Submission Guidelines

NIGHTMARE is currently closed to submissions.

Nightmare is a horror & dark fantasy magazine edited by Wendy N. Wagner. We feature works spanning the broad spectrum of dark fiction, with an emphasis on fascinating characters and delicious prose. Our motto? Horror is for everyone!

Submission Guidelines for NIGHTMARE



Instructions for submitting to Nightmare follow. Please read everything on this page and read the magazine before submitting. We try to open to submissions for about a week every March and September—precise dates and times vary, so check opening dates listed under categories for details (which you can find at

NOTE: If Nightmare is currently closed to submissions, please do not query asking when we'll be opening again. When we know when we're opening, we'll make that information available on this page and spread it widely.

Simultaneous and Multiple Submissions: We are experimenting with allowing simultaneous submissions; if your work is accepted elsewhere, please email us at before withdrawing your story. Multiple submissions *per category* are not allowed. However, our submissions engine will allow you to make ONE submission in every open category (Short Fiction, Flash Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, and in the case of Poetry, a batch of  up to 5 poems in one document).

Instructions:  All fiction must be submitted through our Moksha online submission system. Please do not email your submissions. If one of the Submission Type options is grayed out, that means we are currently closed to that Submission Type.

Questions/Problems: Email for all submission-related inquiries, or if you have any trouble using our online submission system. Please do not email your submissions to this address. All submissions must be submitted via our Moksha online submission system.

Rejections/Response Times: Be aware that we expect to receive well over a thousand submissions during our submissions periods. As such, we cannot offer personalized feedback on each story. Everyone gets a form rejection (for more about this, you can check out this blog post from Wendy). But know this: if we say “send more” it means we really do hope to see something else from you.

Our response times have been running about 100 days, alas. Stories that are referred to our editor's desk for a second reading will take even longer, but you will be sent a "second reading notification" if that happens. There is no need to reply to these hold letters or to rejection letters.

Cover Letters: Your cover letter may include your name and other identifying elements. It should contain the length of your story, your publishing history, and any other relevant information (e.g, if you send us a fantasy story about the Byzantine empire and your doctoral dissertation was on Byzantine empire politics, mention that). If you don’t have credentials to cite, don’t worry! We care about your story, not your resume. If you’re not sure what should go in your cover letter, this article on cover letters might help.

Diversity Statement: Horror is for everyone! We encourage people of color, Black people, Indigenous people, Native people, women, people with disabilities, older people, LGBTQIA+, and anyone from typically marginalized or underrepresented communities to submit their work. Translations are welcome and encouraged—stories that have never before been published in the English language would be considered original work.

Confidentiality: An author’s personal information (name, address, email, phone, or secret identity) will not be shared with anyone outside our editorial staff, unless the author gives us permission to share such information.



Nightmare is seeking original horror and dark fantasy stories. All types of horror and dark fantasy are welcome. No subject should be considered off-limits, and we encourage writers to take chances with their fiction and push the envelope. We are not currently seeking reprints.

Format: We're not particularly choosy about manuscript format, but a 12-point font is nice. Be sure to include your byline as you’d like it to appear in publication, and a good email address for contacting you. There is no need to include your phone number or mailing address. Your manuscript must be in either .RTF, .DOC, or .DOCX format.

Word Count: For Short Fiction submissions, we are open to stories of 1500-7500 words. Stories of 5000 words or less are preferred.

Work previously rejected by Lightspeed: Please do not submit work previously rejected by Lightspeed. (There is significant overlap between the editorial staff at Lightspeed and Nightmare, so it makes sense to share submissions between the two sister-magazines.)

Work previously rejected by Fantasy: We welcome submissions that were previously rejected by our sister-magazine Fantasy.

Pay Rate:  Nightmare pays 8 cents a word for original short stories. If there are any payment processing fees associated with your payment (i.e., if we use PayPal, WorldRemit, Western Union, Wise, or the like to pay you), we cover the processing fee. 

Rights: To see which rights we’re seeking, please review our contract template for original fiction & poetry.



“The Horror Lab” is where Nightmare puts a spotlight on experimental horror. It’s a place to explore the boundaries of form, trope, and genre—a playground for writers and readers alike. We’re looking for poetry (all styles and forms, but due to the limitations of ebooks generally and Kindle Periodicals specifically our typographical options are limited to LEFT ALIGNED ONLY, WITH NO USE OF TABS), flash fiction, and creative non-fiction. (And yes, dark fantasy is fine!)

Special instructions for poetry: You may submit up to five poems in the same document. (Our submission system will not allow multiple attachments.) Do not submit more than one batch of five poems at a time. Please ensure that the title of the poems are in the manuscript!

Word Count: All Horror Lab submissions should be less than 1500 words. (For poetry, this means the total word count of all five poems in your submissions packet should fall under 1500 words.)

Pay Rate: We pay $40 for a poem and 8 cents a word for prose (including nonfiction and flash fiction). If there are any payment processing fees associated with your payment (i.e., if we use PayPal, WorldRemit, Western Union, Wise, or the like to pay you), we cover the processing fee. 

Rights: To see which rights we’re seeking, please review our contract template for original fiction & poetry.



All nonfiction outside of “The Horror Lab” submissions are by invitation only, and all feature interviews are assigned in-house. If you wish to pitch an idea for an “H Word” essay, email with the subject line “H Word Essay Pitch.” Essay pitches should be no more than a few lines, and should connect in some way to the theme of horror. Thought pieces which bring an interesting or unique perspective will be considered.

Pay Rate: Nightmare pays $75 per essay. If there are any payment processing fees associated with your payment (i.e., if we use PayPal, WorldRemit, Western Union, Wise, or the like to pay you), we cover the processing fee. 

Rights: To see which rights we’re seeking, please view our contract template for nonfiction.



Though Nightmare previously featured reprints as part of our publishing model, going forward we are only open to original, never-before-published works. We plan to stay closed to reprints permanently; if that changes sometime in the future, we'll update our guidelines accordingly.



Nightmare is edited by Wendy N. Wagner (and was edited through Issue 100 by John Joseph Adams), and is published by John Joseph Adams via Adamant Press. You can learn more about our wonderful team on our Staff page.

Sexual themes and stories with strong sexual content are acceptable, but Nightmare is not a market for erotica. If in doubt, feel free to submit your story and let our editors decide.

Nightmare is not a market for media-based fiction (e.g., stories set in the A Game of Thrones or Buffy the Vampire Slayer universes, etc.), or any kind of fan fiction. (Note: We love fan fiction or media-based fiction as much as you do, but we’re not legally allowed to consider publishing it.)

If you’re not sure if your story is suitable, don’t query; please just submit it and let our editors decide!

Nightmare pays professional rates as defined by HWA and SFWA.



Q: Can I submit a reprint?

A: Alas, no. Nightmare no longer publishes reprints as of 2/2021.

Q: Can I submit just to the podcast?

A: We only podcast material that runs in the magazine.

Q: Can I submit a story longer than 7,500 words?

A: As of 2021, no. We no longer consider stories beyond 7,500 words.

 Q: Can I submit an excerpt from my novel?

A: We would love to share an excerpt from your novel inside our ebook! Please check out our Advertising page and look into the details about site sponsorship to find out how this works.

NIGHTMARE is currently closed to submissions.