Cover of pulp boxing stories magazine

Are you ready to rumble?

I’ve updated the writing competitions calendar — which you can find via the dropdown menu under
CLUELESS, INK on the navigation bar above.

You’ll see that I’ve included deadlines for 13 competitions in February, including the biggie — the  £15,000 BBC Short Story Prize.

I’ve also included the Margery Allingham mystery fiction award , administered by the UK Crime Writers’ Association, which has its deadline coming up in March.

Best of luck and happy comping!


Weird Tales November, 1937: The Living Buddhess


Since starting the process of cleaning up and updating and moving links from the old Clueless, ink Blogger blog to the Clueless ink pages here I realised that there is no easy way for you to know when new links have been added or changed.

There are still many, many more links to be posted into pages here.

So, to save you the bother of repeatedly checking the pages for any changes I will make a note of the date of the most recent update at the top of the page below the title in bold and post a note in the blog. And I’ve created a new Updates category — which you’ll see in the top right of this post. And, if you wanted you could click on the category and all the posts mentioning updates will appear.

For example, today I’ve added a new link to the Indie Authors & Publishers page. If you look at the page you’ll see today’s date and you’ll see I’ve added a link to the Alliance of Independent Authors.

Hope that helps you in your search for reliable information.

That’s all.

As you were.


Old Books by Mannequin at


Do you recall my little rant about UK short story publishing and distribution in which I suggested Costa Coffee (sponsors of the Costa Book awards) could get more involved with short stories? No? Here it is.

Well, someone must have read it because the Costa Book Awards now (as of July 16th, 2012) includes a category for short stories AND — unlike the other awards categories which can only be submitted by publishers and agents — writers can submit their own work.

The prize is £3,500 for a short story of up to 4000 words. Online entry is FREE. The deadline for submissions is 4pm on Friday, September 7th.

You can read about it HERE and click through to the online entry form.

What are you waiting for?

Oh, yes, sorry, forgot to mention — for some obscure reason all entrants have to have been officially resident in the UK or Ireland for at least six months of every year since November 2009. Though ‘UK or Irish nationality is not essential’.


Best of luck.



You may have noticed that I’ve added SHORT FICTION MARKETS to the Clueless, ink menu.

This comprises a list of 53 markets for short stories and flash fiction — ALL of which PAY for contributions— and a separate list of reliable links to useful directories where you can run your own searches for paying and non-paying publications.

It’s a diverse list, including literary heavyweights, such as The Paris Review, heavy hitters, such as New Yorker, dependable titles such as Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and Asimov’s Science Fiction, and a good mix of contemporary genre writing, including crime, speculative fiction, historical fiction, fantasy, vampire tales, literary fiction, and the very conservative UK People’s Friend magazine, and Glimmer Train.

If you’re based in the UK you may be amused to see The Sun in the list. No, this isn’t Murdoch’s eponymous tabloid but a quality journal based in North Carolina with the tagline Personal. Political. Provocative. Ad-free. The Sun pays between $300 and $1500 for quality fiction - though feature only two or three pieces in every issue.

Some of these titles are journals or magazines, others are printed anthologies. Since I first published this list a couple of years ago a fair few markets have gone under, or shifted from print to online, while a few new paying ventures have emerged.

You’ll notice too that more markets are asking for submission fees — usually a nominal dollar/quid or two — but less expensive than the more traditional paper and S.A.S.E. or I.R.C. submission package.

Bear in mind that the turnaround time on submissions to these titles can often run to six months — some titles allow multiple submissions, others don’t. Some titles have strict submission windows. Always check.

If you like what you see, and feel encouraged to submit, please read the guidelines and do as instructed. Before you submit it may be an idea to get hold of a recent issue of your targetted publication and read it — and, if you like what you sample, take out a trial subscription. If you can’t, or won’t, stretch to buying a single issue or subscription, it might be worth trying to get hold of a copy via the inter-library loan service; some libraries are very good at this—and the fee will be less than the cost of a journal.

If you’re a native of the UK or Ireland looking to submit work to a U.S. based publication it may be wise to first check whether they will accept British/Irish English spellings and usage …. do you mean he dived or he dove? Was the body in the boot, or in the trunk? Did you use the elevator, or the lift? etc etc. Some editors will accept Britishisms, and others  won’t. Some editors will leave spellings as they stand, others insist the writer amend accordingly, and others prefer to make necessary corrections themselves – thus ensuring/insuring (see what I mean?) a measure of consistency beyond the capabilities of a non-native speaker.

And, if you are a native of the U.S.A. you may want to check with your targetted UK or Australia based publication whether they are happy to accept American English spellings and usage.

As ever, if you know of any markets not listed then do please let me know and I’ll add them to the list.

Best of luck with your submissions.


Little Door at

When you hover your cursor over Clueless Ink in the navigation bar you’ll see the item Irish publishers — a list of 20 Irish publishers who will accept submissions from writers.

I’ve imported and cleaned up the list from the Clueless, Ink blog — two of the twenty-three publishers on the original list have ceased trading, while another has changed its submissions policy.

If you are thinking of submitting work to any of these publishers it may be worthwhile to read the original posts HERE. And, as ever, make sure you do your homework before winging your work off.

If you know of any Irish publishers of fiction who accept submissions from writers which are not included on the list then do please send me a note in the comments box.

Many thanks.

Ádh mór!


Clueless about Indie Authors & Publishers

You will have noticed since your last visit that I have added stuff to the navigation bar — when you hover over Clueless, Ink a drop down menu will appear and among the items you’ll see Indie Authors & Publishers.

A few words about terminology are necessary.

When using the terms ‘indie’ or ‘independent’ publisher in the U.K. the response will depend on with whom you are discussing the term. A general reader wouldn’t really know what to think, while a self-styled indie writer would likely assume it referred to self-published output, and someone working in the publishing trade would likely bring to mind what were more commonly referred to as ‘small presses’, many subsidised by the Arts Council, or those small to medium publishing enterprises as represented by the  Independent Publishers Guild  and promoted by schemes such as Inpress.

The term ‘indie’ when applied to cultural production and distribution in the U.K. has a slightly different history to that of the U.S. and has become debased. There was once an independent film sector in the U.K. when such did not really exist (except in the Underground and on college campuses) in the U.S.. The emergence of the notion of  ’indie’ film making in the U.S. overlapped with the beginning of the decline of the ‘indie’ film sector in the U.K.

Similarly the label ‘indie’ became attached to those music bands and labels in the U.K. (Stiff Records, for example) which established themselves outwith the purview of the corporate recording labels.


However, during the post-punk settlement the label ‘indie’ soon became corrupted to imply a certain aesthetic, or style of music, regardless of any record label’s provenance.

Consequently I think many U.K. based writer-entrepreneurs are a little wary of adopting the term ‘indie author’ and, consequently, (coupled to the fact that the U.K. does not currently have an aggregator such as Smashwords to help writers distribute their work to Waterstones and WH Smith etc) there has not been an ‘indie author’ clamouring as has been experienced in the States.

There is also in the U.K. some  residual regard for the notion of amateurism, unlike in the U.S., and many U.K. self-published writers would not be offended to be referred to as ‘pro-am’ authors, i.e. professional in outlook and output though amateur in expectation and status.

Though without any stats to back my assertion, I think U.K. independent writers value more the ability to put forward their work free of commercial editorial constraints than harbour any notions of enjoying supposed luxury lifestyles through becoming the next J.K. Rowling or Stephen King. Though, as ever, there are always exceptions. And I would not be surprised if a bus load of U.K. based self-publishers now come along and tell me I’m mistaken.

However, I contend that my explication does in part explain why there are so few U.K. based ‘indie’ gatherers, shamans and rabble rousers.

If you know of any U.K. based ‘indie’ authors and publishers promoting the cause then please let me know and I’ll add them to the list. Thanks.


Glimmer Train literary magazine logo/cover

If you write short stories, and you’ve been writing for a few years, then you’ll know about Glimmer Train — the U.S. based literary quarterly.

If you write what could be termed ‘literary’ short stories, and you haven’t been writing all so many years, then you may want to consider becoming acquainted with Glimmer Train.


Well, you could win up to $2,500 for a short story — as long as you enter the appropriate category, pay the correct reading fee (between $15 and $19) and format and submit your work correctly.

Alternatively you could earn up to $700 (and receive between 10 and 20 copies of the magazine), and save yourself the reading fee, by submitting your work as a ‘standard’ submission.


Every month the editors challenge unpublished writers and established writers to send them stuff — from very short fiction of less than 3,000 words to works that may run to 20,000 words.

The Glimmer Train editors positively welcome submissions (both standard — no reading fee; and competition entries from never before published (except in a publication with a print run of less than 5000) writers.

When you visit the site for the first time it may all seem a little daunting — but browse around a bit and you’ll find it all slots into place.

All you gotta do is write a damn good story.

Glimmer Train is a serious outfit for serious writers — or, writers who are serious about their craft — and enjoys a certain cachet in the U.S.A.

If mention of the Pushcart Prize  and the O.Henry Award  rings any bells then you’ll have an idea of the calibre of the material being sought.

This month, MAY 2012, the editors are looking for material from unpublished writers which runs between 1,500 and 12,000 words. Check out the details HERE. You have ’til the last day of the month to get your stuff together.

I’m gearing up for a submission — at some point over the next few months.

Have you submitted work to Glimmer Train? If so, how was it for you? 


Clueless about 56 U.S. publishers who accept submissions from writers


As promised last week I have cleaned up the Clueless, INK list of links to U.S. publishers who accept submissions from writers.

There are now 56 U.S. publishers listed on the Clueless, INK page45 of which publish general fiction, 6 of which publish children’s and young adult fiction, and 6 of which are primarily e-publishers.

For this to make sense it may be useful to go read the original post.

A few observations — when re-visiting the list I was surprised, given all the doom and gloom being preached in these so-called times of austerity, how few independent U.S. publishers have gone to the wall. I was unsurprised to note that a good few independent U.S. publishers have tweaked their business model to embrace e-publishing as a pre-print option. The e-publishers currently listed comprise those publishers who have shifted – there are, obviously many, many more dedicated e-publishers in the U.S.A. than are referenced in the list. (I’ll be working on that list  soon).

Of the e-publishers listed I would like to draw your attention to BeWrite Books – go read their submissions policy HERE.

There are several U.S. publishers and imprints whom I know of who do accept submissions from writers but which are not listed here currently – this is because they are taking time out in order to deal with a backlog of submissions, or because they are taking time out to re-appraise their situation within a rapidly changing market.

And, please, when submitting your work to any of the publishers listed PLEASE read and follow their guidelines. You know the ropes – but, if you don’t, or are unsure, do a little more research before you send your work off.

This time next week I will post a cleaned up version of Canadian publishers who accept submissions from writers.

Wishing you the best of luck with your endeavo(u)rs.


Amazing Stories, September, 1926


You may have noticed that I have begun transferring links from the popular Clueless, INK blog to the site here – they are situated, unsurprisingly, on the Clueless, INK pages.

When you go to the menu bar and hover over Clueless, Ink a drop down menu will appear. Click on the menu item you’d like to look at and — voila! — you will be directed to the page with the information you desire.

Why? Things were getting a bit fragmented; I thought it time to start crowding under the same umbrella – makes it easier for you, and easier for me.

I’ve run through the UK Publishers who accept submissions from writers list and chucked out dead links, and those publishers who have amended their submissions policy. I’ve also re-organised the links so it is now possible to hit links by constituent nation, and added a discreet category for childrens/young adult publishers.

An interesting exercise. I was surprised how few UK publishers have gone under – or, perhaps, how many have survived. A few of those previously listed have stated an intention to return to an open submissions policy once they have got on top their backlog — but I wouldn’t hold your breath.

Among UK publishers who have modified their submissions policy is the Macmillan New Writing imprint.

If you’re looking for a UK publisher then best of  luck with your endeavours. In the meantime here’s a link to Anthony Horovitz’s thoughts on self-publishing etc.



Many UK writers often bemoan the lack of paying markets for short stories.

Here’s one: The Fiction Desk. Doesn’t pay much, but if accepted you’ll be in the running for a £200 prize for the best story as voted for by the contributors. (An excellently produced series. I’m a subscriber – and if you write short stories then you should be  a subscriber too.)

There have been several initiatives over the past decade which have attempted to address  the issue.

Some of those initiatives focussed on consumption – through trying to popularise the habit of reading short stories; other initiatives focussed on stimulating production – through encouraging ‘serious’ writers to embrace the form.

Consumption and production have never really been the issues that needed to be addressed; the problem, as with cinema, has always been about distribution.

UK writers do write short stories – UK readers will read short stories.

Only connect.

A few brave, though underfunded, ventures, such as the excellent (though defunct) coffee shop distributed Broadsheet Stories recognised this, and worked hard to put readers in touching distance of writers. A brilliant initiative, which could have been taken up by Costa Coffee, sponsors of the Costa Book Award, or Caffé Nero, or any other coffee/pub/sandwich/pasty chain with regional or national pretensions, such as Wetherspoon’s.

The Big Script says, “ The UK doesn’t do short. The USA does short.”


UK writers – England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales – have produced, and continue to produce, some of the very best short stories ever written and read.

The Big Script, if honest, would read, “The UK doesn’t value short stories, the USA does.”

So, what to do? How to supply eager readers with quality short short stories and reward writers?

Internet?  Thousands of writers, and independent publishers, are plugging away. A few are doing fine.

Email subscription services? Ditto. 

Apps?  Ditto.

Think of the places where you have unplanned time in your hands – doctors’ surgeries, dental surgeries, health centres, hospitals, hotels, the hairdressers/barbers, aeroplanes, ferries, cafés, bars, railway stations, busses, the tube etc etc etc.

Then think of the potential links – the potential synergy – think in terms of pub/café chains which are situated in airports, hotels, hospitals etc etc etc. Think of bakery/patisserie/pie shops [I’m looking at you, Greggs] chains located in or near same.

Imagine every time you went to a Prêt-à-Porter/Greggs/your local kebab shop they slipped you a story with your sandwich or pasty? First few times you may be intrigued. “What’s this scribble?” A visit or two later you may be intrigued enough to read it on the last bus/tube home.

It does not cost any more to print a wrapper with quality words which entertain, intrigue and delight than it does to print a wrapper with a list of ingredients, nutritional information and logo.

Would it be impossible for a collective of writers, or an independent publisher, (or, Gawd help us, the Arts Council or the Book Trust) to negotiate a deal with, say, two chains?

A scenario: A new imprint of an indie publisher curates, edits and designs content.  Waterstone’s pay for the content and production of a weekly/monthly broadsheet (table place-setting size) splashed with their logo, and Wetherspoon’s distributes it nationally.

Win – win – win.

  • Writers get paid and promoted and extend their readership reach.
  • Waterstone’s get the publicity and the kudos.
  • Wetherspoon’s provide a unique additional service to their clientele.
  • And, most importantly, Wetherspoon’s customers are entertained while waiting for a meal – and discover a writer they’ve never encountered before.

And the whole endeavour would likely be eligible for an Arts & Business award.

Be inventive. Get your stuff into the places where people read (not buy) stories.

New potential readers looking for something new to read are unlikely to visit bookshops and libraries – not until your writing has convinced them to.

Get the stuff out there. And make sure the stuff you put out there has all the information about your other publications, where to buy them, and how to contact you.

Distribution … not marketing and promotion alone … is the key.

What do you think? Is the notion flawed? Am I barking?

More on distribution soon.