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The Colored Lens

The goal of speculative fiction has always been to examine the real world through the lens of the imaginary. By considering what could be, we gain a better understanding of what is.

The Colored Lens strives to do exactly that. By publishing four to five short stories and serialized novellas a quarter in genres ranging from fantasy, to science fiction, to slipstream or magical realism, we hope to help our readers see the world just a bit differently than before they came to our website.

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.

We are willing to consider novella-length graphic novels. If you have a proposal, please contact us at

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 Body.

If you’re uncertain how to write a cover letter, Jed Hartman has an excellent article of what to include/not include at

Submission & Responses
Short stories should be in standard manuscript format, and submitted using our online submission system. Do not worry about double spacing or paragraph indentions, although double spacing between paragraphs is nice. This can be done by running a search/replace for ^P and replacing it with ^p^p. Novellas too large to be uploaded using the online submission system should be pasted into the email as text and sent to You should receive email confirmation that your story has been received within a few hours. If you do not, contact us at We try to respond to stories within a week, although stories held for final determination take longer. We will notify you if your story is being held.

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.

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.

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