Open call for submissions – Black Dogs, Black Tales

Many writers and creatives are plagued by depression and anxiety, often referred to as “The Black Dog.” Ironically, it is during these dark days that our furry friends become our strongest supporters.

I’m working with a fantastic team to put together a horror/dark fiction anthology with a strong, canine theme where all sales go towards supporting mental health and suicide prevention charity:
The Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand.



Open call for submissions

We are excited to share this open call to writers of horror and dark speculative fiction. We want you to submit your best short story between 2,000 and 6,000 words for our forthcoming charity anthology “Black Dogs, Black Tales”.

This will be a dark, doggy-themed collection where absolutely anything with a canine connection goes, with one essential caveat – the dog does not die. Everyone else can be slaughtered by zombies, or lost in the depths of deep space, but the dog (or dogs) will always survive.

What are we looking for?

We want you to think outside the box (or kennel) with this one.

  • Perhaps the dog is the killer, or maybe the dog kills the killer.
  • The dog might be your protagonist, unreliable narrator, or any other major character.
  • We welcome robot dogs and Frankenstein-creature dogs, mutated or evolved dogs, dogs with a sixth sense, or dogs that are just very special in their own right!
  • They can be real life dogs, ghost dogs, demon dogs, or the proverbial black dog.
  • Most importantly, surprise us with your best writing. We prefer psychological and supernatural or creature-feature stories over out-and-out gore.

We definitely don’t want:

  • We will not accept over-the-top unnecessary violence and gore; bestiality
  • No homophobic or transphobic stories or speech, or bigotry of any kind including sexism, racism, ageism, ableism, body aestheticism, etc.
  • No bullying of any kind, or violence towards children or infants.
  • The list goes on, but essentially your stories can be mature in nature but not offensive toward any group of people.

Important note: this anthology is aimed at raising money and awareness for a mental health charity. As such, any stories which are not deemed “safe” from a MH perspective or which seek to promote or glorify suicide or self-harm practises are likely to be rejected. We are working very closely with the MHF to ensure that despite featuring dark/horror stories the overall tone of this collection is one of positivity and hope.

Our editing team will assess all stories on a case-by-case basis. If you have a story which touches on these themes please do not be put off from submitting, and feel free to contact us with any questions you may have.

Are profanities okay?

Some swearing is fine, especially if it fits the tone.

And humour?

Of course! We want to have a unique and varied collection. Not all dark fiction has to be serious.

What about werewolves?

Yes, you can write about werewolves, but we would be looking for a strong and unusual take.

When should I submit by?

Our deadline is 29th February 2020, although we would recommend you don’t leave it quite that long, to allow time for feedback and perhaps nudge your story back between the guiderails.

Will I be paid?

  • This is a charity anthology and all proceeds will go towards the Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand, a charity which helps to run campaigns and services that cover all aspects of mental health and wellbeing. You can find out more about what they do here: https://www.mentalhealth.org.nz.
  • We feel very strongly that all writers should get paid for their work. We are currently running a Ko-Fi campaign — https://ko-fi.com/blackdogsblacktales — to raise funds for this anthology which will also allow us to pay the writers of all accepted stories a nominal amount (up to a maximum of $20 USD per story). The writer may also choose to waive this payment, in which case it will be donated directly to the charity. We need you to be aware that payment for your story will only be possible if our target goal is met. If you are unhappy with these terms, you are free to withdraw your submission up to 2 weeks prior to publication.

Are you looking for artwork?

Our front cover has been designed by Canadian artist François Vaillancourt, but we would be very keen to receive any suitable artwork which could be used as interior illustrations. Please contact us if you think you have anything suitable.

How else can I help?

If you’d like to offer assistance in publicising and marketing the book, arranging interviews or blog posts, or can provide editorial or other related assistance, please feel free to contact me.

In what formats will the collection be available?

Both ebook and print versions will be available.

Who will be the publisher of the book?

I’ve approached Steve Dillon from Things in the Well to be the publisher, and he’s gladly signed up for it. It will be formatted to align with their distinctive look and feel, and will fit in well with the other books in their series of themed anthologies.

How should I submit?

  • You can email your story to tabathawoodwriter@gmail.com. You can also direct any questions to that address. We do not accept postal entries.
  • Send your story as an attachment in .txt, .docx .doc or .pages format. No .pdf’s please. Your subject line should be as follows:

BDBT – {your name} – {title of story} – {word count}Example: BDBT – John Smith – My Dog Has No Nose – 3,000

In the body of your email, please include your name, title of story, word count, and confirm your email contact. We will contact you for your author bio if selected.

  • Please DO NOT include your name anywhere in your story. All submissions will be read anonymously by our editing team.
  • We prefer stories between 2,000 and 6,000 words, but longer or shorter stories may be accepted if they are particularly strong.
  • We are not accepting poetry or non-fiction at this time.
  • We will prioritise original, unpublished short stories, however we will gladly accept some reprints as donations towards the charity (ie. no payment given). Please feel free to ask us about this if you have a story you think might be suitable.
  • Make sure your story is edited and polished before you send it to us, and try to avoid any unusual formatting. No drop caps, rare fonts or tab indents please.
  • We prefer Australian/NZ English spelling and grammar.
  • Please, please, please use “double quotes” for speech NOT ‘single quotes’.
  • We will not be able to give in-depth feedback on any stories.

When will I hear back?

  • You will receive an acknowledgement email within a few days. If you have not heard from us within two weeks, feel free to follow up. Please don’t email to enquire further unless you wish to withdraw your submission.
  • Submissions will be open until the deadline, after which we will be in touch with everyone within two weeks.

We’re all really excited by this project and we look forwards to receiving your stories!

Tabatha Wood, editor