Submissions

Storm Cellar is a nationally distributed literary arts magazine rooted in the Midwest, appearing in print and ebook editions. 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.

submit

  • We are currently seeking images — up to 20 pages, any medium & style: upload here, or email a gallery link. [Previously.]
  • We’re listening for minority voices — especially people of color who have lived in the Midwest, although their work need not be about that experience.
  • We have been thinking about — global warming, C12H22O11 tattoos, Bey mermaid, Frankfurt’s type of bullshit, rupture vs. rapture, Justice Sotomayor’s tuff robes, “magical realism” vs. weird fiction, the boundaries of “Indian Country”, research poetry, Chicago public housing, Tangerine, Octavia Butler, deep time, giant burning heaps of cell phones in Guiyu, Michael Gira’s ideal sound, carving the Crazyhorse monument, LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs.

Subscribe … if you’re rad enough.

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FAQ / GUIDELINES:

PROCESS

Contact info?
Send correspondence to stormcellar { d o t } editor { a t } gmail. For unsolicited submissionsclick on this hand-crafted link to enjoy the online submission manager.

Subscriptions?
Through Submittable (requires account, accepts PayPal & cards): print &/or ebook (US)print &/or ebook (worldwide)ebook only. Single issues here.

I’m a physical artist/photographer?
Sweet, hook it up! Or email thumbnails. Pics of sculpture & performance are cool too.

What is this Midwest connection?
We’re from here. Given two pieces of equal worthiness, one connected (however tenuously) to the Midwest & one not, we’ll choose the one with the connection. Solicitations may be regionally biased. That’s it: we’re trying to be inclusive, not create a regional competitor to Southern Writing or Brooklyn Writing or whatever.

When is reading open?
Year-round. Occasional breaks from free subs due to volume.

How’s your response time?
12 weeks, often shorter. After three months, feel free to ask what’s up.

What are my chances?
In the last year, we’ve published (parts of) ~65 of ~2200 unsolicited submissions.

Do you pay?
Not yet. Contributors receive one print copy and a DRM-free ebook copy of the issue in which they are published, a discount on further copies, and big heart emojis forever.

Simultaneous submissions?
Please. But if you don’t notify us upon acceptance elsewhere we will put a voodoo hex on you. To withdraw part of a sub, e.g. one poem, flash, or image, add a note to your submission in the “Activity” tab.

What/how much can I send?
Submit no more than 4 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. Length/Girth:

  • nonfiction or fiction up to 5000 words
  • flashes up to 4000 words total
  • poems up to 400 lines / 15 pages total
  • images/graphics: up to 20 pp.; interior prints in grayscale on plain paper
  • hybrid works yes thanks, up to 15 pp. & include some kind of explanation

If your work is accepted, please wait six months past publication before submitting again.

Format?
Double-space prose. Begin each poem or flash on a new page. Cover letters are optional; keep them short and to the point; evidence that you’ve read an issue or at least browsed the archive is always appreciated.

About those bios…?
For contributor notes, we need an artist’s bio, 50 words max. We may edit it (usually for length). We generally omit prize nominations/runners-up/finalists. Say something about where you’re from/at.

Tell me about copyright?
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. We don’t use formal contracts, but rather make a “handshake agreement” regarding your work. Here is an informal statement:

  1. 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 allow use of excerpts or images for journalistic purposes, and regarding images to exclude rights over pre-existing re-publication agreements, and regarding writing to exclude agreements to publish as part of an omnibus of your work.
  2. 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 and profile header photos. We will do our best to embed attribution in image exif data and attribute written works visibly.
  3. Serial rights revert to the author immediately upon publication, or when 18 months have passed, whichever is soonest.
  4. We do not hold copyright for future anthologies or best-ofs from past issues, but we do consider ebook editions to be continuously “in print.” We reserve the right to sell all printed copies of an issue unless there has been an identifiable breach of contract.
  5. Contributors kindly will acknowledge Storm Cellar as first publisher in any subsequent republication. Contributors grant us permission to submit their accepted works to republication venues (such as Poetry Daily or Electric Literature) and to awards.

Privacy policy?
Yes: (a) we won’t sell or give your contact or personal info to advertisers nor the public; (b) we will, in general, keep private any medical or potentially sensitive info that happens to be revealed to us, but we do not regard email correspondence as confidential. In other words, jerks should be aware that we might post jerk emails with names on.

When will I see my work in print?
We try not to accept work more than 12 months ahead; most acceptances go in the next-published issue. Contributors’ copies go out usually within a couple weeks of press time.

What’s with the impersonal response?
We have a tiny, volunteer staff and many submissions. Please understand that we simply cannot respond to every submission with comment, let alone critique. Personal responses are accordingly rare.

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

Can I send something by mail?
Only if it’s bearer bonds.

Press?
Read reviews of SC 4.3SC 4.1, SC 3.1, which included a superpowers section, SC 2.2 w/interview of Publisher/Editrix Sidney T. Sheehan, and SC 2.1.

PRODUCT

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.

Reviews or translations?
We may publish your reviews of pretty much anything (and we mean anything) if we find them funny, or they have cultural merit on their own terms (see essays). We may print your translations of very short works. In either case, please email.

How about essays?
We like lyric(-al) and narrative(-ish) essays, and wilder forms too. (See e.g. “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.

What is creative nonfiction?
(1) What it says on the tin. Please craft your work. Please do not D’Agata your facts. (2) Narrative should have narrative coherence, but we have a thing for formal play, collage effects, lists, 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,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.

My work is experimental? It’s genre-bending?
It is? Cool beans! (When mixing fiction with non-, mention that in a cover letter.)

What do you mean by “flash”?
That is an excellent question, which you can help answer by submitting it to us.

Describe your ideal of fiction?
(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.

Genre fiction?
Yes to stories with genre or fantastic elements — that is, even more fantastic than “magic realism.” We’ve published a story with a dragon in it. But we are not interested in merely genre work, especially that in which plot subordinates other craft elements. When in doubt, consult Isaac Asimov’s “The Last Question.” Another example of non-mere genre is Jennifer Egan’s “Black Box.” (We agree that “literary” names a genre, but you know what we mean.)

What sort of poetry do you like?
(1) Read a past issue. (2) We want to see invention. We get tired of pocket-sized 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) We’re open to 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-affective “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.

Visual art? What kind?
What have you got? We have standards, but no filters. Please remember: the print magazine is half-letter size.

Are my rowdy styles a good fit for yours?
We don’t put a lot of stock in consistency for consistency’s sake. You can order back issues from us (downloads are cheap). You’ll find samples, and some things to avoid, in our archive.

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