Submission Guidelines

Pop Seagull Publishing General Submission Guidelines


Update 2016/01/02: Pop Seagull is closed to submissions until further notice. Sorry, but any unsolicited submissions during this time will not be responded to.

Please read this guide in full before submitting. Additional guidelines may apply for individual themed anthologies.


Hi! Welcome to Pop Seagull Publishing’s guidelines page. We want you to submit your Science Fiction, Fantasy or Horror work to us! Before we get to the author requirements, though, we want to tell you a little bit about the company, and what we can offer you.


Pop Seagull Publishing is a small publisher of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror fiction founded by author and editor Elizabeth McLean in order to showcase the kind of amazing fiction that thrills writers and readers alike. Our core values are offering readers a unique, fun reading experience that they won’t get anywhere else, working closely with authors to help them develop as artists and make sure more of their original vision ends up in the final product, and aiming to offer 90% Canadian authors in all our productions*. We count anybody who has ever lived in Canada for a significant period of time and held citizenship as ‘Canadian’. And, if you’re not Canadian by any stretch of the imagination, don’t worry! We do include non-Canadian authors in our anthologies, and will consider work from elsewhere. We just aim to keep the proportions at nine to one**.

*Update 18/11/2014: Originally, this was a hard and fast rule, but due to a lack of Canadian entries, we decided to make this a goal that we work towards. 

 **Update 18/11/2014: Our ranking system privileges good quality Canadian works over others, but in the event of a lack of qualifying submissions, we will change this ratio at the editors’ discretion. If the ratio of Canada to other countries is not nine to one, we will aim for as diverse a group of non-Canadian publications as possible.

We’re also very proud of our artwork at Pop Seagull. Our designers are Sheridan College trained artists who do this stuff for a living, and we strive for the most eye-catching and professional looking covers and interior illustrations. Everybody knows that, despite the old saying, people often do judge a book by its cover, and if you go with us, your book’s cover will be awesome!

If you’re a new author, we want to hear from you! Don’t be shy… if you’ve got a piece of work that is finished and ready to go, and you think we might enjoy reading it, send it. The worst we’ll say is no, and we try to provide as much useful feedback on submissions as possible.


We are a paying market, for both short fiction and novel sales. For short fiction we are currently paying 1 cent per word, plus three free copies of the book and a discounted rate on future purchases. For novels, we cannot afford to pay advances at this time, but we offer a generous percentage of net profits from all sales, payable quarterly, ten free copies of the book, and discounted rates on future purchases. We buy first North American Print rights, and First Electronic Rights for all published pieces.


So, What Are We Looking For?


General Guidelines


Please read this first batch of requirements carefully. Failure to do so may result in your work not being considered.


#1: We accept Microsoft Word files (.doc and .docx), PDF and Open Office (.odt) files only. If you send us anything other than these formats, we may not be able to open it. We only take e-subs. Please send all queries and works for consideration to lizmclean(dot)artist(at)gmail(dot)com. Copying and pasting work into the body of the email is also acceptable if you do not have any of the software we use.


#2: We prefer manuscripts in a standard, easy to read font such as Times New Roman, Helvetica or Courier. Please double space your work, and put your name, address, phone number, email and blog/webpage (optional) in the upper left-hand corner of the top of the manuscript.


#3: Short story submissions should include a cover letter that does not summarize the story, but rather introduces you as a writer and gives us a title and word count. For novels, please query first, then if we like your query, we will ask for a portion of the work and a synopsis.


#4: We do not accept unfinished manuscripts.


#5: Unless and until we send you a contract, nothing guarantees an author acceptance. If the story’s not right for us, it doesn’t matter if it came from my beloved grandmother. We also reserve the right to cancel any publication to which no contracts have been signed, for any reason whatsoever. In the unlikely event of this happening, applicants will be informed of the cancellation.

#6: Please, read the guidelines regarding specific anthologies before submitting. We are NOT accepting general short story submissions that are not related to our anthology needs at this time. We also do not consider stories that have nothing to do with the stated theme of an anthology.


Things we like to see in Pop Seagull Fiction


Here are some elements that might draw our attention. This isn’t an exhaustive list, nor do successful candidates have to have all of these, but if your story has one or more, it may be for us!


A sense of fun and adventure that pulls the reader along and excites their sense of wonder. I love classic action movies like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Wars and The Matrix. In these kinds of stories, complex protagonists with a strong goal and a lot at stake are the most interesting to me.


-An incredible sense of atmosphere and descriptive, visual storytelling. Blow us away with your unique settings, your outlandish ideas, the beauty and power of your concept. We like ‘atmosphere pieces’, as long as they’re anchored in at least one character and their journey.


