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Saturday, July 18, 2020

Storm Cellar submission guidelines

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Storm Cellar is a nationally distributed literary arts magazine rooted in the Midwest, appearing in print and ebook editions. This is a journal of safety and danger. We want your prose, poems, chimeras, and ideas penned on envelopes in buses and train cars. The magazine aims to publish amazing work by new and established writers and artists, present a range of styles and approaches, and be as un-boring as it can. If you write one thing to be read while waiting for the all-clear to sound, send it here.


Translations: We may print translations of very short works; translators are responsible for obtaining reprint rights as well as English-language rights, as we want to print the original side-by-side with your translation.

Creative Nonfiction:

Reviews: We will read reviews of pretty much anything(s) — and we mean anything(s) — if they are funny, or are (secretly?) essays.
Essays: We like lyric(-al) and narrative(-ish) essays, and wilder forms too. (See “The ‘F-Word’” in Gulf Coast 25.1.) We don’t think essays must be “personal”; we’re not opposed to items like this. On the other hand, footnoted academic studies and lit crit are right out.
Experimental and genre-bending works: Cool beans! (When mixing fiction with non-, mention that in a cover letter.)

What is creative nonfiction?

(1) What it says on the tin: please craft your work; please do not D’Agata your facts. (2) Narrative wants story-coherence, but we have a thing for formal play, collage effects, lists, hermit crabs, and other nonlinear methods. (3) Eula Biss, Sarah Manguso, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Audrey Petty, Zadie Smith; Monica Berlin, Judith Butler, Edwidge Danticat, Stephanie Dickinson, Joan Didion, Roxane Gay, Stephen J. Gould, José Angel Araguz, B.J. Hollars, Pico Iyer, Ben Langston, Amy Leach, Michael Martone, Ander Monson, Daniel Nester, Susan Orlean, George Orwell, Natania Rosenfeld, Sheryl St. Germain, Nicole Walker, David Foster Wallace, Ludwig Wittgenstein.

Flash: We’d love to find out what this is when you submit it.


(1) Stories that matter, stories you would make time to read even if you didn’t write them, even if Game of Thrones is on, even if you’re in the truck on the way to the hospital to deliver your second baby. (2) Something unique, something weird (whatever that means); narratives that tap deep human experience, or absolutely refuse universalization. (3) A great idea demands great execution, exposition is not action, stories need plot, the reader can think for herself. We prefer you cut to the chase and sink our battleship with beautiful sentences. We write too, and want to die a little of jealousy over your short pants stories.

Yes to stories with genre or fantastic elements — that is, even more fantastic than “magic realism.” We’ve published fables and a story with a dragon in it. We are not interested in merely genre work. Think Isaac Asimov’s “The Last Question,” Jennifer Egan’s “Black Box,” N.K. Jemisin, and Kelly Link. (We agree that “literary” names a genre, but you know what we mean.)

(1) Read a past issue. (2) We want to see invention. We get tired of pocket-size epiphanies and diary entries. Send us what surprised you when you wrote it. Something larger than itself. We want you to save our lives and blow our minds and eat us alive and keep us up at night, except without clichés. (3) Any form; we care about prosody, but we think rhyme and meter are hard. Narrative, lyric, post-whatever, partyknife — it’s all good. (Even anti-affect “conceptual poetry.”) We lurv, e.g., Cummings, C.D. Wright, Tranströmer, Bishop, Claudia Rankine, D.A. Powell, Jericho Brown, Jane Hirschfield, and Rae Armantrout. Recently, Sawako Nakayasu, Lo Kwa Mei-en, and Saeed Jones have blasted our socks off.
Art and Images: What have you got? We have standards, but no filters. Please remember: the print magazine is half-letter size, and the interior prints in black and white.

Stylistic fit: We don’t put a lot of stock in consistency for consistency’s sake, yet we have developed some tendencies over the years. You can order back issues from us (downloads are cheap). You’ll find samples, and some things to avoid, in our archive.

Submittable Submission Form

Send art/photos/images/graphic narrative anytime — any medium & style: upload up to 20 pages here, or email a gallery link. [See what we’ve printed.]

We’re actively seeking under-represented voices — especially people of color with a Midwest connection. We’d like to hear from more authors who are indigenous, gender-nonconforming, living off-grid, disabled, lgbq+, neuroatypical, border-straddling, poor, of trans* experience, algorithms, or women writing beyond patriarchy. (We are not particularly interested in the performance of suffering.)

We have been thinking about — global warming, Antifa + Black Bloc slashfic, rupture vs. rapture, Frankfurt’s type of bulls–t, Unhhhh, “weird fiction,” the boundaries of “Indian Country,” research poetry, Chicago public housing, Tangerine, N.K. Jemisin, The Obscene Bird of Night, giant burning heaps of cell phones in Guiyu, Link Wray’s ideal sound, Deep Dream, gardening under late capitalism, Her Body and Other Parties.

