Inner Worlds is a quarterly digital zine of speculative stories about our inner lives; our thoughts, our emotions, our perceptions, our dreams.
We aim to publish works which use elements from science fiction, fantasy, or horror to illuminate the different ways that we experience our selves and our world.
That might mean finding a metaphor to express a feeling, or a setting which reflects how your brain works sometimes, or turning a trope on its head to explore a different perspective.
We have a specific interest in sharing:
- stories of neurodiversity
- experiences of psychological struggle or distress, madness, and extreme states
- the voices and perspectives of marginalised groups.
We'll walk with you in the dark places. But we want your humour, joy, and wonder too.
"Can you promise me I'll be happy?"
"No, man. Absolutely not. But I can promise that you won't be alone."
-Russian Doll, Season One "Ariadne"
Read Inner Worlds
Inner Worlds Issue 1
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Who we are
At the moment it's just me, Sarah. As a writer, a champion daydreamer, and as someone with lived experience of complex trauma, I'm fascinated by our inner worlds. If you are too and you'd like to get involved in some way, please get in touch at ourinnerworlds[at]gmail.com.
Support Inner Worlds
1) Send us your words! We're not a pro rate paying market at this time, but we promise to treat all submitted stories with care. Submissions will reopen in January.
2) Subscribe! There are a few different subscription levels available and it all helps cover the costs. In fact, if we got 15 Blackthorn subscriptions, we could increase our pay rate!
4) Tell your friends! If you like what we're doing here, please share the issues and individual stories with your networks.
5) Buy me a coffee! This is a project I'm passionate about because I've benefited so much from writers sharing their truths through speculative fiction. But I know it's going to be a lot of work and I do love coffee.
What to submit
- Science fiction, fantasy, or supernatural horror prose that has a strong emotional or psychological focus. We are mainly interested in fiction, but we're open to speculative memoir or creative non fiction, as long as it has speculative elements. Please see 'What We Like' below for some examples.
- Stories in English, between 500 and 2,500 words. Please send only one story at a time.
- Simultaneous submissions (when you send your story to more than one magazine at once) are welcome, please just let us know straight away by emailing us at ourinnerworlds[at]gmail.com if your story is accepted elsewhere and you need to withdraw it.
- Reprints are welcome, as long as they're not already available somewhere free to read online.
When to submit
Inner Worlds will publish four times a year, in February, May, August, and November, with four reading periods split into two.
The first two weeks of each reading period is reserved for members of marginalised groups, primarily BIPOC, members of the LGBTQ+ community, women and other marginalised genders, neurodivergent authors, Deaf and disabled authors, and authors with lived experience of mental health challenges or who identify as Mad.
The second half of each reading period is for general submissions and is open to everyone.
- January 1 - 14 Members of marginalised groups only.
- January 15 - 31 General submissions.
- April 1 - 14 Members of marginalised groups only.
- April 15 - 30 General submissions.
- July 1 - 14 Members of marginalised groups only.
- July 15 - 31 General submissions.
- October 1 - 14 Members of marginalised groups only.
- October 15 - 31 General submissions.
How to submit
- When you're preparing your document please use black text, in a font and size that's easy to read, on a plain white background. If you like, you're welcome to use modern manuscript format.
- Please remove your name and any other identifying information from the document.
- Include any content warnings for your piece at the top of the first page. If in doubt about whether to add a content warning or not, please do, and especially for stories which feature abuse, sexual assault, psychosis, or suicide.
- Our submission manager can accept .doc, .docx, .pdf, and .txt file types.
- Cover letter is optional (here are some examples) but if your work is a reprint, please let us know when and where it was published before. And if there's anything you'd like us to know about your identity or your experience which you feel is relevant to the work, please include it in the cover letter.
- If your work is accepted for publication you are welcome to use a pen name or to be anonymous.
- When you're ready to submit your work please use our submission form. (Link will be here when submissions are open.)
