Guideline FAQ

Thank you for your interest in the Archives. We know that publishing can be daunting, and it’s easy to overthink guidelines, so we put together a few frequently asked questions for both writers and artists, outside of the main guidelines! If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out at or leave a comment below.


Q: What’s with your shifting submission windows?

A: A very fair question. We have multiple editors, all with extremely different schedules. To make sure all work gets our full attention, that means some schedule shenanigans.

We’re currently testing a couple of different windows, and hope to settle into two per year based on what works best. Apologies for the inconvenience in the meantime!

Q: Help! I haven’t received a confirmation email, but I submit two+ days ago. What happened?

A: This happens occasionally! Please email us to confirm. All of the emails are sent by people, not automated systems. Depending on the day, we can get large numbers of submissions in a short period, and might miss replying to one. Not receiving a confirmation doesn’t mean we didn’t see it, or won’t look at it, but it’s better to make sure that we received it (we’ve had a couple of submissions disappear into the void, with creators querying about submissions we couldn’t find record of).

Q: What’s your turnaround time?

A: That really depends. We have long submission windows, but won’t send acceptances until after the window ends, so if you send something in early, it could be months. We try to respond to all writing within a month of the window closing date, and paired artists soon after.

We try to send rejections as we go, but as part of our anonymous process, we read in batches. That means responses sometimes have to do with how many submissions are coming in. We’re working on improving our system, and things should speed up in the future!


Q: What is is paired art vs. individual art? Do you have a preference?

A: Paired art is how we refer to art commissioned specifically for a piece of fiction that’s already been chosen. If we like your portfolio, we’ll give you a chance to read all the available stories whose authors want illustration, and you can pick your favorite! This is first-come-first-serve, though, so not every story might be available depending on how long it takes to reply. If you’d prefer we pick a story for you, we can do that, too!

Individual art is art that is submitted as a complete piece during a submission window, with no relation to any story. Since we try to maintain a general theme/tone per issue, this can be trickier to place.


Q: What should go in my cover letter?

Since submissions are anonymous, your cover letter doesn’t matter too much! We do like receiving one, though. We prefer ‘dear editor’ to ‘dear Cormack’ or ‘dear CM Baldwin’, just because Cormack isn’t necessarily the editor replying. A good boilerplate is:

Dear Editor,

My name is [name]. I would like to submit my short story [title], which is [word count] words, for your consideration for Archive of the Odd.



IMPORTANT NOTE: If there is crucial information you want editors to know, please put it at the top of your submission document, under the title. One good example would be if characters use slurs. Sometimes, we can’t tell by text alone whether you a marginalized author reclaiming them or someone being a jerk. Likewise, we might not know if you are writing about a fictional event or a historical event we just don’t know about. If the information is in a cover letter, it is lost to us until we’re already responding.

Q: I read the zine. Does my submission have to be formatted like that?

A: First off, thank you! Second, no, it’s not required! Visual elements are generally from the editorial side. As long as we can follow what’s going on, plain text is fine. By all means, though, if you want to, you can set up your story however you want.

We do not consciously give pre-formatted pieces an edge, but if you have what it takes to design your own forum, mimic online article formats, or provide the world’s most disconcerting children’s product design, we do delight in seeing them.

Q: How does the blind submission process work?

A: In the most convoluted way possible. You send in your submission. If you’ve removed author information, great! We download it*, and it goes into a folder. If you didn’t, that’s okay, there’s no penalty. We’ll remove the information (if .doc/.docx/.rtf), or black it out (if .pdf), and it goes into the same folder. After we reach a threshold (usually 10 submissions), those submissions are shared with all editors and read in a batch. This reduces some of the subjectivity of judging, as well as making it harder for the person who downloaded the submission to connect it to its author.

We read every submission all the way through. If it doesn’t meet our guidelines, we’ll reject with an explanation of what guideline it didn’t meet. After that, pieces are ranked within the pool. If we like a piece, it remains in the pool, and will be addressed again when we have more pieces to compare it against. Usually, in a pool of ten, the bottom five will be rejected.

This process of adding, rereading, and rejecting the bottom half continues until we have our final lineup. We often reread pieces three to five times when making final decisions, comparing themes, pacing, and how different groups of stories would read together.

*All rejected submissions are deleted immediately afterwards.

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