Incarcerated authors may mail submissions to 1901 St. Anthony Ave. St. Paul MN 55104. Include SASE or postcard for response.


Contact: correspondence to stormcellar { d o t } editor { a t } gmail; unsolicited submissions to the online submission manager.

Subscriptions: via Submittable (accepts PayPal & cards): print &/or ebook (US). Single issues here. Subscribers may always submit for free by email (within the guidelines below).

Physical artists & photographers: Hook it up! Or email thumbs. Pics of sculpture & performance are cool too.

The Midwest connection: We’re from here. Given two pieces of equal worthiness, one connected (however tenuously) to the Midwest & one not, choose the one with the connection. The area includes at least Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and Winnipeg. We’re trying to be inclusive, not create a regional competitor to Southern Writing or Bed-Stuy Writing or whatever.

Submission size and number: Submit no more than four times per year, one submission at a time. Writing must be unpublished and not posted online; art may have been posted online by you, sold as prints, or covered journalistically, but not otherwise published/used commercially.

1 nonfiction or fiction up to 5000 words
4 flashes up to 1000 words each
5 poems up to 400 lines / 15 pages total
art/images/graphics: up to 20 pp.
hybrid works up to 15 pp.; pick a home genre & include some kind of explanation

Double-space prose.
Begin each poem or flash on a new page.
Cover letters are optional; keep them short and to the point, and include a bio of 50 words or fewer. We generally omit nomination/runner-up/finalist credits. Say something about where you’re from/at.
Evidence that you’ve read an issue or at least browsed the archive is always appreciated.
Contributors: please wait one year past publication before submitting again.

Further genre info below (mainly about what we think we want).

Simultaneous submissions: Yes, please. But if you don’t notify us upon acceptance elsewhere we will put a darck majyk hex on you. To withdraw part of a submission, add a note under the Activity tab within Submittable.

Fees: None for the first few hundred submissions each month, after which paid submissions are always open. Subscribers may always submit for free by emailing the editors, subject to the length guidelines above.

Reading period: Year-round. We will respond within 12 weeks, often more quickly. After three months, feel free to ask what’s up.

Payment: Big heart emojis forever, first of all! We now send a $10 honorarium to all contributors, beginning with issue 8.1, by PayPal/Venmo or money order.

We know it’s not much, but it is a token of our esteem and, we hope, something we can build on into the future. Flash contest winners receive their cash prizes by PayPal/Venmo or money order.

Copyright stuff: When an author or artist agrees to our offer of publication of a work, Storm Cellar thereby acquires worldwide first serial rights and limited, perpetual, nonexclusive, online rights. Submitters represent to us that they hold transferrable copyright for submitted works, and that those works meets our criteria above regarding previous publication status. We don’t use a formal contract, but rather make a “handshake agreement” regarding your work. Here are the terms:

Serial rights: until we publish your accepted work in our print and electronic editions, no one else may publish or republish it anywhere. We will publish both editions of each issue at the same time. We will construe this agreement to exclude, for works of art, rights over pre-existing re-publication agreements, and, for writing, to exclude agreements to publish as part of an omnibus of your work.
Online rights: we may include your accepted work in a message, or put it on our website as a freely readable/downloadable archive/feature/sample/promo/news-post/etc., whole or in part, now or in the future. We will construe this to allow use of images in such “messages” as social media avatars, profile header photos, or call-for-submissions posters. We will do our best to embed attribution in image exif data for art, and attribute written works visibly.
Serial rights revert to the author immediately upon publication, or when 18 months have passed, whichever is soonest.

We do not hold copyright for future anthologies/best-ofs, but we do consider ebook editions to be continuously “in print.”

Contributors kindly will acknowledge Storm Cellar as first publisher in all subsequent republication. Contributors grant us permission to send their accepted works to republication venues (such as Poetry Daily, Electric Literature, Best American …, etc.), and to awards (O. Henry, Pushcart, etc.).

Our privacy policy: (a) We won’t sell or give out your contact or personal information, in general. (b) But all communications are subject to publication. So don’t be a jerk.

Publication schedule: About every 5 months at the moment. We try not to accept work more than 12 months ahead; most acceptances go in the next-published issue.

“Constructive criticism”: We have a tiny, volunteer staff and many submissions. We simply will not respond to every submission with comment, let alone critique.

Do you tell everyone to submit again? Nope. If we tell you this, we mean it.

I don’t computer, can I mail stuff? Only if it’s bearer bonds.

Where have press/folks talked to/about you? Read reviews of SC 4.3, SC 4.1, SC 3.1 (superpowers), SC 2.2 (includes an interview), and SC 2.1. A Duotrope self-interview with the editors is here. The Managing Editor bluffed his way through “Six Questions For…” here. If you subscribe to the Sapling newsletter, we’re interviewed in #355. Another brief interview appears below the call here.