Call for Submissions: Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 6

Call for Submissions

Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 6
Edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel
To be published by Cleis Press in December 2020


Rachel Kramer Bussel is looking for original, unpublished 2,000-5,000 word erotic stories fitting the theme of adventure for Cleis Press anthology Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 6. Authors whose stories are accepted for publication will receive $225 and two copies of the print edition of the book on publication. Please note the following important information regarding this call for submissions: If these guidelines are too long for you to read, do not submit to this anthology. Some information may be repeated in order to emphasize it. They are intended to save time for the authors, editor and publisher and provide useful information to increase your chances of acceptance. If you have any questions, check that they aren’t answered below before emailing. You must follow the guidelines in full in order for your story to be considered. Authors whose work has appeared in previous volumes of the Best Women’s Erotica of the Year series are ineligible to submit to this anthology.

This anthology is ONLY open to authors who are women, gender nonconforming, genderqueer and/or nonbinary. If you do not fall into one of these categories, do not submit to this anthology. The contract terms listed below are non-negotiable and include a one year exclusivity clause from the December 2020 publication date. If you would not be willing to sign these contract terms should your story be selected, do not submit to this anthology. Submissions outside the word count or received after the June 1, 2019 deadline will be rejected.

Early submissions are strongly preferred and will be considered on a rolling basis, but I highly recommend not rushing in order to submit early, which is unlikely to work in your favor. I would rather read a brilliant, attention-grabbing grammatically perfect story on June 1, 2019 than a hastily written, typo-filled story on an earlier date.

While I will respond as soon as possible to all submissions, authors may have to wait for a final response until July 1, 2020 (yes, 2020). If you cannot wait to hear back about your story until then, do not submit to this anthology. If you have not heard back by July 2, 2020, feel free to inquire about the status. Unless specifically requested of the author via email, I will only accept ONE submission of each story; DO NOT send multiple versions of your story or expect to submit a rewritten version during the editing process. Submit ONLY your best, polished, fully proofread work that you would want to be published with the story title and author name you include. In the interest of publishing as many authors as possible in the series, those who have been published in the first five volumes of Best Women’s Erotica of the Year series are not eligible to submit to this anthology. Guidelines may be updated over the course of the open submission period. The call for submissions section of will always contain the most up-to-date version of these guidelines. For occasional BWE submission tips, follow @BWEoftheyear on Twitter and bestwomenserotica on Instagram.


The theme of adventure will pertain to all stories in the book in different ways. I don’t want to tell you what “adventure” means. I want your characters to show me what adventure means to them. I want stories that represent a wide variety of adventures for a wide variety of characters. This means that unless they’re particularly noteworthy, the final collection will likely not repeat adventures. The more unique, creative and memorable your plot and characters are, the more likely your story is to be accepted.

The theme of this anthology is “Adventure” and all published stories will touch on this theme (most without explicitly using the word “adventure” in the story). I strongly encourage you to take that theme and run with it, keeping in mind that what’s “adventurous” to one character will be humdrum to another. The final book will feature a variety of characters exploring their own personal versions of adventure. While stories of sexual adventure and excess are welcome, I’m also looking for stories that surprise the reader regarding the idea of adventure. Perhaps the adventure isn’t revealed until the story’s end, or the form the adventure takes is unexpected. Stories that don’t connect to the theme of adventure in some way will be rejected.


All submissions that fit the guidelines and theme will be considered, but I’m especially interested in the following types of stories, and have noted excellent examples of these types from prior volumes of the series where applicable:

Ownvoices stories. For stories featuring characters from marginalized groups, ownvoices stories are strongly preferred. If your story is an ownvoices story and you’d like me to know, please mention it in your cover letter in the body of your email and note how your story is an ownvoices story, which will be kept confidential unless the author gives permission to share it after publication. Ownvoices means that the story’s protagonist and its author share a marginalized identity; you can learn more about ownvoices here. (See “Body Shots” by Thien-Kim Lam in Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 3)

Stories written by authors of color

Stories set in and illuminating a particular culture or subculture (see “On the Calendar” by Kate Sebastian in Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 2)

Stories starring and from the point of view of transgender women as well as gender non-conforming, genderqueer and nonbinary characters

Stories starring and from the point of view of characters with physical disabilities (see “Wordless Surrender” by Janelle Reston in Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 2 and “Falling” by Charlie Powell in Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 3)

Stories starring and from the point of view of characters with mental health issues (see “Her Invisible Prison” by Jocelyn Dex in Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 4)

Stories starring and from the point of view of characters in their 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, etc. (see “Words with Benefits” by Tamara Lush in Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 4)

Stories starring and from the point of view of queer characters where coming out isn’t a major plot point

Stories about characters who have unusual or interesting fetishes (see “Infused Leather” by Dr. J. in Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 3)

Stories that touch on social justice issues, feminism and/or body image while remaining erotic and arousing for the reader

Stories featuring humor while also being totally sexy (see “Starstruck” by Lazuli Jones in Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 1)


Protagonists in the book will range from single to partnered, of varying sexual orientations, races, adult ages (all characters must be at least 18 years old for the entirety of the story), religions, occupations, fetishes, jobs, interests, locations and life experiences. First, second and third person narratives are all welcome.

Stories in the final book will range from humorous and playful to intense and soulful to down and dirty, and will reflect a similar sexual, racial and age diversity as the stories in Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volumes 1, 2, 3 and 4. Story submissions must be unpublished (never published, in whole or in part, anywhere, online or offline). Stories including scat or incest will not be considered; age play will be considered as long as it’s clear in the context of the story that the characters are engaging in roleplay. No poetry will be considered.

