Strange Horizons is on the hunt for new volunteer first readers to join our fiction team.
Our first readers read some of the incoming fiction submissions and decide whether to pass them along to the fiction editors. We are therefore looking for people who like what Strange Horizons publishes.
We highly encourage Black first readers to apply. We especially welcome readers from outside the US and UK. We also welcome queer, disabled, and neurodiverse readers.
- Read a portion of the submitted stories each week and write a brief summary and comment for each, including characteristics we may be looking for.
- Pass good and interesting stories along to editors.
- Send rejection notes for stories you decide not to take.
- Ability to work well with others in an online setting.
- Discretion; for example, we’ll ask that you not blog about the details of your job, though it’s fine for you to publicly say that you have the job.
- Reliability: the fiction department depends on first readers. We prefer a reader who reads a small number of stories week after week to a reader who reads a large number randomly.
You will need to read, summarize, and comment on at least ten stories a week. In our experience this equates to around five hours per week of reading, plus up to three hours per week of writing summaries, comments, and rejections. Expect the job to take at least five hours a week; don’t expect to be able to squeeze it in during occasional spare moments.
Commitment to stay on for at least six months after an initial one-month trial period.
How to apply
If you’re interested, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the following subject line: FR CANDIDATE: your name here (with “your name here” replaced by your actual name, of course).
Any of a multitude of salutations within the body of the email are fine, but please don’t address your application to just one fiction editor; all of them will be reading your application (generally “Dear Editors,” is a good choice).
In the email, introduce yourself, tell us about your relevant experience (if any), let us know a little about why you’d like to join us, and list three to five authors whose short stories (not novels) you particularly like (with emphasis on authors who write speculative fiction). You don’t have to have previous first-reading experience or be a writer—we want to hear from anyone interested in the position.
Then provide a list of three to five of your favorite stories that SH has published. For each story, provide a brief comment, roughly twenty to fifty words, about what you liked about it. Tell us what you really think rather than what you think we want to hear; the main point of this exercise is to help us (and you) decide whether your tastes are likely to match ours, in which case there will be some more screening to make sure we work well together.
We’ve had the good fortune of working with many talented and hardworking first readers over the magazine’s history, and we look forward to adding to their numbers.