Submission Guidelines

Mothership Zeta is currently CLOSED FOR SUBMISSIONS. Watch our site for a note about our next open window!

  • Submit using Standard Manuscript Format. We accept files in .doc, .docx, .rtf, and .odt format.
  • Word count: up to 6000 words. We will publish at least one piece of flash fiction (stories up to 1000 words) per issue.
  • No simultaneous or multiple submissions. If your submission is rejected before the submission window closes, you may send a new submission.


We pay $0.06/word for original short stories and flash fiction.

What We Want

Mothership Zeta is looking for science fiction, fantasy, and horror stories that are fun. The robot who fights a dinosaur, not the robot who explores its lack of humanity and deactivates itself. The nagini who goes on an adventure, not the nagini who is tortured and drowns herself. The blonde woman who kills monsters, not the blonde woman who gets ripped apart by monsters. Fun doesn’t necessarily mean “funny,” and stories can have conflict and darker elements, but we want stories that leave the reader satisfied, usually in a positive way. Bittersweet is okay, tragic is not. (Unless you’re Cabin in the Woods. A killer unicorn buys you some credit.)

We hope to publish fiction reflecting the full range of settings and tropes found in speculative fiction. We’d particularly like to see more stories set outside America, and stories that feature characters who represent a range of backgrounds and ethnicities.


One of the goals of Mothership Zeta is showcasing our favorite stories from the Escape Artists podcast, so we will be reprinting our favorite stories from the shows, but we will be soliciting them from the authors and paying a $100 flat rate. We do not want reprint submissions. (If you have a good reprint, then send it to one of the podcasts, and it might make it into MZ!)

What We Don’t Want

While we understand that “fun” is subjective, here’s a bit of what we’re not looking for.

  • Graphic horror
  • Erotica
  • Fanfiction
  • Rape, torture, child abuse, a whole host of things we hope no one thinks are “fun” but we felt we should mention them here anyway.


Mothership Zeta welcomes submissions from writers of all backgrounds. We are especially interested in seeing more submissions from people of backgrounds that have been historically underrepresented or excluded from traditional publishing, including, but not limited to, women, people of color, LGBTQ or non-binary gender people, persons with disabilities, members of religious minorities, and people from outside the United States.  Our goal is to publish fiction that reflects the diversity of the human race, so we strongly encourage submissions from these or any other underrepresented groups.

How to Submit

Prepare your manuscript in something approximating Standard Manuscript Format — but PLEASE NOTE: If there are italics in your story, italicize them, don’t underline them. It makes formatting much easier on our end! Then submit through our ONLINE SUBMISSIONS PORTAL ( We accept files formatted in .doc, .docx, .rtf, and .odt.

In your cover letter, please include your legal name, byline (if different from your legal name), and the story’s approximate word count. If you have any previous publications, feel free to list the most recent three, but this is optional and won’t affect your story’s consideration.

Once you’ve sent us your story, you will receive an automated confirmation via email. Please query info at if you have not received this confirmation within 24 hours.

After six weeks, if you haven’t received a response, feel free to query by email (add QUERY to your email subject).


By sending us your story you understand and agree that:

  1. You are the original creator of the work submitted to us;
  2. You are the copyright holder of the work;
  3. You are not prohibited by any prior agreement from the transfer of non-exclusive electronic rights to the work;
  4. All information in the contact and cover sections of your submission is accurate and truthful;
  5. You accept sole responsibility for any false statements or encumbrances upon rights not disclosed to us.

If we buy your story we’ll send you a contract, and you’ll be bound to all of the above.

Thanks very much for your time, and we look forward to reading your fiction!


Mur Lafferty, Editor
Sunil Patel, Assistant Editor
and editorial staff