NIGHTMARE Needs Slush Readers!

Now that Nightmare is fully-funded, we’re looking to the future, and that means opening to fiction submissions. (We’re currently planning to open on June 15; watch this space, or our Twitter stream @nightmaremag for details.) As such, we’re looking to fill out our editorial team, and that means finding some volunteer slush readers.

If you’re not familiar with the term, “slush” is what people in the publishing industry call unsolicited submissions–that is, stories that writers send in without an explicit invitation. Most magazines have an open submissions policy–as Nightmare will–which means that anyone in the world can send in a story for us to consider, and all those stories are collectively referred to as slush.

It’s too early to say how many submissions Nightmare will receive every month, but at Lightspeed, we receive around 700 monthly, so we need a team of dedicated readers to make recommendations to the editor. That means reading and evaluating submissions, and either recommending the editor read the story himself or recommending that he reject it. There’s a bit more to it than that, which we would discuss if you’re interested in applying for the position, but that’s the gist.

And why would anyone want to do such a thing? Well, reading slush is one of the best things a writer can do to improve his or her writing because it really helps you read as an editor (and by reading lots of stories that don’t work, you can’t help but learn lots of lessons). Also, if you’re interested in working in the editing field, it’s almost always where you start, so it’s good experience.

Before you apply, some details to consider:

  • This is a volunteer, unpaid position.
  • To avoid conflicts of interest, slush readers may not submit fiction to Nightmare (but they may submit to Lightspeed). If you quit as a slush reader/editorial staff member, you may submit fiction to the magazine six months after your last day.
  • Slush readers are expected to read at least 2-5 stories 4-7 days a week. To get the most out of the experience, reading at least 5 a day is recommended.
  • We will have a team who regularly process the slush. We will have a two-day turnaround (one for the slush readers and one for the editor to review and send rejections/acceptances).
  • Out of respect for the writers who submit to us, who cover a wide range of experience and skill, slush readers may not post online about the stories they read, even anonymously.
  • Nightmare accepts electronic submissions only, so you’ll have to be comfortable reading on your computer or ebook reading device. (If you have a Kindle or Kindle app, our submission system can be setup to forward submissions to your device.)

If you’re interested in applying to be a slush reader for Nightmare, please email me at In your email, please provide the following information:

  • What are some of your favorite horror short stories? (Or if your experience is mostly with horror novels and/or films, that’s okay too.)
  • What is your writing/editing background? (If your background in either is nonexistent, that’s okay, though a love of horror fiction is paramount.)
  • Why are you interested in reading slush?
  • What you hope to get out of the experience?

Well, that about does it. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!