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SUBMISSIONS

SHORT STORY SUBMISSIONS

CLOSED

STANDALONE BOOK SUBMISSIONS

OPEN

(ongoing)

HORROR, CRIME, MYSTERY, & DARK GENERAL FICTION

NOVEL, NOVELLA, AND COLLECTION SUBMISSIONS

Horror:

The themes are fairly open (not interested in stories that revolve around people feeling unloved or out of place, nor sad tales about sad people being sad, seriously don't send me this stuff, I don't want it), but my favorite stuff resembles the glory days of horror 70s, 80s, even the early 90s. Stuff like Stephen King's Pet Sematary, The Shining, Carrie, Revival, Creepshow. Think Douglas Clegg, Ray Garton, John Saul, Michael McDowell, Thomas Tryon, and so on. Also, open to absurdity, splatterpunk, dark comedy, smut.

 

Crime/Mystery:

The themes are fairly open (not interested in police procedurals, nor copaganda). Think violent road stories like The Hitchhiker and Duel, and dark family mysteries like Dark Places. Hard Case-esque stuff, authors like Donald Westlake, Sara Gran, Jim Thompson, Erle Stanley Gardner, Joyce Carol Oates’ suspense stuff (think The Corn Maiden and Foxfire: Confessions of a Girl Gang), anything by Walter Mosley, sordid thrillers surrounding regular people, and so on. Smut welcome.

Action/Adventure/Westerns: 

The themes are open, though they must be dark and fast. I'm not big on heroic army battles; isolated soldiers are cool. Monsters, dinosaurs, big animals, rescue missions, good guy heists, buddy comedies, stories based (firmly or loosely) on deceased historical figures. In period pieces, if racism, sexism, or other is necessary to tell the story right, that's fine. Nothing gratuitous (well, nothing offensive; gratuitous sex and violence are good stuff). Keep it fast! I love pocket paperbacks from the 1920-1970s, they exhibit the very kind of stuff I'm looking for.

Science-Fiction:

Very light on science and heavy on character focus. Michael Crichton-esque sci-fi is my favorite (Jurassic Park, Sphere, Drug of Choice). Medical thriller-style sci-fi works too. Not big on operas or Star Trek/Star Wars kind of distant universes or worlds. Stories should be suspenseful and leaning dark, tethered to our world. Weird sex is welcome.

What not to send: copaganda, fantasy stories (high, urban, swords...not for me), wilting flower horror, highfalutin prose, poetry, anything pro-religion or pro-religious character (gods of major religions saving the day, even lending a hand, is simply too far-fetched for me to imagine).
 

Word Counts: Novellas: 15,000+ (anything below 40K words will have doubled physical editions, meaning two stories), Novels: 40,000-150,000 (most published will be under 70,000; long books are a tough sell nowadays), Collections: 35,000-70,000 (around 55,000 is a pretty sweet spot).

 

50/50 net royalties split. No contract fees. 7-year publishing terms for paperback, hardcover, and eBook rights in the English language. I do not ask for audiobook rights, foreign language rights, or option rights. Send complete, polished manuscript, in a Word format to unnervingsubs@gmail.com Put genre of submission in subject line.  No PDFs, please.

 

Other notes: certain writing and grammar rules can be ignored or twisted for a sense of style, however, punctuation rules must be followed (seriously, read THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE by William Strunk & EB White; it's short. If this too much to ask, don't ask me to read your manuscript). When it comes to POV, I prefer third-person (without head-hopping), but first is fine. Second is not welcome (unless told in Choose Your Own Adventure style). I just don't care for it, and since this is a one-man show, I'll save myself irritation and auto-reject it whenever it pops into my inbox. Anything epistolary needs to be secondary; I have absolutely zero interest in reading an entire story made up of letters, articles, etc. If your story is experimental in style, I'm not really interested; I find that stuff tedious. Non-linear timelines in stories isn't an auto-reject; I've seen that carried out well. I prefer short sentences and short chapters. Keep things snappy. Explicit consensual fucking is fine. Explicit sexual assault is not fine. Rape revenge sucks, too. Characters can be victims of sexual assault, just not to add eroticism to the story. Art is done in-house. It might take six months for me to reply; if you blatantly ignore guidelines, I will ignore your email. Before subbing, consider that no Unnerving title has ever been in the running for a major industry award, nor has a short been acknowledged by the industry's ancient gods. There is little publicity budget for any books published by Unnerving. Most Unnerving titles earn out between $500 and $700 (some earn way more, some earn nothing at all; the latter is usually due to zero marketing effort made by the author). If you feel above shilling, go away. If you're too scared of what people will think of you for sharing your hard work online, get over it or go away. I consider THE LAWNMOWER MAN a crowning achievement of literature. I am not impressed by big words or complicated sentences. Suspense is a vitally important factor of what I'll print. Character depth is just as important. Humor is good. I grow bored easily. Don't open a story with the weather unless it's deadly. To quote Mighty Mickey Goldmill: "Speed is what ya need." If you don't care for the tone of this page, don't submit; again, Unnerving is a one-man operation.

Stories written using AI tech will not be considered.

Preferred Query Letter Style for Standalone Submissions

 

Submit to: 

Subject line: Title/Name/Word Count

Example: Carrie/Stephen King/67,000 Words

 

Email:

 

<Salutation>

 

Brief synopsis of pertinent information of story submitted.

Example: Carrie White is a chubby loser with no friends, a religious-obsessive and abusive mother, and the gift of telekinesis—skills which she hones in quiet loneliness. A cool couple feels guilty for a prior transgression and attempt to integrate Carrie into high school society, unaware it will trigger a revenge plot against the girl. Embarrassed and enraged by the plot, Carrie uses her supernatural powers to destroy the high school society, town, and mother who have kept her down.

Top five writing credits.

Example: The Glass Floor – Startling Mystery Stories (Fall, 1967)

The Reaper’s Image – Startling Mystery Stories (Spring, 1969)

The Blue Air Compressor – Onan (January, 1971)

It Grows on You – Mashroots (Fall, 1973)

Nine short stories – Cavalier Magazine (1970-74)

 

Bio, maximum of one hundred fifty words.

Example: Stephen King teaches English at Hampden Academy and earned his English degree from University of Maine at Orono. His short stories have appeared in several journals, magazines, and periodicals. He lives in Maine with his wife and their children.

 

Links to your social media accounts and website (if you have one).

Not on social media? I probably won’t publish you. Selling indie books is a team effort.

Final note: Unnerving books do not include trigger warnings as the only logical route beyond normalizing this activity is weaponizing it against free speech. (If you think this is an exaggeration, consider horror comic history, and the voluntary decision to follow the Comics Code Authority rules.) If this is a deal breaker, do not submit to Unnerving.

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