Call for Submissions

Unspeakable is currently open for submissions!

If you are interested in submitting to this anthology, please read all the information below. Submissions that do not follow the guidelines will be deleted unread.

About the anthology

  • Unspeakable will be published in January 2020. The exact date will follow closer to publication.
  • Unspeakable is a digital-first publication (meaning it will be released in the common ebook formats MOBI, EPUB, and PDF first). Paperback copies will follow in a print-on-demand format. This means that copies are printed when upon purchase, rather than being printed in bulk up-front. Not only does this lower the financial burden on the publisher, it has the added benefit of being less wasteful.
  • All short stories in Unspeakable are expected to engage with the theme of the queer Gothic. For what this entails, see the explanation below.
  • Short stories need to be 8000 words or less. Flash fiction/micro fiction is very welcome – don’t feel the need to pad your story.
  • The last day for submissions is September 30th, midnight UK time. Submissions after this date will not be read. (Note: this call originally said September 16th – in order to coincide with our Kickstarter campaign, the submission period has been extended)

What is queer Gothic?

‘To queer’ can mean to destabilize, to deviate from established meanings. At the same time, queer has become a (contested) term for any identity that deviates from the allo-cis-heterosexual norm; identities that are included into the LGBTQIAP+ umbrella. (Please note that the A stands for asexual, not ally.)

The uncanny is queer. And the queer is uncanny.

Nicholas Royle, The Uncanny (2003)

Historically, Gothic tropes of doubling, masquerade, and ‘unspeakable’ horror expressed through elision, have been used to express same-sex desires and slippery gender identities. For literary historians, studying Gothic texts from this perspective has proven very fruitful.

As the lessons of feminism, gay liberation, and queer theory were digested in the 1990s, the Gothic became a rich literary source for thinking about how sexual differences are inherently relative and unstable.

E. L. McCallum, ‘The “queer limits” in the modern Gothic, in The Cambridge Companion to the Modern Gothic (2014)

In more practical, contemporary terms, the queer Gothic provides an opportunity to challenge boundaries of conventional fiction. It is an opportunity to represent other points of view, and to rewrite and reinterpret beloved Gothic tropes from a 21st-century perspective. We leave it up to the author to be inspired by this short summary, and to write queer Gothic in whatever way inspires them. Unspeakable is an inclusive anthology, and particularly welcomes submissions with queer protagonists, and/or stories that ‘queer’ Gothic tropes.

Stories set outside of the Anglophone world, and stories that consider intersections along the lines of sexuality, race, class, and (dis)ability are particularly welcome. If it’s Gothic, we would love to read it.

Finally, for us, Gothic does not mean the story has to be serious in tone. We also love comic Gothic (think the movie/TV show What We Do in the Shadows).

Some caveats

  • Stories need to be written in English. (Some words in another language are fine, but assume that an English reader might not understand them.)
  • Unspeakable aims at an adult audience. Stories featuring teens or children are okay, as long as the intended audience is adult.
  • Sexual content is fine. Please note that this is not an erotic anthology, however, so your monster porn is probably better off somewhere else.
  • Again, there is a 8000 word limit and no submissions will be read submitted after September 30th.

Information for authors

If this all sounds great to you, please consider the legal fine print below, and send us your submission! If you still have questions, feel free to contact us either through Twitter or by filling in our contact form.

  • Your story needs to be unpublished. This includes publication through online platforms like Wattpad, Patreon, and similar. If you’ve put it online to be read by the public before, it’s not unpublished.
  • A contract will be signed, which gives Unspeakable the sole right to publish and distribute your story in digital, print, and audio format for two years (24 months). After this period you are welcome to publish the story yourself, or resubmit it to another anthology. Unspeakable reserves the right to reprint the story, as submitted, beyond this period. Contracts are negotiable but binding, so please consider this carefully before signing.
  • All authors will be paid. We do not believe in ‘providing exposure’ for free. Exposure does not pay bills. Artists deserve to be paid for their labour. The current rate is £10 for stories under 1000 words (flash fiction) and £20 for stories of 1000 words or longer. In July, a fundraiser will be held through Kickstarter, the proceeds of which will hopefully be enough to provide a higher payment.
  • Multiple submissions are acceptable.
  • Your country of residence does not matter to us – as long as we can find a way to pay you (for example through PayPal or Transferwise).
  • Unspeakable supports Switchboard, a confidential LGBT+ helpline. 50% of all net profits of the sale of the anthology will be donated to Switchboard.

To submit your story for consideration, please send your manuscript in .doc or .docx format to, with the subject line SUBMISSION and the title of your manuscript. We prefer a clean 12pt font like Times New Roman or Arial. Feel free to provide us with any information you feel like we should know about in the body of your email, but know that we assess stories by themselves. A cover letter is unnecessary. You should receive a confirmation that we have received your manuscript within a week – if not, please do send it again. Everyone who submits will be informed of the outcome in October.