Submission Guidelines


The Colored Lens was created to showcase stories that shift our perspective on the world, through the far-reaching genre of speculative fiction. However, the fundamentals of good storytelling always come first: stories with characters we enjoy reading about and a solid plot. As long as your story includes them, we’d love to read it.

We publish all varieties of speculative fiction, from alternate history, to high fantasy, to nuts and bolts hard science fiction, to dark fantasy, so long as it meets the guidelines above. Whatever the genre, the focus should be used to comment on our world and society rather than exclusively to keep the reader turning pages.

A few things to keep in mind when submitting:

  • Stories should have a plot. Although we want stories that comment on our world and society, stories should also have a hook, rising action, climax, and resolution, although the handling of those elements can be experimental.
  • Flash fiction is great, but make sure it has a fully developed plot.
  • Stories must have a speculative element. It can be slight, but must be present.
  • Present tense will be a harder sell than traditional past tense. We have published stories in the present tense, and undoubtedly will continue to do so, but stories in the past tense tend to have a higher chance of acceptance.
  • Sex, violence, and related themes are fine, but those elements should not be the main focus of the story.

Length & Format
We publish stories up to 10,000 words, although we prefer stories in the 500-5000 word range. We also publish novellas up to 20,000 words, serialized over multiple issues.

Submit Your Work

The Colored Lens has begun using GoogleForms for submissions as we believe that will be the easiest for our authors. When signing up, please do not use a Yahoo email address if you have another alternative one. We routinely have problems sending mail to Yahoo addresses. Please submit to us using our Google Form. You should receive a response within a few days. If you have not heard back from us within a week, please check your spam folder. If you can’t find anything, please query by emailing . Put “QUERY” and the title and submission date in the subject of your email.

User Submissions & Responses

Short stories should be in standard manuscript format, and submitted using our online submission system. Please upload your story as a doc, docx, or rtf file. If you can not use one of these formats, you can copy/paste your story into the field on the submission page, but this is not the easiest format for us to read.

We do not accept simultaneous submissions, multiple submissions or reprints.

Please do not submit more than 5 stories within a 30 day period.
Report your response times at The Grinder

View submission statistics.

Frequently Asked Questions

Your site doesn’t look right. Some fields are missing, the layout is messed up, and I’m having trouble registering and/or submitting my story. What’s going on?
Our site is optimized for use in Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, and Safari. Unfortunately, it does NOT work well in Internet Explorer. We’re aware of this, and we’re actively working on fixing the problem. In the meantime, we ask for your patience and suggest trying another browser. You can download Firefox here or Chrome here.

I don’t have a gmail account. Can I just email you my story?
It is significantly easier for us if you submit through our submission form. You shouldn’t need a gmail account, but if you don’t have one, it is free and easy to create one. If you cannot create one, please email to query to ask about alternative methods of sending. Be aware that stories sent via other methods will be processed much more slowly.


We are accepting artwork within a speculative fiction element and that casts the world, either the real one or a fantastical one, in a different light than we see every day.

Artwork should be submitted in digital format. Artists may submit up to 3 pieces at once, but please wait for a response from us before sending more.

Artwork may be resized, but will not be cropped or otherwise altered without the artist’s permission. Please send us artwork that will still look good when resized or reformatted. Artwork may be submitted using our Google Form.

Payment & Rights

We pay $20 per short story, article, or piece of artwork, and $10 for flash. For novellas, we pay $20 for the first 10,000 words, and $1 per 1000 words after that. Unless otherwise specified, purchases are for first world electronic and print rights, exclusive for 3 months, and non-exclusive reprint rights. Payments will be made upon publication.

Acceptance of a submission does not guarantee a publication date. Payments will be made via paypal upon publication. Other forms of payment can be arranged if necessary.