Welcome to Electric Literature's submissions hub!
We have a number of categories, including Essays and Recommended Reading. Please scroll down for information and guidelines on the category you are interested in.
Electric Literature intermittently accepts submissions of personal and critical essays, as well as humor, that reflect on the world of reading, writing, literature, and storytelling in all its forms. We’re particularly interested in pieces that examine the intersection of the literary world and other creative disciplines: film, fine art, music, video games, architecture–you name it.
Some of our favorite recent personal essays include pieces about The Exorcistand a father’s descent into alcoholism; reading and writing as a participant in an art installation; an exploration of a writer’s shifting identities as she moves between Jamaica and the U.S.
Critical & craft essays may cover a variety of topics: the history of our obsession with a novel’s first sentence; the spatial poetics of Nintendo; what women can learn from reading sexist male writers.
Payment for essays & humor pieces is $50. Length is up to you; most essays we publish fall between 1500–5000 words.
Submissions for essays will be open from October 17 to November 4.
Submissions to Recommended Reading are closed. Read below for information about the next openings.
Recommended Reading, a magazine by Electric Literature, publishes one story a week, each chosen by today’s best authors and editors. With over 88,000 subscribers in just four years, it’s the fastest growing literary magazine around. Every week the magazine publishes one story, each chosen by today’s best authors and editors. Usually, we open submissions for one month, two times a year. But for our fall submissions period, we’re changing things up a little. We will have two separate windows to submit, from November 1st to the 15th and from December 1st to December 15th.
For the two weeks in November, we’re asking writers to submit only stories that have been previously published elsewhere to be considered for a second life in Recommended Reading. In December, we’ll open general submissions to unpublished stories.
Why the special attention to previously published work? There are so many reasons to give further recognition to great stories. Indie journals are where some of the most exciting and experimental fiction happens, but unfortunately the circulation numbers aren't always as big as the literature within. There are other reasons to: maybe the website that launched you went under, or maybe you weren’t paid, or maybe your issue simply didn’t get the promotion it deserved. Whatever the case, you were published, but there are still many more people who should read your story.
Below are details on payment, rights, and submission inspiration for both categories. These are two distinct submission categories, but you may only submit to one of the two for our fall submission period.
November 1st to the 15th: Previously Published Stories
Unlike our regular submissions period, the cover letter here is important. We want to know about your short story’s original publication, and why it deserves a second life in Recommended Reading. If accepted, we may use this information (with your permission) in our introduction, alongside the story’s publication. As always, we’re looking for stories between 2,000 and 10,000 words that are bold, affecting, and presented with a distinct style. We will pay $100, as we do for all second serial story publications.
- If the story was published online between January 1, 2014 and now, it is not eligible for consideration; i.e., if it was published online, the publication date must have been three or more years ago. The reason for this is that we don’t want to create redundant online content; we want the original incarnation of your story to have fully lived out its life on the internet before we give it a new one.
- If the story was published in print in 2016, it is not eligible for consideration; i.e., it must have been published in print before January 2016.
- Keep in mind that if the story appeared in print and online, it is still subject to the online publication parameters.
- It is vital that the rights to the story have been reverted back to the author and are not retained by the previous publication so that we can feature it in Recommended Reading. Check your contract. If you don’t have one, or if you can’t find it, follow these guidelines: most journals revert rights back to the author after a short period, often around 90 days. So if your work was published in a journal or magazine, it’s likely that the rights have reverted back to you. Anthologies work similarly. However, if your story was published in a collection, it’s likely that the publisher still holds the rights.
For any submission:
The best way to get a sense of the kind of stories we’re looking for is to read the Recommended Reading archives, especially the stories recommended by Electric Literature, in which we showcase original fiction. We can only consider one story by an author at any given time.
Recommended Reading launched in May 2012 and has since published 230 issues, including original work by Sheila Heti, A. Igoni Barrett, A.M. Homes, Helen DeWitt, Jim Shepard, Ben Marcus, Etgar Keret, Cesear Aria, Ottessa Moshfegh, Kelly Link, and Mary Gaitskill. We also pride ourselves in championing new voices, and have been early supporters of writers such as Helen Phillips, Sharma Shields, Rebecca Schiff, Diane Cook, and Matt Sumell.
Recommended Reading is digital-only, available for free online and in ePub, and for $1.99 per issue on Kindle. Issues of Recommended Reading are also published on this site.
Submissions to Okey-Panky are here: https://okeypanky.submittable.com/