Submission Guidelines


The Colored Lens is looking for short stories that shift perspectives of how we see the world. We are specifically seeking stories that cause the reader reflect, not just on the story, but on how it relates to their own world.

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.

Cover letter
In your cover letter, please tell us the title, genre, and word count of your story. Also include a short (less than 100 words) biography. Please do not tell us about your story. We would rather find out by reading it. Paste your cover letter and optional bio before the story into the bio field.

If you’re uncertain how to write a cover letter, Just B. Jordan has an excellent article of what to include/not include at

Green Submissions Engine

The Colored Lens uses the Green Submissions engine. If you’re submitting to TCL for the first time, please register an Author Account here. After that, you can simply log in to submit stories in the future. 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. You should receive emails notifying you as your story makes its way through our editorial process. You can also log back into the Submission Engine from time to time to check on your story’s status.

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

I don’t want to create an account. Can I just email you my story?
We strongly encourage authors to use the Green Submissions form. Doing so allows you to track your story’s progress through the editorial process as it is read, considered, possibly held, held, etc.

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 registered on Green Submissions, but I never received my password via email!
Check your spam folders. Our site sends out a large number of automated emails on a daily basis when stories are updated, or when new authors register for the site. Sometimes email services such as Gmail or Hotmail flag them as spam and dump them into your spam folder. Check there first before emailing us.

What happened to my story? I submitted it but never heard anything after that.
You will receive an email as your story moves through our evaluation process. If you do not get an email within 48-hours of submitting your story, check your spam folder. Automated emails are sent out notifying authors when their story is being reviewed by an editor, and again when a decision has been made to hold or reject that story. You can also log back in to the submission database and view the updated status of your story online.


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 Graphic Art Submissions page .

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.


  1. Elijah Martin

    Dear editor,

    My name is Elijah Martin and I recently submitted a story for your review. Much to my surprise, I received a reply shortly after providing very valuable feedback. However, I did have one question: does your publication accept revisions of the same story submitted at a later date? I’ve have not come across anyone who allows this, but I thought it best to ask.

    Thank you,

    1. Dawn

      I’m glad you found the feedback helpful and wish you well with the story.

      As for resubmission, we ask authors not to resubmit stories if they’ve been rejected. There are a few rare occasions when we like a story except for one specific part (like the ending) and tell the author he/she may resubmit it if that section is revised. If we do this, we state it clearly in the rejection itself. If we don’t state it, then we ask that an author not resubmit the same story to us. Authors are welcome to submit new pieces though.

  2. Judith Field

    I’ve submitted stories to you before, and had to copy and paste them into the form. But we seem to have the option of attaching a file. Is that correct?

    1. Dawn

      This is correct. We’ve changed to a new submission form and now accept attachments. Please send in doc, docx, or rtf format.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *