Submissions

Here at The NoSleep Podcast, we love nothing more than hearing from up-and-coming or seasoned horror writers who’d like to work with us. We want you to frighten us and mess with our heads, so we in turn can terrify our listeners. As such, we’ve prepared a handy list of submissions guidelines to get your relationship with our show started. We welcome and encourage a broad, diverse range of submissions from all across the horror genre, and can’t wait to read the spine-tingling tales you send us.

Submissions are handled by our team of editors, who upon your story being selected will work with you to ensure your story is primed for audio adaptation.

This email is for story submissions only. Submissions or inquiries about art, voice acting, or contributing to the podcast in some other form should not be sent here. The editors don’t handle that side of the podcast and won’t be able to answer your questions.


SUBMISSION GUIDELINES

Please email submissions to: submissions@thenosleeppodcast.com

In the body of your email please include the title and exact word count of the story.

Please send submissions as an editable attachment.
Microsoft Word documents are preferable. Please do not submit your story or script as a .PDF file as we cannot edit or annotate it easily. Anything submitted as a .PDF file will be automatically rejected.

Please do not submit your story by pasting the text into the body of your submission email.
This breaks the formatting of your story and makes it exceptionally hard to read, requiring us to reformat your story ourselves just to be able to assess it. Any submissions received in this manner without an attachment will be automatically rejected.

Please double check that your story is actually attached to your email. 

If your story submission has been posted online at any point, please provide us with a link so we can share the text version with our listeners.

Due to the high volume of submissions we receive, any submissions that don’t follow our requirements will be automatically rejected.
Please familiarize yourself with the guidelines carefully before submitting in order to receive a response from our team.


Submissions

Flash fiction submissions are currently closed.
We have so many incredible flashfic stories to get through. We’ll reopen them later in 2019. That means the two options are short fiction (stories between 1200 and 2500 words) and regular fiction (stories of 2500 words and upwards). For new submissions, both of these should be sent to the submissions@thenosleeppodcast.com email.


SHORT FICTION REQUIREMENTS

Here’s what we’re looking for:

Stories between 1200 and 2499 words.

They have to be really scary. Any perspective or tense is fine for these. Single character stories are fine. Prose or script format is fine. For the most part, these stories will be appearing on the regular show, so cool soundscapes and attention to how they’ll sound in production is helpful.

We pay $100 for short fiction stories and payment can be made via Paypal or Amazon gift card.

Email your short story in .doc form or similar universally editable file (NO PDFS PLEASE) to submissions@thenosleeppodcast.com.


REGULAR STORIES

Here’s what we’re looking for:

Stories of 2500 words and over.
Please include a word count with your story. If possible, include a spoiler-free list of characters with speaking roles, including the narrator.

We pay $125 for regular stories via Paypal or Amazon gift cards.

Note: We have no maximum word count, but incredibly long stories have to be exceptionally good for us to accept them. We get so many stories that would adapt into a production of an hour or more, and often their length isn’t warranted. To work out your story’s rough running time, take the word count and divide it by 155. Then take a listen to the podcast and gauge the average length of stories we do most often. It’s very rare we’re able to say yes to a 50+ minute story as it’s a massive commitment in all ways. Try and be ruthless with your editing and make sure everything in your story is going to have a good pace when it’s translated into audio. Feel free to send longer stories in if you’re really confident in them and their suitability for audio, but be strict with yourself when you’re appraising them. You can get away with padding in prose but you really can’t in audio.

Email your story in .doc form or similar universally editable file (NO PDFS PLEASE) to submissions@thenosleeppodcast.com.


SCRIPTS

We’d love to see more script submissions, as these have proven to work very well on the show. Scripts should ideally last between 20 and 40 minutes, and star 2 or more characters, with more being preferable. Please include a word count with your script, and a spoiler-free list of characters with speaking roles. If you’re new to scriptwriting and you’d like an example of how to structure and format an audio-only script, you can download an example

Please make sure your script is written as an audio drama. We can’t adapt scripts written as a screenplay, or scripts that heavily feature visual cues. Anything not written in an audio drama format will not be accepted.


GENERAL GUIDELINES

Please email us at submissions@thenosleeppodcast.com.

If your story is selected, you may be asked to work with the story editor on edits or tweaks to ensure your story is as perfect for the show as it can be.

Feel free to introduce yourself and say hello, but things like cover letters or CV’s aren’t required.

Please be considerate of other authors waiting for a response. Choose one or two of your best works and submit those via an attachment in a single email. Please don’t send link-dumps, or refer us to an entire anthology of your work. Similarly, please don’t send rapid-fire submissions. Ideally wait a few weeks between submissions. This is a polite request and not a rule however, and if you have a burning desire to send another story over in the meantime, go for it.

Stories can appear elsewhere. Previously published or performed stories are fine, as long as you hold the rights to grant usage to The NoSleep Podcast. However, stories which have not already previously appeared in audio form will have priority.
Please do not re-submit stories that have already been passed on. If we think a story could work with certain changes or rewrites, we’ll reach out to you and let you know. This applies to all stories, including holiday specials.

If you’re submitting a story for a holiday special (Christmas, Halloween etc) then say so in the subject line of the email. This is super important! If you don’t do this then there’s a good chance it’ll get overlooked for a specific episode.

Only submit your own work. We can’t adapt stories without the permission of the author.

If for some reason you’ve decided to withdraw your submission, let us know immediately. Due to the extremely fast turnaround time, a story might be put into production on the same day it’s accepted. By submitting a story, you’re granting us permission to adapt it.

We cannot provide a personalized response to every author individually. Similarly, requests for writing advice or critiques will probably go unanswered. However, even if a story is rejected you will hear from us saying so as long as the submission falls within our guidelines.

If your story submission has been posted online at any point, please provide us with a link so we can share the text version with our listeners. Secondly, when including a word count, please include the exact word count rather than an estimate. Thanks!

Due to an ever-increasing volume of submissions and a number of documents which are almost impossible to format, we are now requesting the following formatting requirements for submissions going forward:

No tabbed indents.
If you need to remove tabbed indents from your submission document, an easy way to batch remove them is find/replace ^t with nothing in the replace field.

Documents where you’ve created tabbed indents by pressing space bar a bunch of times will be automatically rejected.

Please spend some time on editing and proofreading your document.
We get dozens of submissions a month with mistakes so obvious that you couldn’t fail to miss them on an editing pass, leading us to believe that these editing passes aren’t being done. Obvious things like sentences ending half way through, nonsense typos that aren’t real words etc. Sometimes we find these in the opening paragraph.

Keep the header/footer blank.

Stick to one font and don’t use fancy title fonts or similar.
We format the documents to Calibri 14 so it’s a waste of your time. If your document is already Calibri 14 then we’ll love you more.

Keep the prose left aligned.
Nobody wants to read a 4000 word center aligned story.

Only use one space between words.
We get submissions with two, three or even four spaces between words at random and it’s an absolute pain to fix if the amount of spaces fluctuates. If we have to spend hours deleting spaces from your document, it won’t be considered.

Give the document a sensible file name.
Title – Author is ideal. Make it as easy as possible for us to search for, find and assess your story. HotSexySubmission.doc might seem funny at the time, but it’s less funny when your story gets overlooked because we can’t recall the filename to locate it!

Give your story an extra editing pass for superfluous commas and run-on sentences.
These are the bane of our lives as editors of an audio production because excessive commas can be extremely disruptive to the voice actors. If your 150 word paragraph is one sentence long with twelve commas, it shouldn’t be. This is the single biggest issue that takes up our editorial time and we’d like to see more authors making a concerted effort to fix this stuff up before submitting. You don’t need to guide the reader by the hand to quite the degree some people do with commas, they’re capable of parsing sentences with only the most mandatory of commas in place. Go through your story and remove any commas that don’t absolutely need to be there when you’re writing for audio.

If you post your stories to Reddit, please remove the Reddit formatting before sending it in.
Your submissions shouldn’t be rife with asterisks and underscores framing a bunch of words. Likewise, please edit things like ‘I’m posting this on Reddit because’ or even ‘I’m typing this’ or similar unless it’s mandatory to the plot (for eg it’s framed as something that’s been written up and is then being read by another person). If you want your story to be adapted on the podcast then it should be from the perspective of being spoken aloud. We do audio drama adaptations, not narrations. There are many great horror narrators out there but it’s a different medium and requires different presentation.

Remember that somebody has to do all these things.
You might have a reason why you use three spaces between words, or center align, or have a complex and unintuitive filename, but someone has to fix it. If it’s left to us to fix thousands of typos, superfluous spaces, tabbed indents etc then that’s (much, much) less time we have to focus on selecting stories and giving people opportunities to be on the show. If it’s something generic that the editors can fix, it’s something you can fix before you send it in. The great thing about digital is that you can save as many copies of a file as you want. If you want your prose version to have tabbed indents, that’s great! Save another copy without them to submit to places who don’t want them. If it’s in your muscle memory to double space between words and you just can’t break the habit, cool! But you’re also able to find/replace double space with single space. If you don’t have time to proofread and edit your story in general, then… actually there’s no excuse for that, it just means you’re only doing part of your job as a writer.

If you forget to do any of this, don’t worry!
Unless it’s incredibly obvious that you’ve made zero effort, we’ll still consider your story. You don’t need to send in six revisions fixing things.

This only applies to submissions going forward.
If you’ve already submitted something filled with tabbed indents or something then we might frown at it but we won’t hold it against you. Please don’t send in revisions of existing submissions.

When you’re submitting somewhere, you want to do everything you can to make it as easy as possible for the editors to accept it. Everything we get submitted has to be edited and adapted into a uniform script type for our voice actors. If we have two equally great stories and one has been submitted with care in the presentation and the other hasn’t, and will take hours longer to edit, then we’re going to go with the former every time. If we have to spend 10-15 minutes just preparing your document for you so it’s readable for assessment then we don’t have that 10-15 minutes to spend making an awesome podcast.

