation we rely entirely on our fabulous Patreon supporters to pay our contributors. The more money we make through Patreon the more writers and artists we can afford to publish: it’s as simple and as difficult as that. So if you like what we do and want us to keep doing it please consider supporting us on Patreon. There are a number of rewards and all of our regular Patrons receive our original content first: all book reviews, TBR lists, interviews, blog posts, and of course our issue releases are delivered to our supporters before anyone else!