There are lots of ways to become a writer. Popular methods include: sitting alone in your local coffee shop, staring at the empty pages of your Moleskine as you sip espresso; pressing your ear firmly against the door of a classroom in which Tobias Wolff is running a fiction workshop; wandering the streets of Paris in search of yourself; and standing outside Gordon Lish’s bedroom window on rainy nights, your tear-streaked face illuminated briefly and tragically by flashes of lightning, until Mr. Lish finally agrees to work with you on your short stories.
While these are all fine methods, we don’t think becoming a writer should be so difficult. Our approach to writing does not require you to learn basic French, nor will it potentially result in pneumonia or arrest—simply follow our submission guidelines and send us your finest work.
WHAT WE ARE LOOKING FOR
We’re interested in weird, experimental writing that contains absurd and irreverent humor, meta-fictional elements, and works that subvert/push the boundaries of typical fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. Make us laugh until we cry, until our faces turn various shades of purple, until whatever we’re drinking comes out our noses.
Submissions containing erotica, implications of sexual assault, or information regarding flirty singles in our area will be promptly deleted.
Submissions that do not comply to our guidelines will not be read.
We accept work in six categories, which are listed below. PLEASE ONLY SUBMIT TO ONE CATEGORY AT A TIME.
FICTION: We accept fiction up to 2,500 words. Send no more than two short stories.
POETRY: Please submit up to three poems. We have no set length, but if T. S. Eliot were to send us “The Waste Land,” we’d probably reject it, just to give you an idea.
NONFICTION: We accept creative nonfiction up to 2,500 words. Send no more than two pieces.
FLASH: This is where you send your pieces of less than 600 words (no more than three pieces, please). Please indicate whether your flash is fiction or nonfiction. If it’s something else entirely, please see the next category.
BETWEEN THE COUCH CUSHIONS: Many things can be found between couch cushions. Old pencils. Stale Cheetos. Rare 1926-S buffalo nickels. We do not want your old pencils and stale Cheetos, but we are interested in your buffalo nickels (we are poor college students and need the money). We’re interested in writing that can’t be found anywhere else, that doesn’t quite fit the confines of traditional genres or forms. We’re talking about lists, dialogues, crossword puzzles. Send us anything, but please keep it under 2,500 words.
THINGS WE WROTE WHEN WE HAD ACNE: When you were a young, pubescent writer, you no doubt wrote a story or poem of such staggering genius that you immediately sent it to the Paris Review, certain that an editor would pluck it from slush pile and catapult you into literary greatness. If the Paris Review did not snatch up your writing, we will gladly take it. We want you to send us the best of your worst middle school and high school creative writing. We’re looking for The Wicker Man of poetry, The Room of short fiction. Scour your old Tumblr and high school journals and send us your most cringe-worthy work. But please, no more than 2,000 words. We’re asking for bad writing, after all. Accompany each submission with the age and school grade during which it was written.
OTHER THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN SUBMITTING
We read submissions year-round and publish on a quarterly basis.
Simultaneous submissions are fine, but we ask that you let us know immediately if your piece has been accepted elsewhere.
We do not accept previously published material. (This does not necessarily apply to things submitted to Things We Wrote When We Had Acne. If, for example, you would like to submit an angsty poem that also appears on your old LiveJournal, we are perfectly okay with that.)
Submissions should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org with a subject line stating your last name, the genre of your piece, and the word “Submission” (ex: Smith Fiction Submission). We accept the following file types: .rtf, doc, and .docx. Please do NOT send PDFs. In the body of the email, please include a brief cover letter. Do not send us your clever third-person bio just yet. Should your piece be accepted for publication, we’ll ask for one then.
All work should be in a 12 point-typeface in a standard font (Times New Roman, Calibri, Cambria, Arial). Include a word count on the first page.
We ask for first North American serial rights only. Copyright reverts to the author upon publication.
If you are accepted for publication, please understand that we reserve the right to make minor edits to your piece (punctuation, small matters of word choice, etc). Larger revisions will be requested.
We will try to get back to you within twelve weeks. If you don’t hear from us by then, we hope that you’ll be patient with us. We are college students who average three hours of sleep a night. We’re doing the best we can.
Also, the fact that we’re college students should probably give you an idea of how we pay contributors. That is to say, of course, we don’t. Contributors will, however, receive our sincerest gratitude and hearty endorsement via our Twitter page. ✷