So, you want to submit a story to Nature Futures?
OK. Take a seat. This won’t take long. Don’t worry about the alien, he always does that when he sees strangers, it doesn’t stain. I’m afraid I can’t offer you any refreshments — the service droid blew a fuse last week and the spare part is stuck on a shuttle somewhere between here and Titan. But, as I say, this won’t take long.
If you’re sure you wish to send a story to the orbiting station that is the Futures submissions hub, it’s probably easiest if I upload the instructions via the mind link. Ah. Unusual. OK. Well, in that case I will have to spell out the protocols the old-fashioned way.
The very first rule is, I’m afraid, prepare to be disappointed. This is not a bad thing, but as for any science-fiction outlet, Futures can publish only a limited selection of the stories we receive, so rejection is part of the process (and it is honestly no more fun to issue a rejection than it is to receive one).
The second rule is that contributions to Futures are welcome from absolutely anyone, irrespective of whether they are writing their first story, or are professional or published authors. There are, of course, some basic requirements, so here are some frequently asked questions:
What kind of story is Futures looking for?
Futures is a venue for very short stories or ‘vignettes’ of between 850 and 950 words. The subject is typically near-future, hard SF, although this can be interpreted liberally. In short, what Futures is looking for is originality. To this end it is advisable to read as many previous Futures as you can, as stories that repeat themes already dealt with extensively are less likely to be considered than those that do something new and different. Futures does not consider reprints of stories previously published elsewhere.
How should I format my Futures story?
Please write it in Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx). Include a title and your name and contact details at the top. At the end, please attach an autobiographical squib of no more than around 30 words.
How do I submit to Futures?
Please submit stories as a Microsoft Word attachment by e-mailing futures AT nature.com. Paper submissions will not be considered. Please note that this is a submission inbox and as such you will not receive an acknowledgement of receipt. We will, however, respond to you once your story has been read.
What happens next?
We aim to read all submissions within 40 days of receipt and we will then let you know what is happening. Sometimes, unexpected events such as solar flares and alien incursions through temporal portals will delay our response. Please be assured that if there is a delay, we will respond to you about your submission one way or another. Given the number of submissions we receive, it is impossible for us to provide detailed feedback on rejected stories, and authors should be consoled that stories are likely to be rejected for reasons of space, taste and the whims of the editor rather than literary quality. Appeals on decisions to reject, or rewrites of previously rejected stories will, regretfully, be accorded a very low priority.
What happens if my story is accepted?
If your story is accepted you will be sent a licence form to sign. Your story will then be edited and artwork will be commissioned. You will be sent proofs in due course, which you will be expected to return promptly. And, of course, you will receive a (non-negotiable) fee of £85 or US$130.
It really is as simple as that. If you want to access previous Futures stories easily, you could do worse than upload the e-anthologies Futures 1 and Futures 2 to your preferred reading device. Other than that, I’m afraid you’ll have to see yourself out as I need to finish plotting the coordinates for the next story’s release. Yes, the door does stick sometimes, just give it a gentle shove with your shoulder — oh, and mind the wormhole on the way out.