ergot. is a literary website interested in furthering the innovative and experimental tradition in horror.
We seek previously unpublished fiction and hybrid work under 10k words (including excerpts and work in translation) that push out the boundary of what literary horror is and what it might become.
The only surefire way to understand what we we publish is to read through the archive
Feel free to include a synopsis of the story’s plot in your cover letter. If you are able to do this easily then the story is probably not a good fit for this site.
"If lucky, experimental writing secretes an element of timeless surprise. Not just because of incredulous transformation (the process itself for the writer, the inspiring result for the reader) but because of its transferability, that the surprise can pass on.
Experiments, if deemed successful, are so only because they confirm a truth No matter how random or errant or strange or “uncalculated” the terms and parameters of the experiment
Too much emphasis on experiment as formal/textual procedure. That is the interface of the experiment But the point, the longer point, is to rewire so that we can better surprise ourselves without constantly calling what we do experimental.
Honing our capacity to surprise is also how we hone our sense of humour. We widen our caprices and harness more shades. The joke itself does not matter"
We are far less interested in "Experimental" work (attempting to display the author‘s brilliance through references, tricks or gimmicks) than experimental work (that seeks to push out the boundaries of what fiction can and might do).
Work where very close attention has been paid to the prose style.
Work that values atmosphere and mood over plot.
Work that fails in new and unusual ways over work that succeeds in the tried and true.
Hard sells include:
Stories where the only experimental element is an epistolary form or the inclusion of footnotes (epistolary works have been around for more than five centuries and aren’t particularly experimental anymore, though epistolary stories than include other experimental elements may be of interest)
Your thinly veiled rape fantasies or other explicit sexual content for its own sake
Stories narrated by children who are one-dimensional paragons of wonder and innocence
Please send only one piece (less than 10k words) - or up to three pieces of flash fiction (less than 1k words each) - of unpublished work at a time. Please send as an attachment in one email. Please send the entire story, portions of stories will not be considered. Please do not paste the story into the body of the email.
What does 'previously unpublished' mean?
Most venues (including ergot.) ask for 'first publication rights'. This means we want work that has not been available to the public before.
There has been some confusion about this in the past, so in order to avoid any ambiguity, here are some specific cases:
- Has the work been published on a website, magazine or personal site at any time in the past?
- We consider this work to have been previously published, and we will not consider it for publication.
- But the site/magazine et c. where the story defunct and you can't read it anymore.
- Sorry, the piece was still published. Luckily, there is a good chance the story can still be reached via the Wayback Machine.
- The story is currently unpublished, but I'm going to self-publish a collection in a few days.
- We ask for 30 days of exclusivity, so if the story will be published anywhere else in the next 30 days we will not consider it.
- The story was up on a site where people signed up to provide editing feedback (like Scribophile). Is that okay?
- As long as readership was limited to those who intended to provide editing feedback this is totally fine.
- This is mean/rude/unfair/I don't like it.
- Exclusive rights are the norm at nearly all semi-pro and pro writing venues. In order to pay money for a story we expect some guarantee that the public is going to come to ergot., and not elsewhere, to read that story.
Resubmitted work will not be considered. If you notice a mistake in your submission please do not withdraw and resubmit. This clutters up the inbox and makes the editing process more difficult. All work is edited prior to publication and if we find a typo we will fix it then.
It should go without saying that submitting another's work as your own, even with some changes, is plagarism and will not be considered.
If you submit plagarised work, or submit work that has been previously published (without written solicitation), we will take this as you granting us permission to mention the plagarism/resubmission on social media and all future submissions from you will be deleted unread.
Simultaneous submissions are accepted and encouraged.
ergot. pays $25 per piece
If your own falls into this vein feel free to send a .doc, .docx, .rtf or .pdf with the subject:
SUBMISSION: Your Name - Title of work
We generally respond to all submissions within 30 days. If you have not recieved a response by that time check your spam folder. If there is nothing in your spam folder feel free to send a follow-up email.
There is currently no deadline; submissions will remain open until further notice.
Please check back frequently as ergot. is a work in progress.
ergot. is a small endeavor and we tend to move quickly.
In most cases work will be published two and a half weeks after acceptance.
First we will confirm with you that the work is available to be published (i.e. ‘not previously published’ and ‘not accepted at another venue’). We will also want to make sure that you are around and available on the week of publication. If you plan on summiting K2 or getting your dog's appendix removed that week please just let us know and we can reschedule.
Then, we will send over the terms of publication (‘the contract’) for the author to approve.
At the beginning of the week of publication the editor will proofread the work and may offer some suggestions on the text. The author always has final say on the piece and may accept or reject these suggestions.
A sample layout will be delivered for the author to approve a few days before publication. Work will go live on Friday around 0900PST and will be promoted on Twitter, RSS and possibly other venues. Payment will be sent out shortly before publication.
Most of our authors would love for you to produce, republish, remix or otherwise promote their work, but - outside of short quotations and other instances of fair use - you must secure written permission from the author before using their work in any way.
After publication on ergot. the rights for each story reverts to the author, so you must contact the author directly in order to secure permission. In most cases an author‘s email address can be found in their author bio, social media accounts or author site.
If you have trouble contacting an author we would be happy to ask them if you can use their work, and/or put you in contact with them, just email us at email@example.com with the title of the story in question in the subject line.
Please understand that this doesn’t mean we don’t want you to re/use work from ergot., only that the author must be contacted beforehand, and approve of, any reuse.
Using a story without the author’s permission may preclude the author from publishing their work in other venues, prevent them from payment from that publication and can make you liable for copyright violation - plus it is generally an uncool thing to do - so we take this very seriously.