What we Publish: Original fiction and poetry, all of which must be broadly “speculative fiction” (science fiction, fantasy, alt-history, magical realism, slipstream, or in some other way altered reality). If the speculative element is slight or if it will not be obvious in the first page, we recommend mentioning the story’s genre in the cover letter.
Length: 12,000 words or less preferred, but you may submit stories up to 20,000 words. 30 lines or fewer for poetry.
Rights Purchased: First worldwide English-language rights.
Payment: $0.10/word up to 3,000 words for fiction. $300 flat rate above that. $10/poem flat rate for poetry.
Simultaneous Submissions: Accepted. Please let us know immediately if your work sells elsewhere.
Multiple Submissions: Accepted. Please do not dump your entire trunk on us or this will change. For fiction, please submit each story separately. For poetry, you may submit up to 10 poems in a single file, or each poem separately, whichever works better for you. If you receive a rejection during a submission window, you may submit again with another story or more poems.
Reprints: By solicitation only. Query if your work was previously published but obscurely enough that you think it should not count.
Translations: Accepted for first worldwide English publication.
Response Time: We strive to respond to all submissions in less than 90 days.
Query Address: departuremirror [at] gmail
Submission Portal: Moksha
What We Like:
Departure Mirror Quarterly stories are:
- Current. Astute readers should be able to see how your story addresses the world we live in right now.
- Well written.
- Accessible to a mainstream American audience.
- Diverse. We mean this not only in terms of the types of stories we publish, but also in terms of the types of authors we publish. Writers from historically underrepresented and oppressed groups are especially encouraged to submit. We particularly like stories that take the outsider’s perspective.
- Anti-violence. We do not publish anything that promotes or glorifies violence, including threats of violence and coercion. (Minimum necessary force in self-defense can be acceptable if it is portrayed as regrettable rather than triumphant.) Stories certainly can contain violence (it is a fact of life), but violence should not be shown as the correct solution to the problem. Government-sanctioned violence is violence, so resolution through military action, police use-of-force, capital punishment, etc. is included in this policy. In societies in which laws are enforced through coercion and violence (such as ours), passing a law would also be included in this policy. We accept stories that highlight the inappropriateness of violence. We particularly like stories that show us a better way.
- Unexpected. Speak truth to power. Invent something new. Advance a conversation. Subvert a trope. Bring us an unheard voice. Surprise us.
Departure Mirror Quarterly poems are:
- Readable by someone with no formal training in poetry.
- Reflowable. Poems that depend on typography for their meaning do not fare well in two of our three formats. Visual poetry does not work at all.
- Speculative. Make sure there is a clear SF/F element, please.
Some Advice from the Editor-in-Chief:
I’m told that my original guidelines were long and rambling, so here’s the short version: Transport me to another world while reflecting on this one (or, as we say, make your story a “departure” and a “mirror”).
I like stories that tap into the current cultural zeitgeist. I do not shy away from “issue” stories, but I’m not fond of anything that is overtly didactic.
I firmly believe that all humans are inherently created equal and have equal (if differently distributed) potential. I do not like stories that preach otherwise or depend on other assumptions. I’m generally not fond of “chosen one” stories for that reason. Treat members of oppressed minorities with the same respect you give members of the dominant group(s), please.
Every editor says, “Read the magazine.” Yes, please read Departure Mirror Quarterly before submitting. But remember that every story that is published enters into conversation with every other story being published, so it’s important to read not only this magazine but also the other pro-rate SF/F magazines. n.b. that you are not truly “in conversation” if you’re just repeating what others have said. Feel free to riff on the same themes and ideas and/or to take the conversation somewhere else, but stories that are just like something that I just published are a hard sell.
Each issue is planned out at 20,000 words. Longer stories need to fit in the format without feeling like they dominate. Shorter pieces need to work well with the longer ones. Since you cannot know what else I have acquired or am considering, don’t be alarmed by a rejection that says your work is not right for us at this time. I’ve rejected a good many stories that were otherwise perfect “departure mirrors.” I reject a lot of stories I’ve loved as not right for us. Rejections aren’t personal.
We’re a new publication. We’re likely to make mistakes. I’m sure these guidelines will need to evolve over time. Thank you for joining us on this journey. I look forward to reading your work.
The submission guidelines above are true in general. This section provides more details about the current (or upcoming) submission window.
The April submission period is for the Summer 2021 issue (publishing in July).
Our slush has tended to be very dark and depressing recently. Though there is a place for a few such stories in the magazine, pieces that are hopeful or solution-oriented tend to stand out more, as there is always a need for those.
We’re also feeling like we’ve done a lot of contemporary stories recently and would very much like to expand the settings farther into the future, deeper into fantasy worlds, and longer into the past.
For Summer 2021, we’re going to be avoiding anthropomorphic cats, apocalypse pieces, steampunk, dead relatives, mermaids and selkies, and were-anything unless specifically solicited.
We expect to continue to have a strong need for stories by and about members of underrepresented and historically oppressed groups. We will continue to need these stories to be accessible to a mainstream audience. International submissions are very welcome.
The sense here is that issue pieces should move beyond the standard talking points everyone is already repeating. Our sense is that America this summer is going to be in the process of figuring out what a post-pandemic America is going to look like, and pieces that reflect that rethinking of “normal” (without preaching) will be especially welcome.
We are currently closed for submissions. We will re-open in April.
Submissions sent to the query address will be deleted unread.
Last updated 4 March 2021.