In a nutshell: I want stories that blow my mind, that grab my attention from the first line and don’t let go, that say something new and exciting about sex and sexuality, that will appeal to longtime erotica readers and new readers of the genre. Make every word count. As you edit your story before submitting it, I encourage you to make sure each sentence serves a purpose and is advancing the story you’re telling. I also strongly recommend having a beta reader read your story before submitting to help catch any typos or grammar or continuity errors.

I want stories that will make readers stop everything they’re doing and eagerly read every last word to find out what happens to your characters. I gravitate toward unique, creative, memorable characters, settings and scenarios. I welcome science fiction, fantasy, paranormal and historical stories, although contemporary stories will comprise the majority of the book. If you submitted a story to Volume 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 that was rejected, you may resubmit it, but a new story stands a far better chance of acceptance.

To see the types of stories I gravitate toward, I recommend reading or listening to any of the first four volumes in the Best Women’s Erotica of the Year series. As in prior volumes, I want your best, boldest, hottest, most creative and diverse stories. Each story must be between 2,000-5,000 words. All stories must have a clear beginning, middle and end, with engaging characters and scenarios. Stories featuring highly creative plotlines, compelling characters, engaging dialogues and vivid settings have the best chances of being accepted.

In the interest of publishing the largest number of authors possible, writers whose work appears in or will appear in Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5 edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel will NOT be considered for this volume, but contributors to previous Best Women’s Erotica collections by prior editors are welcome to submit work.


Submit only 2,000-5,000 original, unpublished stories that are not being considered elsewhere. Word count applies to the text of your story, excluding story title, author name and author bio. Maximum two submissions per author. Stories CANNOT be under consideration elsewhere at any point prior to the book’s publication date in December 2020. I want only original work that has never been published, in whole or in part, online, in print or in any format at all, including personal or other types of blogs. All characters must be 18 or over for the entirety of the story. U.S. grammar (spelling, double quotation marks around dialogue, etc.) required.

Submit to with “BWE6 Submission: Story Title” in the subject line (substitute your story’s title for “Story Title”) by attaching a Word .doc or .docx file titled “BWE6 Story Title LastName,” using Times New Roman Black font. LastName should be the last name you’d want to be published under. So if Dorothy Smith is submitting a story titled “The Bed” as Jane Doe, her Word file would be titled BWE6 The Bed Doe and her subject line would be BWE6 Submission: The Bed. Each story needs to have its own file; you can submit two story files in one email, or send them separately. If submitting two stories, use this format: BWE6 StoryTitle1 and StoryTitle2 LastName. Example: BWE6 The Bed and Sexytime Doe.

At the top of the first page, include your legal name, pseudonym (if applicable), mailing address, phone (only to be used for urgent communication about your story) AND a 50 word-or-under third person professional biography to be published in the book. Make sure you use an email address that you check at least once a week. If you include a URL in your bio, it should be included in the first sentence in this format, without hyperlinking or other special formatting:

Rachel Kramer Bussel ( writes fiction and non-fiction.

All stories must have a title and byline (author name) included with the submission (no untitled or unbylined stories) at the top of the first page. Indent half an inch at the start of each paragraph. Use double spacing for the entire file; DO NOT add extra lines between paragraphs or use any other irregular spacing. If you cannot use Word, submit as both an RTF AND include the full submission in the body of an email, including title, story text, bio, name and pseudonym (if applicable), mailing address and phone number. DO NOT SUBMIT MULTIPLE VERSIONS OF THE SAME STORY AS ONLY THE FIRST VERSION WILL BE CONSIDERED. SUBMIT YOUR STORY WITH THE TITLE, AUTHOR NAME AND WORDING YOU WOULD WANT PUBLISHED IF THE STORY IS ACCEPTED. MAKE SURE TO THOROUGHLY PROOFREAD YOUR STORY BEFORE SUBMITTING IT. Your submission should be a thoroughly proofread, typo free document that you want to see published using the byline and biography you’ve provided.

I will confirm that I have received your submission within one week. I will respond with an acceptance or rejection to all submissions by July 1, 2020, at the latest. If you have not heard back from me by July 2, 2020, feel free to follow up at that time. Please note the time frame and if you need a response sooner than July 1, 2020, do not submit a story to this anthology.


Rights: For this anthology, the editor is buying exclusive rights in all formats for one year from the book’s publication date in December 2020. After that year, the rights revert back to you. The non-negotiable contract terms all authors in the book will sign are below. If these terms aren’t ones you’d be comfortable signing, do not submit to this anthology.

Payment: $225 and 2 copies of the book within 90 days of publication. Payment will be made only via Paypal (strongly preferred and the only method of payment for non-U.S. authors) or U.S check (only for U.S. addresses).

Deadline: June 1, 2019, 11:59 pm EST. In order to facilitate a smooth publishing process, submissions will be considered on a rolling basis and earlier submissions will get priority. ALL submissions received by June 1, 2019 will be considered, but if two excellent, topical, brilliant stories are submitted featuring the exact same scenario, the one submitted earlier is more likely to be accepted. Again, please do not sacrifice creativity, grammar or proofreading in the interest of submitting early, as that will not benefit you. I’m prioritizing earlier submissions because my deadlines have been moved up, so I need to complete my manuscript sooner than in previous years, and working with submissions on a rolling basis will assist me in that task.


For questions that aren’t answered in the guidelines: Email (note that NO word count changes will be granted; stories under 2,000 words or over 5,000 words will be automatically rejected).

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