Unless it’s obvious that you’ve flagrantly ignored our submissions guidelines, you will hear back whether it’s an acceptance or a rejection. We’re in a place where we’re very on top of things and nothing is slipping through the cracks. If you haven’t heard back then it’s because we have nothing to tell you right now. As soon as your story’s been selected or rejected, you’ll know. Especially with flash fiction; if you listen to the show, you’ll know that our flash fiction episodes only happen generally once a season, so we’re simply unable to be constantly assessing the hundreds of flash fic submissions we get a week. Now that flashfic submissions are temporarily closed this is less of an issue, but if you have a pending flash fiction submission then please be patient. 

Please include the phrase ‘I’m bracing myself for The NoSleep Podcast‘ in your submission email.

Remember also that we don’t require submission exclusivity – you’re welcome to submit it elsewhere in the meantime. All we ask is that after a story is selected you allow us 3 month audio exclusivity (eg don’t grant permission to dozens of other podcasts and YouTubers within three months of us buying your story). If you granted permission before we accept, even if their version goes up later, it’s okay! That said, we always extremely appreciate any exclusivity you’d like to offer us, and if your story’s entirely unpublished upon acceptance then make a note of it.

Finally, queries and questions regarding pending submissions should be sent via email to the submissions address. It’s constantly monitored by multiple people so don’t worry about your email being lost in the deluge. Please don’t contact our editors on their personal social media channels about your submission – this is how things get forgotten or overlooked. Tweets asking about submissions will likely not be seen. Likewise the person running the admin email can’t help you with submission queries, it’s a totally different department. Please don’t send submission-related questions to our admin email, our Facebook page or group.


WE PAY FOR STORIES

Short Stories (1200 to 2499 words): $100
Regular stories (2000+ words): $125

All payments made in US dollars and the author has a choice of payment via PayPal or Amazon gift cards. As mentioned above, please state your payment preference upon acceptance.


THINGS TO CONSIDER

Be familiar with the podcast and know about the kinds of stories we do on the show. Here are some details for what works best for the podcast:

Must be horror. Horror is a diverse genre, and this is open to interpretation, but the main focus of a story should be to scare or unsettle.

Stories should be written in the first-person perspective. While there are occasional exceptions to this rule, first-person tends to work by far the best for the show.

We don’t want narratives which rely solely on graphic gore (snuff, torture porn, etc.) or graphic sexual violence. Implied instances will usually be okay but as with any good horror, thoughtful is the most effective.

Provide good audio cues. This is an audio podcast – the better your story can sound the better it will be for the show. Scenarios that involve interesting or creative audio will always catch our eye.

Make good use of dialogue. Stories with only one narrator can work but we prefer 2+ characters interacting.

If your story doesn’t fit the requirements (eg it’s a third-person romantic sci-fi comedy, it’s a second-person guide to fishing), don’t waste your time by sending it in with an essay about how you know it goes against the submissions guidelines but you’re confident that this will be the story that causes us to change what we do entirely. It won’t. I promise. We do horror stories. We do horror stories that adapt well to audio. If your submission isn’t any of these things, we’re not going to accept it. Honestly. It’s great that you have that much confidence in your approach, but so do we. We’re not the only publication out there. Send it to someone who does the same kind of thing as you.

Here at The NoSleep Podcast, we pride ourselves on featuring seasoned horror authors alongside fresh, up and coming talent. We love working with newcomers, but if you’re just starting out in the field we ask you not to take it personally if we choose not to use your story on the show. It takes a lot of practise to write a story that is suitable for audio adaptation, and we would always welcome you to try again with a new submission if a previous one isn’t right for us. Rejection doesn’t mean you’ve missed your chance. Feel free to submit new stories even if previous ones have been rejected.


RESPONSE TIMES

Current response times can vary wildly. Even if you haven’t heard back from us within a few months, it doesn’t mean your story’s been rejected. We have thousands of submissions between a tiny team, and sometimes it may take a while to get back to you. We intend to respond to everyone whose work meets our guidelines, but occasionally human error may occur.

Due to the high volume of submissions we receive, any submissions that don’t follow our requirements will be automatically rejected. Please familiarize yourself with the guidelines carefully before submitting in order to receive a response from our team.


RIGHTS & LEGAL

Authors retain full rights to any story or script performed on The NoSleep Podcast. All we would ask is that starting from the date of selection of your story, we receive a 3 month audio exclusivity period during which time your story will not be performed on any other horror podcast or in any audio narrative medium without written permission from Creative Reason Media. Stories may be published in text form by the author at any time.

Creative Reason Media does not retain the rights to publish or distribute your story outside of the audio performance without written permission from the author.

Audio production of your story remains the property of Creative Reason Media and may not be altered, sold or distributed outside of The NoSleep Podcast without prior written permission.