Update: Due to the number of submissions received, the open call for Qualia Nous, Vol. 2 will close at midnight (your time) on July 31st, 2023.

Written Backwards is open to submissions for the following projects. Please do not use this opportunity (as many have in the past) to query the publisher or editor(s) about other potential projects. Written Backwards is not open at this time to fiction collections, poetry collections, novellas, novels, anthology ideas, or any other projects not included below.

QUALIA NOUS, VOL. 2 (anthology)

The first volume of Qualia Nous (2014), edited by Michael Bailey, won the Benjamin Franklin Award for science fiction and was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in an Anthology. It was a Foreword ReviewsBook of the Year finalist in horror, science fiction, and a bronze winner for anthologies, as well as a silver medal finalist for the Independent Publisher Book Awards, a finalist for the Indie Book Awards, and a winner of the International Book Award. It was also the first Written Backwards anthology (of eventually many) to contain work by Stephen King.

Usman T. Malik’s “The Vaporization Enthalpy of a Peculiar Pakistani Family” was a finalist for the Nebula Award and tied to win the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Short Fiction with Rena Mason’s “Ruminations.” And Marge Simon’s poem “Shutdown” (the only poem in the anthology) won the Rhysling Award from the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association. So, a second volume of Qualia Nous was inevitable, albeit 10 years later, and will again not only feature legends of the craft but showcase today’s emerging talent.

What does the title mean? It’s up to interpretation.

Qualia: instances of subjective, conscious experience; the internal and subjective component of sense perceptions arising from stimulation of the senses by phenomena; the way it feels to have mental states.

Nous: intellections; awareness; perception; understanding; reason; thought; intuition; the faculty of the human mind; having the ability to understand what is true or real; practical intelligence.

Written Backwards has always highlighted the work of a diverse cast of writers and will continue to do so, which is why this anthology is mostly open call and will pay above current professional rates. While not many like the term “literary,” that is what this anthology is looking for: groundbreaking work that break normal conventions and will stand the test of time, propelling emerging and undiscovered writers into the mainstream.

If unfamiliar with previous Written Backwards anthologies that blend science fiction with other genres, it is highly recommended to read previous titles, such as Prisms and/or Adam’s Ladder (co-edited by Darren Speegle), Miscreations: Gods, Monstrosities & Other Horrors (co-edited by Doug Murano), You, Human, any of the books in the Chiral Mad series, or the original Qualia Nous. Familiarizing yourself with these works will better your chances of landing a spot in Qualia Nous, Vol. 2.

All accepted works will meet active membership requirements for organizations such as the Science Fiction Writers Association (SWFA), the Horror Writers Association (HWA), the Science Fiction & Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA), and others.

Similar to previous Written Backwards anthologies, all contracts will protect the writer.


Manuscripts should include a cover page with contact information, as well as name and page numbers on subsequent pages; 12pt font, double-spaced; there are no hard guidelines for auto-rejections, but understand the basics of manuscript formatting that reflect a level of professionalism.

Instant rejections: Nonfiction, hard science fiction, gore for the sake of gore, violence for the sake of violence, erotica, romance, works that contains hate speech or discrimination of any kind other than to fight against such horrible things, reprints, excerpts, young adult, or anything that doesn’t fall under the additional guidelines below.

Original fiction: 3,000 – 10,000 words, or poetry (up to 100 lines).

Accepted genre(s): Dark science fiction and all blended sub-genres of science fiction (horror, fantasy, etc.)

Payment: $0.10 / word (ten cents) capped at 3,000 words for short fiction ($300), 5,000 words for long fiction ($500 for novelettes between 7,500 – 10,000 words); $50 for short poems, or $100 for long poems; along with monetary payment, a contributor copy of each edition will be provided.

Rights: First World Rights in English; all rights revert to the writer immediately upon publication, although 12 months exclusivity is requested, except for inclusion in a personal or “best of” collection published after the anthology.

Illustrations: Similar to previous Written Backwards titles, fiction and/or poetry may include illustrations.

Deadline: July 31st, 2023.

Reprints: No.

Publication: 2024 or 2025 (to be determined).

Formats: Hardcover, paperback, and eBook.

Special note about A.I.: all submissions will be checked for the use of artificial intelligence in their creation using detection software and will be automatically rejected if found to include influence. Likewise, any who submit such material will be banned from future submissions to Written Backwards anthologies.


Simultaneous submissions are fine, but please notify if your submission is accepted by another venue. Please only submit one manuscript at a time (fiction or poetry) and wait for a non-acceptance (rejection) prior to submitting again, with no more than 2 submissions total.

Due to the number of submissions anticipated (typically 1,000 – 1,500), non-acceptances will be announced by way of a form response as quickly as manageable. Allow up to 3 months before inquiring about a submission. For fiction and poetry that reach the editor’s “maybe pile,” additional time for consideration will be requested until the anthology is full.


Email QN@nettirw.com with the story attached (.docx, .doc, .rtf only). Feel free to include a short bio and information about your particular demographic (representing the underrepresented is a passion of the editor), but no other information is requested.

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