Guidelines Questions
BCS Raises Pay Rate to 6 Cents/Word
Posted in: About BCS, Editorials, For Writers, Guidelines Questions by Scott H. Andrews

Effective May 31, 2014, Beneath Ceaseless Skies has raised our pay rate to 6 cents/word.

This higher pay rate will meet the new qualifying pay rate for short fiction set by SFWA, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, which goes into effect July 1, 2014.

From our debut in 2008, BCS has taken great pride in being a ‘pro rate’ market, and a pro-rate market that is accessible to new writers. All writers deserve professional pay for their work. New writers deserve markets that will help them to establish themselves as short fiction authors and as members of the F/SF field.

Over our six years of publishing, we have heard from many of our newer authors that their sale to BCS was their first ‘pro’ SFWA-qualifying sale, allowing them to join SFWA as an associate member, or was their third ‘pro’ sale, allowing them to join as a full member. We are delighted that our dedication to earning and maintaining SFWA pro status has facilitated those opportunities for them and their work.

Our Submission Guidelines have been updated to reflect this new pay rate. We look forward to continuing to support new writers and continuing to showcase great fiction from writers both new and established.

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Unsolicited Rewrites?
Posted in: Guidelines Questions by Scott H. Andrews

06-20-2010, 02:09 PM

Originally Posted by a_r_williams

I have questions about BCS’s policy regarding stories that have previously been rejected by BCS.

1. Does BCS accept stories that have been rejected before if they have undergone significant revisions?

2. If resubmissions are allowed, ....

Good question–thanks for asking.

No, we do not accept unsolicited rewrites of stories that we’ve already rejected. (That is a pretty much universal policy among short fiction markets–I don’t know of any magazine that does accept them.)

What we do do is that if we think a submitted story is not quite right for us but might could be made to work for us with revisions, we offer the author a rewrite request.

We do get asked often about unsolicited rewrites, and I think it’s because we make specific personalized comments in all our rejection letters.

We intend those comments as explanation of why that particular story didn’t work for us. Hopefully they give the author some insight into what we are looking for as relates to their own work.

Our hope is that that insight will help them to make their next submission better fit what we’re looking for. And we have seen that happen repeatedly–writers who’ve had stories rejected by us sending in another one that fits BCS perfectly.


Very Short Story Length?
Posted in: Guidelines Questions, What We're Looking For by Scott H. Andrews

07-10-2009, 09:35 AM

Quote: T. Edwards

I’m curious to know what BCS’s stance on very short stories is. I have a few stories that I’m thinking of submitting, but they’re extremely short (around 1000 words). Would their brief nature decrease their chances of being accepted, or is shortness irrelevant?

Thanks for asking. Length is irrelevant to me–I’m only looking for great stories. However, I do often find that for secondary-world types of fantasy, stories of very short lengths don’t have as much depth or richness of setting that I’m looking for. Please feel free to submit them, but know that I think it’s a challenge to build a full world in such a short length.


Clarification of “Science Fantasy”
Posted in: Guidelines Questions, What We're Looking For by Scott H. Andrews

12-08-2008, 09:32 AM

Quote: M. Arkenberg

Clarification of “Science Fantasy”

Where is the line (as far as BCS is concerned) between Science Fantasy and Science Fiction? How much “technology” is too much; alternatively, how much “magic” is too little?

That’s a great question–thanks for asking.

First, an aside: I personally don’t think “magic” is a necessity for adventure fantasy or a fantasy secondary-world. Lots of worlds have it, but I as a reader find just as much awe in fantastical animals or plants or landscapes or sentient beings. Any of those sorts of thing would make a setting seem fantasy to me.

As for technology, I don’t want anything that feels modern or contemporary or futuristic. Using historical eras of Earth’s past as a guide, I would draw a loose line at the end of the Victorian era or the start of the 20th century. Steam engines, clockwork devices, and early cartridge-based firearms are all present in stories that are forthcoming in BCS this winter. Halloween parties, household electricity, styrofoam cups, anti-aircraft guns, urologists, artificial wormholes, containment fields, blue blazers and brown slacks, movies, television, yuppies, American football, and VW Microbuses are all elements from stories that I’ve rejected in the last month for feeling more modern than I’m looking for.

I also think part of the feel of the technology in a story comes from the characters’ attitudes and vocabulary about it. I sometimes see stories where characters in a low-tech world act or talk like modern people in a high-tech world, making modern assumptions about how societies work when their society doesn’t work that way. So for me, it’s not just the actual technological elements but also the society that contains them and the characters the story is showing in that society.

Basically I’m looking for a pre-modern feel, regardless of the actual time period. I think that feel could exist in a post-apocalyptic Earth, if so much of our technology was destroyed that the societies left over didn’t have advanced tech and didn’t have modern attitudes about it. Dune feels mostly pre-tech to me because the Fremen have very little advanced tech and have non-modern attitudes about it. Jack Vance’s Dying Earth stories have sorcerers flying from planet to planet, but they’re using magic instead of technology, and their attitudes and vocabulary are colored by magic and not by tech.

So that kind of low-tech future setting could give the pre-tech sort of feel I’m looking for. It’s just that the pre-tech feel is more commonly found in bygone eras, whether true historical ones or fantasy ones inspired by them.


Dark Fantasy?
Posted in: Guidelines Questions, What We're Looking For by Scott H. Andrews

08-28-2008, 04:34 PM

Quote: tlmorganfield

Hi Scott,

I have a guidelines-related question. There’s no mention of whether or not BCS is looking for dark fantasy. If you are, where do you draw the line between dark fantasy and horror?

