Submission Guidelines

To get a sense of what we publish, take a look at our first issue, “The War at Home”

Vol. 1: The War at Home

Orthogonal is  reading  from January 15 to February 13, 2016, seeking submissions for the following themed issues:

Code:  Explorations of cryptography, language, secrets, lies, and things better left unsaid.  Everything from a couple sitting across the table not speaking to First Contact is an encoded exchange; decrypt it for us in fiction.  

Criminal Variations:  Cops, robbers, bandits and outlaws, any violation of the laws of man, the laws of nature, or the laws of physics will be considered.

There are a few full-length slots still open in each issue but we’re particularly low on flash fiction;  if you’ve got sub-1000 word pieces you think might fit either theme we definitely want to see them.

And now we return you to our regular Submission Guidelines already in process…

When thinking about what to submit, you could do worse than a little Hakim Bey:

  • Don’t write for other writers:
    Kick the bastards out of your head; they don’t pay rent and they clutter up the place.  If your writing group told you it could never be published, we want to see it.
  • Avoid recognizable categories:
    We can gum 31 flavors of repetitive predigested nostalgia anywhere. If there’s already a name, a magazine, or a pat cover image for it we probably don’t want it.  Give us something that requires a little teeth.
  • Avoid politics. (Or be clever enough to slip them through the back door.)
    Don’t preach unless you’re moved to testify.  We’re more than open to having our rafters shaken but prim sniffs and disapproving finger waggles will be a hard sell.
  • Don’t be sentimental; be ruthless. Take risks.
    Spare nothing. Leave everything on the floor and light it on fire behind you. Be safe and respectable with the professional markets; this is a chance to take your fiction over the edge and see if it will fly.
  • Vandalize only that which *must* be defaced.
    Lou Reed once said “I’m too literate to be into punk rock.”  It wasn’t entirely true but it did make the point that iconoclasm isn’t cool if it’s dumb.  Choose your targets with precision and *then* clog all their toilets at once.
  • Write something children will remember all their lives.
    character, a phrase, a single idea.  Make us remember why we fell in love with fiction in the first place.
  • Dress up. Leave a false name. Be legendary.
    We require that all submissions be anonymous. (Read more about the reasons for that here.)  What this means is grab a free email account, strip your headers of any identifying information and leave your publication credits at the door. We want stories from every possible viewpoint; we have absolutely zero interest in knowing who you are. If we like the story we’ll ask. Then it’s up to you whether you want to remove the mask.


For stories we pay $100 as well as a small percentage of the sale of each e-copy. If you’d prefer, instead of the $100 we also offer the option to receive $80 (plus percentage) and a Worldcon supporting/voting membership. Ethically there should be no issue here. There’s no way in hell this project will ever be nominated for a Hugo. If it were we’d decline because it would defeat the entire purpose of the exercise.

For flash fiction (<1000 words), we pay a flat rate of $30, plus the small percentage of the sale of each e-copy.  Alternatively, you can elect to receive the voting Worldcon membership (plus percentage) as your payment.


Word count is flexible, anywhere from 5 to 5000 words is the sweet spot with longer pieces accepted assuming they’re engaging enough to want to keep reading.   As mentioned above, all submissions must be anonymized so make sure the only identifying information is an email address and send your work as an attachment in .rtf format to our gmail address:  orthogonalsf.  Use the subject “Fiction Submission: <Title>”  The reading period opens January 15th and closes February 13, 2016.


If you want to send an anonymous cover letter with a word count, quotes from obscure feminist theorists, odd photographs, song lyrics, recipes etc., feel free but it’s in no way required.



  1. Although contributions will be published anonymously, as I assume, is it possible to promote our appearance in the magazine, if we are accepted, to our social media audience, or is this not acceptable?

    • Completely acceptable. Submissions are anonymous but once purchased the name you publish the story under is up to you, promote it as much as you like. The anonymity is intended to give folks (and myself) some separation and room to stretch during the submission process, not to force writers to labor in obscurity.

    • Yes, in the sense that a story can have dark, fantastic, or scary aspects. If it has those qualities and you think it fits with the above guidelines, go for it!

    • That would be a incredibly hard sell, particularly during this first year. On the other hand it can’t hurt to try.

  2. I have a Gmail account about ten years old with a pseuodnym I haven’t used in AGES . . . would that be suitable for submitting since it doesn’t have anything identifying in the header?

    • Sure! Anonymity is required but it’s not as if we’ve subcontracted out the NSA (or even a depressed slush reader) to scrupulously backtrace every submission. The hope is the lack of any identifying information will give new writers a chance to come in on equal footing, established writers an opportunity to play a little, and everyone a bit of remove from their last Twitter/Tumblr/Facebook flamewar. Don’t worry about it too much and have some fun.

  3. Do you notify submitting authors (by reply to their anonymous gmail account) that you have received their manuscript, or should they simply assume that if gmail doesn’t show an error during “send”?

    Also, is the RT of 90 days shown in the listing accurate?

    • We implemented an autoreply during the last submissions period. You should receive an automated response to any mail sent to the submissions address.

      We do occasionally drift from the 90 day RT, particularly when a story doesn’t fit the upcoming issue but seems like it might fit another one later in the schedule. In general though we do our best to stick to it.

  4. Here’s an idea – if people don’t want the trouble of maintaining a whole nother email account, would it be acceptable to have your submission forwarded by a friend (not, of course, somebody sharing a surname, or a known author who might be seen as a patron)?

    • That’d be fine. Alternatively you could probably change the name your mailer uses for that one email as well. Don’t worry about it too much. The worst thing that’s happened so far when someone has screwed up (usually by submitting the standard “I’ve published here, here, and here, attended this workshop, and by the way I’m married to your sister, please buy this short story? Thanks!” cover letter…) is a gentle reminder that we’re an anonymous market and the suggestion they check the guidelines and resubmit in a week or two. We’re receiving enough submissions that even the most interesting title will be forgotten in seven days and you’ll be right back in the running.

  5. Pingback: 7.2.15 | satin bones

  6. Pingback: Ongoing Submissions: Orthogonal | Coffintree Hill

    • No / no, and no, respectively.

      For simsubs/multiples, it’s because we’d like to keep the submissions pile down to the point where we can spend some time on each story rather than having to do one-sentence gut rejections just to keep up.

      As far as reprints, if it’s already been published it’s not really orthogonal then, is it?

  7. Pingback: QuEST: Pulp Literature closting to subs soon | Mara Burke

  8. Pingback: QuEST: Uncanny Mag Opening to Subs Soon | Mara Burke

Comments are closed.