The Unwinnable Submission Guide

You have stories to tell. We want to hear them. We are always searching for new voices to add to the conversation at Unwinnable and we firmly believe that personal experience is the foundation of a great Unwinnable story. More and more, we are drawn to this intersection between the culture we love and the lives we live – and  how that intersection informs our actions and influences our decisions. That means everyone has a story. Even you.

General Guidelines
Send us a short paragraph that tells us concisely what you want to write about. That’s it! 100-300 or so words ought to do it. Please be concise and to the point. In the subject line, make sure you include the words ‘Unwinnable Story Pitch’ followed by a title that reflects the story. If we don’t already work together, please include a few clips of previously published work. Type your pitch in the email – no attachments, please – and send to submissions@unwinnable.com.

Don’t send us completed stories before we’ve approved them – we discard unsolicited material unread.

We respond to every pitch, but sometimes it takes a little while. Please do us the courtesy of not submitting pitches to other outlets simultaneously. If you haven’t heard from us in 30 days, feel free to query.

No multiple pitches – send us your best idea. If we reject you, feel free to retool or try something different.

Don’t let the name Unwinnable fool you into thinking we’re just a videogame site. We love to read stories about comics, movies, TV shows, tabletop games, music and just about anything, really.

We are a bit tired of stories about the various Dark Souls games, Sonic the Hedgehog, the Final Fantasy series, Zelda (particularly Ocarina of Time and Twilight Princess) and BioShock. Overwatch is getting there. Not saying we won’t accept an amazing pitch about those stories, but know that the bar is extremely high with these titles. Before you pitch a story about these games, see what we and others have already published on the subject. A unique approach is essential. 

Please remember – we are a small and independent publisher staffed by one full time editor and four part-time volunteers, so we respond slower than larger, fully staffed organizations. Ignoring these guidelines makes us sad, and less inclined to accept your pitch.

Unwinnable Monthly Columns
We are not currently accepting pitches for new columns.

Unwinnable Monthly Features
We are looking for stories that inform, illuminate and entertain. We want our stories to help our readers find things that are underground, indie, cult and lesser known. We want our writers to champion those things to wider notice. The world out there is big and strange. Guide us to new discoveries.

Stories for the magazine should aim for about 1,500 words and include supporting quotes from relevant sources. Novices and veterans alike are welcome, but our standard of quality is high, so please come to the editing process with an open mind. We’re eclectic, too, so the best way to get a feel for the sorts of stories we are looking for, both in content and tone, is to read the magazine.

As an example of both a good pitch and the sort of stories we’re looking for, please take a look at this pitch by Sophie Turner. The finished story was published in our February 2017 issue.

For the time being, we have discontinued our monthly Theme section.

We pay $.05 a word for stories accepted to Unwinnable Monthly, plus a contributor copy.

Unwinnable Monthly Fiction
We are looking for short short fiction (1,000-2,500 words) submissions. Please use standard manuscript formatting and send finished stories to submissions@unwinnable.com with “Fiction Submission” in the subject line. We want to see unusual and experimental genre work, or work that builds on what we already do with non-fiction.

We pay $.05 a word, plus a contributor copy of Unwinnable Monthly.

Unwinnable.com
We are looking for short (~1000 words) and punchy stories for the site. If the features in the magazine are expeditions into strange new territories, the stories on the site are signal flares: a quite burst drawing attention and shining light on a subject.

We view the work on our site as free form and we encourage it to be experimental. As such, we have no other advice but to surprise us.

We pay $5-10 for stories accepted to Unwinnable.com.

Updated March 10, 2017