August 12, 2018 update: we are currently working through our backlog of fiction submissions and at this point are not soliciting any more. We’ll remove this note when we’re able to accept new ones. For nonfiction submissions, please contact us.
By the fact that you are looking at this website should mean that at a minimum you are familiar with the work of Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Paul Cain and some of the second generation hard boiled authors like Thompson and Spillane.
No cozy or locked room mysteries are wanted here. Keep the conversation terse and to the point, with concise, hard-hitting prose and you might have the makings of an author that would deserve a place on this site.
Need a starting point for a style guide? Read Shaw’s The Hard-Boiled Omnibus, Nolan’s The Black Mask Boys, Goulart’s The Hardboiled Dicks, or Dziemianowicz, Weinberg and Greenberg’s Hard-Boiled Detectives.
Have you got a story that’s perfect for the pages of Black Mask? We’re actively looking for new material to publish. But it has to be the type of story that should see print in Black Mask.
What’s Black Mask’s preferred story length?
We don’t have one. We’re in the market for 5,000-word shorts, and if your story is good enough, we’ll entertain novel-length yarns as well. But remember: it has to be the type of story which would be at home amongst the material originally published in Black Mask during the 1920s–50s.
If you have to shoot for an ideal word count, however, try to average 10,000 words.
What is Black Mask’s preferred story setting?
We’d prefer to publisher “period” stories. Alternately, we would consider stories which don’t rely on or reference a certain era. As long as the reader isn’t jarred by encountering a story which doesn’t flow with the rest of the vintage material also appearing in Black Mask.
Does Black Mask’s accept series characters?
Yes! Black Mask has a long history of publishing series characters. However, each installment should stand on its own and not depend on the reader to track down earlier installments in order to enjoy a complete reading experience. Otherwise, your story would be considered a serial, which wouldn’t work, given Black Mask’s protracted publishing schedule.
I’d like to write a new story featuring a classic Black Mask or Dime Detective character. Can I do this?
Perhaps. Get in touch with us and pitch your idea.
I’d like to write nonfiction. Do you accept such material?
Yes, we’re always looking for nonfiction pieces which would fit in with Black Mask. Some general ideas:
- Hard-boiled fiction book reviews (both old and new)
- Articles on vintage pulp fiction authors
- Scholarship on detective pulps in general
- Interviews with pulp authors
These are just some ideas to consider. We strive to publish at least one of this type of piece in each issue of Black Mask.
So what’s the first step?
Contact us with a brief story proposal. Please understand that it may take us several weeks—or longer—before we may reply.
If we’ve given you the OK to submit a manuscript, please note that we have certain formatting requirements. We’ll be using your file as the initial step to lay it out in our magazine or ebook layout tools, and we want to ensure there are as few potential landmines as possible. Here are some basic guidelines:
- Make sure your document is in .doc or .rtf format.
- Don’t try to do any fancy formatting in your manuscript: it likely won’t be retained. Instead, please note such requirements.
- Do not tab your paragraphs: we’ll have to remove these.
- Italics is OK.