Submissions

Storm Cellar is a nationally distributed, independent 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 cure (not merely displace) boredom. If you write one thing to be read while waiting for the all-clear to sound, send it here.

  • 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, black and brown, gender-nonconforming, disabled, lgbtqia+, neuroatypical, fat, border-straddling, poor, and women writing beyond patriarchy. (We aren’t particularly interested in the performance of suffering.)
  • We have been thinking about — global warming, the appellation “Thee,” 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, Awkwafina, Gentefied, The Obscene Bird of Night, giant burning heaps of cell phones in Guiyu, Link Wray’s ideal sound, free-range children, Her Body and Other Parties.

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FAQ / GUIDELINES:

PROCESS

Contactcorrespondence to stormcellar { d o t } editor { a t } gmailunsolicited submissions to the online submission manager. Incarcerated authors only may mail submissions to 601 E. Washington St. #4, Greencastle, IN 46135. Single-spaced and/or double-sided is okay (use page numbers!). Include self-addressed envelope or postcard for reply, with or without postage. You may designate an outside person for email correspondence on your behalf—include email address; if so we will respond to that person only.

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, digital paintersHook it up! Or email thumbs/gallery links. 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, we choose the one with the connection. The area extends at least to 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. (Contest entries and fee-based categories excluded.) Contributors: please wait one year past publication before submitting again.

Corrections: For the love of god, don’t withdraw and re-submit in order to correct typos or make minor changes. Doing so takes opportunities for free submissions away from other authors; that annoys us. We will do copyediting after acceptance. Send only work you consider finished.

Writing must be unpublished and not posted online. Art may have been posted online by you, sold as prints/merch, or covered journalistically, but not otherwise published (such as in a book of your own or on someone else’s web magazine).

Length limits:

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

Format:

  • 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 short artist bio (≤50 words). 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.

Further genre info below in the “product” section (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, do so through the Note tab within the submission sub-page in Submittable.

Fees: None for the first two hundred submissions each month, after which paid submissions are always open. Subscribers may always submit for free by emailing the editors w/subject line “subscriber submission” & genre clearly marked & the submission as .docx, .pdf, or image file attachment.

Reading period: Rolling. 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, 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 (“you”/”contibutor”) agrees to our offer of publication of a work, Storm Cellar (“we”/”us”) 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 meet our criteria above regarding previous publication status. We don’t use a signed contract, but rather make a “handshake agreement” regarding your work; i.e. by agreeing to publication you agree to these terms. Here they are:

    1. Serial rights: Until we publish your accepted work in our print and electronic editions, no other periodical, blog, or similar venue may publish or republish it anywhere (“worldwide rights”). We will construe this agreement to exclude, for non-written works (art), rights over pre-existing re-publication agreements, and to exclude, for written works, agreements to publish as part of an omnibus of your work. We will publish both editions of each issue at the same time. Serial rights revert to the author immediately upon publication, or 18 months after acceptance, whichever comes sooner.
    2. Online rights: Ebook editions of issues are continuously “in print.” In addition, we may include your accepted work in a message, or put it on our website as a freely readable or downloadable archive, feature, sample, promotion, news-post, or other message, 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, social media post, profile headers, and call-for-submissions posters. You agree that our online rights are perpetual (have no end date). We will do our best to embed attribution in image exif data for art, and attribute written works visibly.
    3. Online rights are limited and non-exclusive: After we publish them, nothing in this agreement restricts what you may do with your work, including publishing it elsewhere online, as long as you don’t require us to stop using your work as in item 2 above (the enables us to offer back issues in our e-store and to host individual pieces on our website). Note: We do not hold copyright for future anthologies, best-ofs, and the like.
    4. Contributors kindly will acknowledge Storm Cellar as first publisher in all subsequent republications. 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: (1) We won’t sell or give out your contact or personal information, in general. But (2) all communications to us are subject to potential publication, i.e. you waive copyright of them. So don’t be a jerk (like this guy [pdf]).

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. But like, take a day or two, at least, before doing so.

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 4.3SC 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.

PRODUCT

Translations: We may print translations of very short works. Translators are responsible for obtaining both original-language reprint rights and English-language rights (consistent with the copyright agreement above under “process”). We want to print the original side-by-side with your translation. Do that before submitting, please.

Creative Nonfiction:

      • Reviews: We will consider reviews of pretty much anything(s) — and we mean anything(s), not just media — if they are either 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 nonstarters.
      • Experimental and genre-bending worksCool beans! When mixing fiction with non-, mention that in a cover letter.
      • What is creative nonfiction?
        (1) What it says on the tin: craft your work, and 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, Maggie Nelson, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Audrey Petty, Zadie Smith, for a start; Alison Bechdel, Monica Berlin, bell hooks, Judith Butler, Edwidge Danticat, Stephanie Dickinson, Joan Didion, Roxane Gay, Sarah Manguso, Samantha Irby, Stephen J. Gould, B.J. Hollars, Pico Iyer, José Angel Araguz, Jesica Carson Davis, Ben Langston, Sjohnna McCray, Sophia Terazawa, Jay Hansford C. Vest, Amy Leach, Michael Martone, Ander Monson, Daniel Nester, Susan Orlean, George Orwell, David Foster Wallace, Natania Rosenfeld, Sheryl St. Germain, Nicole Walker, Ludwig Wittgenstein.

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

Fiction:

      • (1) Stories that matter, stories you would make time to read even if you didn’t write them, even if Killing Eve 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 refuse universalization. (3) A great idea demands great execution, exposition is not action, stories want 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.
      • Go ahead w/stories with genre or speculative elements. We’ve published fables and a story with a dragon in it. We are not interested in merely genre work. Think N.K. Jemisin, Isaac Asimov’s “The Last Question” [pdf], Jennifer Egan’s “Black Box,” Helen Oyeyemi, and Kelly Link. (We agree that “literary” names a genre, but you know what we mean.)

Poetry:

      • (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, Saeed Jones, and Layli Longsoldier 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.