Best, Traci

So long as a story is sufficiently secondary-world and character-driven, I don’t mind dark fantasy or horror fantasy at all.

I didn’t specifically mention them in the guidelines because horror is most often set in the real world or a paranormal version of it, so I wouldn’t be interested in that because of the setting, and “dark fantasy” is often a synonym for horror.

As an example, the story of mine in Weird Tales #347 gets pretty dark, both physically and emotionally, but it is character-driven and set in a pre-tech secondary world. Anything like that would definitely fit what I’m looking for.



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First World Serial Rights?
Posted in: Guidelines Questions by Scott H. Andrews

08-05-2008, 08:36 AM

Quote: Citanzero

Hi all,

I’m new to the forum – seems like a great community coming to fruition here.

Sorry if this has been answered somewhere else already: does anyone know a good website for additional information about First World Serial Rights? I read what was written in the submissions section, but couldn’t bring up much more on google after a quick search or two.

Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks and best wishes,

Joseph Turkot

One reason you may not find many hits on “First World Serial Rights” is that it’s a fairly new variation. In the days of traditional print publishing, most US-based magazines bought First North American Serial Rights, covering the US, Canada, Mexico, and Central America. (If you google that, or its acronym FNASR, I bet you’ll get tons of hits.)

But for online publishing like Beneath Ceaseless Skies, the readership extends far beyond just North America. Tons of people are online all across the world, and many of them speak and read English as a second language. So First World Serial Rights cover the entire world.

(The basic point behind any “First” rights is that the story can’t be sold again as a new or unpublished story; it can only be sold as a reprint. That’s important for short fiction because most magazines (including Beneath Ceaseless Skies) only want new stories that can’t be found anywhere else, not reprints that have already appeared in another magazine. For novels, it usually doesn’t matter.)

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Story Scope?
Posted in: Guidelines Questions, What We're Looking For by Scott H. Andrews

07-29-2008, 03:36 PM

Quote: John Arkwright

Tolkien said Middle Earth was a lost age of our Earth–Midgard.

If I have read your magazine’s concept correctly, you are not interested in anything as far removed from our existence as Middle Earth. Is this correct?



Sure, he said that, but that was more his intention than any claim that Middle Earth ever actually existed. :)

Actually, no. I want things that are as far removed from our modern contemporary existence as possible. I want neat, weird, awe-inspiring things that are unlike anything I’ve ever read before.

I’m unlikely to enjoy any setting that is very similar to Middle Earth, but that’s only because I’ve already read two great books set there, written by the man who invented that world. I want stories set in other neat worlds that are just as deep and lush as Middle Earth, but unique in their own ways.

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Artwork Submissions?
Posted in: Cover Art, Guidelines Questions by Scott H. Andrews

07-29-2008, 03:28 PM

Quote: eric orchard

Will you be accepting art submissions as well?

We will only be replacing our cover art every six months or so, so we have no plans to open to art submissions.

We are always on the lookout for artists to purchase work from or to solicit for artwork. So if you’re an experienced fantasy artist, feel free to query us about your artwork using our Contact page. Please include the URL to any online gallery that you might have so we can check out your work.


Scott H. Andrews

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Clarification of “Fairy Tale Fantasy”?
Posted in: Guidelines Questions, What We're Looking For by Scott H. Andrews

07-29-2008, 03:22 PM

Quote: Chris Modzelewski

I have a quick clarification about your submission guidelines. You specifically mention that “Fairy Tale Fantasy” is probably not right for BCS. I’m wondering what you would characterize as “Fairy Tale Fantasy”?

I’m guessing this includes the obvious Hans Christen Andersen, Grimm, George MacDonald, etc. type of work. But what about more mythopoeic work? For example, would you characterize the likes of Lord Dunsany (especially in his earlier work), HP Lovecraft and many of the Victorian fantastists as “Fairy Tales” (although admittedly of a much darker tone)?

Much of this type of work has a fairy tale structure, but a decidedly different tone, style and theme...

I’d appreciate any clarification you can provide, and I’m looking forward to seeing your issues!

Thanks for the clarification and best of luck,
Chris Modzelewski

Thanks very much for posting. Basically, I’m looking for stories that are zoomed in tight on a protagonist who is facing struggles of some kind. I find that fairy tale-style narratives don’t usually provide that, for several reasons.

–The point-of-view in fairy tales is usually distant, with the tone of a narrator telling the story rather than the reader experiencing it along with the character. I prefer the more intimate feel of close points-of-view.

–The plot in fairy tales is often not a large or immediate struggle. For example, many fairy tales take place over decades, with large spans of time in between important events. I prefer a struggle that’s so intense that there can’t be any lapsed time before the character either conquers it or succumbs to it.

There’s a lot of fantasy short fiction these days that uses distant points-of-view and drawn-out plots and a dreamy feel. Those fairy tale-style elements usually prevent a story from feeling gripping and immediate to me.

As for fairy tale structure, I’m not sure exactly what you mean. The quest structure or plot comes from fairy tales, but it has been used the framework for many gripping, immediate tales, like Lord of the Rings and “At the Mountains of Madness.” The “rule of threes,” as writers call it–the escalation of a plot through three incidents of successively more tension–also comes from fairy tales, and it’s such a universal storytelling technique that it’s in movies, fiction, and even jokes.

I think that plot or structure is such a base framework element that it can be adapted to most any type of narrative voice or feel, so I think most any type of plot could work for the type of stories I’m looking for. I also think mythic archetypes, of both plot and character, can be used successfully in most any style of story. It’s more the fairy tale delivery and tone that usually don’t work for me in the types of story I want for Beneath Ceaseless Skies.