What is Crowded?
Crowded is a speculative fiction magazine published as an iOS app for the iPad and as a PDF. When time and budget allow we plan to expand to an Android tablet-friendly format as well.
How does it work?
Crowded has a few unusual features.
We have two ways for authors to submit their stories.
Stream 1: Crowd
In Stream 1 we allow authors and subscribers to read, rate and comment on the stories submitted. We use the ‘wisdom of the crowd’ to help us sort the best from the rest, and then we publish the best.
If you submit a story of at least 500 words you can access Stream 1, rate stories and make (helpful) comments.
Stream 2 : Reader
In Stream 2 we use a traditional ‘first reader’. Stories submitted to this stream will be read by a member of staff, but will not receive comments or a star rating.
All stories will receieve a response 60 days after they have been activated by a member of staff. A story is activated once it has been reviewed and found to meet the basic guidelines. This usually occurs within 24-48 hours of submission.
We publish 1-2 stories monthly and then collect them into an end of year annual as an iPad app, PDF, ebook and Print-on-Demand perfect bound book.
I want to be a slush minion! How can I join?
To access the submission system you must submit a story at least 500 words in length. You will receive an email when your account has been activated and you can access the system.
How do the Stream 1 ratings work?
Another good question. It's a four-star system, with a "free comment" section. When you read a story, you will be asked—at minimum—to rate it one through four stars, and make any comments you think are appropriate. Ratings are blind. You will not know who wrote the story you are rating, and you will not know your story's rating until the reading period is over.
What if nobody reads my story?
This won't happen. We have a stable of dedicated slushreaders who will go through and read everything in the system. At minimum, at least two different slushers will read your story.
Why would I bother to rate anybody else's stories?
This is a dumb question, but we'll answer it anyway. It's a quality thing. If you were published in our magazine, wouldn't you want your story to be featured next to writers of a similar caliber and writerly awesomeness? Of course you would! Only an idiot would leave it to blind chance, and you're not an idiot, are you? This is your chance at quality control. It's in your best interests to make sure that only the best stories are published: it'll make us look good, it'll make you look good. Everybody wins.
How do I submit my stuff?
Go here and read our submission guidelines.
Will there be moderators?
The short answer is yes. There are, of course, caveats. This is not meant to be a soft-and-cuddly forum for gladhanding and mutual masturbation (we originally wanted to call the magazine The Bear Pit, if that gives you any indication) but we understand that the internet is full of jerks, and our intent is to provide a forum for good, constructive feedback. Personal attacks will not be tolerated, and folks looking to get their troll on should apply elsewhere. If we decide your comments cross the line you will be banned and your story will be removed from contention, so play nice.
How will you stop people from gaming the system?
We've hired our very own Avenging Angel, complete with fiery sword, to guard our writerly Eden. Anyone suspected of gaming the system will be treated with Extreme Prejudice. Also, as the people ultimately responsible for the quality of the magazine, we will exercise our judgment as to whether a story has been impacted either positively or negatively by cronyism.
Will you be sticking your editorial oar in for any other reason?
As much as we’d love to allow the crowd to decide everything, we will intervene in the following circumstances:
- We get two or more stories on a very similar theme (unicorn-riding purple midgets for instance) that both rate highly enough to otherwise warrant inclusion
- We get more good stories than we can afford to buy (we can dream can’t we?). We may occasionally hold exceptional stories that, for whatever reason, we cannot include in the next issue, but we will try not to make a habit of it.
- We’re convinced you got your granny, sister and all 38 of your cousins to subscribe just so they could vote for you
- Legal reasons (plagiarism, copyright violations, slander, libel etc)
- And, obviously, if you choose Stream 2 you put your fate entirely into our hands.
What are you looking for?
Speculative fiction is usually defined as anything in the science fiction, fantasy or horror genres. If you forced us to we'd further define it as: fiction containing something commonly thought to be impossible; an element of the supernatural, technology not yet invented, or imagined worlds clearly not our own.
Given the selection methods, keeping your story popular would probably be a good idea; excessively literary short stories are probably doomed to fail, but you can always give it a shot if you're feeling froggy. Please, no fan fiction. Originals only. I can’t stand to lose another job because of George Lucas (don’t ask).
Any content restrictions?
In practice, no. If you write a great x-rated speculative fiction story in theory we will publish it. But again keep in mind the nature of the story selection. Your cannibalistic gore-a-thon is unlikely to appeal to, well, anyone, and will hence be one-starred into oblivion by the crowd. A good rule of thumb for any 'iffy' content is to ask yourself if it is integral to your story. If you can leave it out you probably should. And just one more time, this is a speculative fiction magazine, so no straight erotica, crime and etc.
What is the minimum and maximum story length?
If you write 500 brilliant words, we'll take them. If you post a 20,000 word masterpiece, there's a good chance most readers won't make it to the end, but go there if you have to. Nothing over 20,000 words please. Our servers can’t take the strain.
How much do you pay?
It always comes down to this, doesn't it? 5 cents per word Australian. See what we want for our money in the submission guidelines.
What if some jerk steals my story?
This is so rare as to be a non-issue. We can't promise it will never happen, but plagiarism tends to be one of the things authors worry about needlessly. Critters.org has been running for well over a decade with a similar system and they have never had a problem (see a discussion of this issue here). We have obviously erected some barriers to make people feel safer, we know everyone's real name if the worst should happen. If, however, it really worries you we have an alternate, traditional submissions pathway, just chose the ‘Stream 2: Reader’ form on the submissions page and your story will be read by staff only.
Can I withdraw my story?
Sure, at any time.
Do you accept simultaneous submissions?
What about rewrites?
Get it right the first time, please.
No unsolicited reprints, sorry.
For any other questions, please email the overworked and horribly underpaid (can zero dollars per year really be called underpaid?) staff at: editor at crowdedmagazine dot com.