- If you have sent in a story and received no response after three weeks, feel free to ask for an update by emailing ourinnerworlds[at]gmail[dot]com.
Payment and terms
- We offer payment of £0.01 per word for each piece accepted.
- Payment can be made via PayPal or bank transfer.
- For original, unpublished works we request first worldwide publication rights in English. For reprints we request non-exclusive reprint rights. We also ask for non-exclusive audio rights as we hope to share stories from each issue via a podcast too.
- Please think carefully before sending us your original work. Once it has been published somewhere you won't be able to sell it to another market at the same rate, so if you haven't already, you might want to try it at some higher profile, higher paying markets first. (We love Submission Grinder and Chill Subs to find markets!)
What we like
Here are some works and authors we love!
"That Story Isn't The Story" by John Wiswell
"I Wear My Spiders In Remembrance Of Myself" by Kel Coleman
"Sand" by Jasmin Kirkbride
"Getaway" by Jennifer Hudak
"The Final Whisper" by Jon Olfert
"Haunting Lessons" by Patrick Barb
"Second Chances" by Lesley Nneka Arimah
"Away With The Wolves" by Sarah Gailey
"Nice Things" by Ellen Klages
"The Paper Menagerie" by Ken Liu
"When I Lived with the Witch" by Sage Tyrtle
"85 Days In Flight" by Madeehah Reza
"We Bleed Water" by Katie McIvor
"Where Are You Right Now?" by Rodrigo Culavoski.
Beloved by Toni Morrison
The Golem and the Djinni by Helene Wecker
A Close And Common Orbit by Becky Chambers
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
All Systems Red by Martha Wells
Every Heart A Doorway by Seanan McGuire
What Moves The Dead by T.Kingfisher
Burning Girls by Veronica Shanoes
The Last House On Needless Street by Catriona Ward
In The Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado.
Please don't send us
- Don't send us work that is sexist or misogynist, racist, ableist, or harmful to LGBTQIA+ people.
- Don't send us stories which rely on stereotypes (here's a list of resources to help identify these).
- Porn and erotica are not for us. If there's a sex scene in your story please add a content warning.
- Don't send us stories featuring graphic depictions of physical or sexual abuse.
- We are very interested in stories which express or explore experiences of mental and emotional distress, extreme states, and madness. However, we are keen to avoid the many harmful tropes in this area. For example: a 'mad' or 'mentally ill' person is a murderer; the whole story is revealed to have taken place in the mind of a psychiatric inpatient; the protagonist meets an eldritch horror and 'goes insane' in a theatrical manner etc
- We don't ask for stories to be 'own voices' (that is, for the writer to have lived experience as a member of the identity group they are writing about) but please think carefully about why you are the right person to tell this story, and what research you might need to do to tell it sensitively.
- Don't send us work created using language learning models such as Story Engine or ChatGPT. If we learn that you used these tools to produce your story you will be banned from submitting stories in future.
If we decline your story
First of all; I'm sorry. Rejections always hurt, especially when it's a story you've put your heart into.
Just because we didn't accept your story doesn't mean it's no good, or that it won't find a home somewhere. Even if we really like a story, we can't always take it. We can only afford to buy a few stories for each issue, and as well as looking at each story on its own merits we're thinking about balancing topics, genres, tone etc.
I hope you can be proud that:
a) you wrote the story in the first place, that's something a lot of people will think about their whole lives but never actually do
b) you took a chance and sent it out into the world, which takes courage.
Thank you for sharing it with us.
We're also open to scifi, fantasy, or horror* cover art submissions from everyone during all submissions periods. Payment if accepted is £45. All rights remain with you, and we don't ask for exclusivity.
We won't accept artworks created using Midjourney or any other 'AI' tools. We also can't use any art which features copyrighted characters, so fan art is out.
Please send up to three pieces for consideration to ourinnerworlds[@]gmail.com when submissions open.
*To save your time: please no gore, spiders, erotica, or anything that might make someone with trypophobia feel queasy 😅