The Red Penny Papers is currently CLOSED to all submissions. Please see this note about responses from our last reading period.
The Red Penny Papers publishes webfiction that celebrates the spirit of the penny dreadful, the sensationalist and gothic novel, and their more modern successor, the pulp magazine— the catch is that it must have a dark speculative bent.
We want stories of the underbelly: opium dens or badly-lit parking lots, police gone bad and insane clergy, supernatural Don Juans and brash highwaymen and women, megalomaniacal scientists and secret schools and cults.
We want modern and historical: nights alone in a hospital morgue and days languishing in the old family manor, werewolf hunting in modern New York and the grave-robber riots at Columbia University, 1788, madness on the moon or Civil War train-robbery.
But mostly, we want to be thrilled and entertained, and maybe have our emotions toyed with a little. Still confused? Check out this interview with the Collector.
- Among the acceptable genres are light horror, supernatural, steampunk, clockpunk, magical realism, near-future sci-fi, urban fantasy, historical, and noir. We are not looking for hard sci-fi, splatter/gore, or epic fantasy at this time. There must be some speculative element in your story for it to fit.
- We like it dark, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be funny too. Take yourself as seriously as you like– or not seriously at all.
- Classic monsters (zombies, vampires, werewolves, mummies, ghosts, demons, etc.) are not just okay, they are welcomed with open arms. We’re not looking for the usual serial killer deal, though.
- The Red Penny Papers are rated R. We’re down with sex, death, swearing, etc. We’re also down with hinting rather than showing. Author’s discretion.
- Stories from underrepresented points of view are encouraged. Stories that marginalize any subset of humanity or glorify social injustice of any sort are not.
- There will be a round of edits (or more, if you like) before publication. Fair warning in case you find that offensive.
- Simultaneous submissions are fine, just let us know if you’ve placed the piece elsewhere as soon as possible, lest we get all excited about it and have our hopes dashed. Please only submit one piece to The Red Penny Papers at a time, no multiple submissions.
- For all submissions, don’t worry too much about formatting. The best way to go is single-spaced, no paragraph indentations, hard break between paragraphs. Italics or “/italics/” for italics, bold or “*bold*” for bold, underline or “_underline_” for underline.
- Be sure to include contact information with your submission.
- We’re shooting for a 45 day response time–up to 70 over all on shortlisted stories, but you’ll get a shortlist notice within 45. If you don’t get a confirmation of your submission’s arrival within a week, please resend. Odds are good that if you haven’t gotten the confirmation, you attached files. That means you got swept up in the spam filter. It gets checked regularly, but even if we fish it out, you’ll get an email asking for a resub. If you realize later you’ve done this, feel free to resend without the file attachment.
- We buy electronic rights and the right to archive your story. We produce eBook versions of all issues as well as web versions. Payment specifics depend on the type of fiction– see below.
- Stories should be between 1k-5k words. (If your story is between the 5k short fiction upper limit and the 10k novella lower limit, but you think it belongs here, please query as described in the “Serials” section below.)
- Compensation is $.01 USD per word up to $25, payable at time of publication. Paypal is the preferred method, but we can also pay by check if necessary.
- Will be published in a quarterly issue, with a hard limit of 4-6 stories per issue.
- We prefer shiny new stories, but if you send a reprint, no problem. Just let us know where and when it was published so we can give the proper credit.
- Paste your entire story into the body of your email. Do not send files unless requested– they won’t be opened. Upon acceptance, we’ll start working in .rtf or .doc for edits– author’s choice. Cover letters are fine, but not necessary.
- Send your submission with the subject line: “Submission: [Title] [Author Name]” to redpennypapers[at]gmail[dot]com.
- Serial novellas/novelettes should be between 10k-25k words, and complete before query.
- They should be ready for serialization, as in episodic in nature– ideally in 2-5 installments.
- Paste a query and synopsis (the latter no longer than one page in ms word, half page being more desirable) into the body of your email. Remember to give a complete word count. Please do not send the story itself or any files. We’ll get back to you asap.
- Send your query with the subject line: “Query: [Title] [Author Name]” to redpennypapers[at]gmail[dot]com.
- If your manuscript is requested, please send as a .doc or .rtf file, single-spaced, no paragraph indentations, hard break between paragraphs. Italics for italics, bold for bold, underline for underline.
- Payment can be arranged in a lump sum on publication of the first episode, or to be broken up into equal parts and paid with the publication of each episode. Payment will be similar to that for short fiction: 10k = $50, 15k= $75, 20k=$100. The maximum possible payment for a serial is $100.
- Episodes will be posted once a week until the end of a given serial, with a hard limit of 3 serials per year.
- All serial authors will have the option, upon completion of their serial run, to allow The Red Penny Papers to produce an eBook collecting all episodes. Royalties from the sale of the collected edition will be split 50/50.
- If you think your artwork would make for a Red Penny Papers cover image, please send a link to your portfolio, deviant art, or other website to the above submissions address.
- We like to commission specific subjects to match our novellas and/or a given story in an issue, but there’s a lot of wiggle room in that. Pay rates will be arranged with the artist, depending on the subject, medium, and other considerations, not less than $25, payable at time of publication.
- If the general theme and feeling of a specific, unrelated work suits The Red Penny Papers, we will gladly consider it for a cover. We pay $25 for the use of a cover image at Redpennypapers.com, payable at time of publication.
Any questions, feel free to throw ’em in the comments.
-John, Katey, and the devious alter-ego, Magdala Twistleton