-Stories that are rooted in the author’s culture, place in the world, and unique perspective on things. Think you’re boring? Think again! We love to see strange tales that are rooted deeply in local colour and the author’s unique point of view and way of being. This includes stories rooted in the author’s culture of origin, region, or personal lifestyle. We are LGBT friendly and sex-positive, and will gladly publish work from a queer perspective.


-We like unusual twists on classic tales and folklore, but only if it’s truly unique and not relying on the stereotypes established by others in recent years. Beware vampires, werewolves and fey, if the treatment is not unique from recent popular franchises. Zombies have to have something special. For an example of what we mean, see Ira Nayman’s story ‘To Zombie or Not To Zombie’ in Spirits of Suburbia.


-A sense of humor is great, even if the story is largely serious. A little humor almost always helps with pacing.


-We are very interested in reading work from First Nations authors, so if you’re someone from the Native community who enjoys writing SF/F/H, give us a try! We’d love to see what you’ve got.


-To summarize, if there is one thing we must emphasize over all other points, it is that we want to see fiction that entertains the reader, not just the writer. Give them something bold, new, interesting, compelling or fun.

Things we prefer not to see


The items listed below are considered guidelines only. If you still think, after reading them, that there is a chance we might enjoy your piece, send it along anyway. It’s what we would do. Having said that, here is a list of things which will be deleted unread:


-Hate literature against any person or group of people

-Hard Core Pornography (unless solicited for a specific anthology)

-Anything depicting sexual acts with minors or animals

-Anything which is not science fiction, fantasy or horror and has not been directly solicited by the editors


Stuff that might be a dealbreaker for us:


We don’t really like anything that glorifies crime, so that ‘Sopranos in space’ gangster epic you’ve been plotting out probably isn’t a good fit.


Romance is very welcome here, but especially for longer works, we prefer plots that offer readers other elements to enjoy as well. No clingy, co-dependant Bellas, please, unless they achieve a satisfying character change by the end.


We’re not big fans of unlikeable protagonists here. Antiheroes, sure. We love to see the monster made into the hero. But if your protagonist is constantly making decisions that are obviously stupid, hurtful or just plain oblivious and not seeming to learn from their mistakes, it won’t hold our attention for long.


We love to see intelligent fiction, but we have found that sometimes there is a fine line between intelligence and smarminess on the part of the author. Ask yourself: is your premise contributing to the reader’s entertainment or enlightenment, or is it merely designed to go ‘Aha! I got you!’? Is it unique because the freshness of the premise is entertaining, or because you thought bending over backwards that far made you look clever? The answers to these questions make all the difference to us. We’re not big fans of coyness (holding back essential information simply to roll it out later in an Aha! moment) meta-fictive lectures to the reader on how stupid they were to trust you as the author, or endings that are deliberately unsatisfying to make a statement. Taking risks is great. Destroying the entertainment value of the work just to take those risks, in our humble opinions, is not.


What is Pop Seagull actively seeking right now?

We are closed to submissions until at least December of 2016. Sorry, but any unsolicited submissions will not be responded to.

17 thoughts on “Submission Guidelines”

  1. How do you accept submissions? Do you have an e-mail address or do you accept through a third party site, such as Moksha or Submittable?

  2. Izzy Neil said:

    Regarding Love, Time, Space, Magic: would you consider an urban fantasy m/m romance? Specifically one that featured humans with extraordinary abilities (esp, empathy, etc).

  3. Do you send confirmation emails when you’ve received a piece for the anthologies? I would like to make certain my submission made it through the spam filters…

    • That’s not actually a standard thing yet with us, but if someone doesn’t hear from us within thirty days, I would advise them to query. I’ve sent an email about the status of your submission. Thanks! 🙂

  4. Will you consider robot poems for your Robotica Anthology? I have a poem about robot cosmonauts.

  5. Shawn P. Madison said:

    Hello Elizabeth – would you consider a single author collection of science fiction short stories?

    • It’s not what we usually do, necessarily, but I would be willing to look at a query. I’d want to know, in addition to your background and inspiration for the work, a brief synopsis of the stories included and what, if anything, ties them together thematically. Thanks for considering us! 🙂

  6. I’m still wanting to submit for Robotica, but my story is not ready yet. Will you still be accepting submissions after May 1

  7. Yes, we’d very much like to include you in the Robotica submissions. As long as you can get it to me in the next couple of weeks, that’s fine. Sooner is better, but I won’t be making any solid decisions until the latter half of May.

  8. see you at Can-Con! But before I tie up one of your pitching slots, are you interested in YA SF?

    • Hi Timothy! We most certainly do take YA. In fact, we just announced Timothy Carter’s funny fantasy YA, The Five Demons You Meet in Hell, for our Spring lineup. Don’t be a stranger! 🙂

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