Submission Guidelines

Anthology: Nothing Without Us Too — Editors: Cait Gordon and Talia C. Johnson

What are we going to do now, Brain?”

“Same thing we did in 2019, Pinky. We’re going to put together an anthology!”

Earlier this year, rumour had it that a call for submissions window for Nothing Without Us Too would begin on September 30, 2021. We know this because we’re the ones who started the rumour. But as humans who understand what it’s like to manage spoons, we’re releasing this teaser of our submission guidelines, as a heads-up for writers who need time to ponder stories, manage their own spoons, and write. 

Super serious important note with extra emphasis: We are not reading or inviting submissions at this time! Submissions for Nothing Without Us Too will officially open on September 30, 2021 and close at 11:59pm EST on January 31, 2022. 

Not as urgently serious but still an important note: While we appreciated everyone whose stories were in Nothing Without Us, we are not accepting works from authors who were published in that anthologyThis will allow us to shine the spotlight on more authors. 

Who can submit 

We welcome writers across the disability, mental illness, developmental disabilities, neurodiversity, Blind, and d/Deaf spectrums. We welcome those who manage what are known as “invisible” and “visible” disabilities and/or chronic conditions. We welcome those who count spoons! 

The lived experiences of those who are disabled, d/Deaf, Blind, Spoonie, and/or of those who manage mental health are found across all demographics—such as race, culture, financial status, religion, gender, age, and/or sexual orientation. We want to read these stories because diversity is reality, and should be so, even in fantastical or other speculative fiction settings.  

Regarding publishing experience, we welcome established, emerging, and brand new authors! Don’t self-reject. If this is your first time submitting anywhere, that’s fantastic! Whoot! 

As we have been given a mandate for this anthology to have at least 75% Canadian content, these submissions will be given priority. We also welcome submissions from anywhere in the world!

Because we might be applying for grants for the production of Nothing Without Us Too, the Canadian organizations who issue these grants require that we reach a certain quota of what’s known as Canadian content. (This doesn’t mean the content of the stories has to be Canadian, because you might be writing about space wizards from another galaxy, but rather, it has to do with who we are publishing.) So, we will be asking our authors to identify as from Canada/Turtle Island or as International. We invite all of our Indigenous authors to state their citizenship in the way that feels most comfortable and accurate to them. Indigenous authors are also welcome to exempt themselves from the CND/TI and INT requirements—we just ask that you let us know if you are situated within Canadian borders, so we can keep track of what the Canadian granting organizations will acknowledge as part of our quota. (We really appreciate you letting us know, and we thank you in advance for this information.)*

* Many thanks to the folks at Augur magazine for allowing us to use the same/similar wording for this section. Btw, follow them. They are awesome folks.

What type of stories we are seeking 

For the Nothing Without Us Too anthology, we will be seeking short fiction between 500–3500 words, maximum. (We won’t accept stories longer than 3500 words, excluding the title.) 

All works must be fiction—genre fiction (romance, speculative fiction, science fiction, paranormal, mystery, fantasy, and so on) and realistic/literary fiction. We will not be reading submissions in the erotica genre.

The protagonist must be disabled, Blind, d/Deaf, neurodivergent (such as autistic, having ADHD), and/or they must manage mental illness and/or chronic illness. We will also be only interested in previously unpublished works. We won’t be accepting poetry for this anthology. 

What we are not seeking

Inspiration porn. There’s already enough of it out there. Examples include but are not limited to: The autistic person who overcomes their autism, presents as a quirky neurotypical, gets the girl, and lives happily ever after. The person who is in an accident, feels life is over, then overcomes it through work, a new love, and so on. These types of stories objectify the person and make their story all about their disability. We seek stories that show how we are people with complex and awesome lives. 

We also do not want stories about the fetishization of disabled people, a person being in a relationship out of pity for the disabled person, or a character who solely exists for the benefit of the person without a disability. Really, no inspiration porn. We won’t hesitate to reject these stories. 

We absolutely do not want protagonists who are not disabled and who spend the narrative observing a disabled, d/Deaf, Blind, Spoonie, neurodivergent, and/or mentally ill person. That goes against the purpose of this anthology. To quote our motto from last time, “We are the heroes, not the sidekicks.” 

We are not seeking in-depth POV stories from authors who do not have that lived experience. While we will not take part in gatekeeping identities, we will be asking in a cover letter why you believe this story is a fit for our anthology, and why you felt the need to write it.


We’ll announce Renaissance’s rate per word for these stories when the submission window officially opens in September!

How to submit

Please don’t, not yet. That’s the short answer. Here’s the longer one: Any stories we receive before then will not be read, and we don’t have the spoons to track entries before our submission window opens. We will receive and begin reading submissions in October 2021. We realize that excited brains might want to submit now, and it is often difficult to wait. Trust us, as co-editors, our brains cannot wait to find out what kind of stories we’ll receive! 

In the meantime, happy writing, or happy pondering about writing. Catch you in September!

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We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.

To learn more about this organization, please visit

ID: The logo for the Canada Council for the Arts. Their logo is a black graphic design of a tree with a wide elliptical perimeter around the base of the tree. Blue text reads: Canada Council for the Arts, Conseil des arts du Canada