Recommended Reading is Accepting Previously Unpublished Fiction
Beginning today, November 1, our weekly fiction magazine is opening the first category for fall submissions: previously published stories
Electric Lit relies on contributions from our readers to help make literature more exciting, relevant, and inclusive. Please support our work by becoming a member today, or making a one-time donation here.
Recommended Reading is the weekly fiction magazine of Electric Literature, and 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.
Currently, for the first two weeks of 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 In December, we’ll open general submissions to unpublished stories.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 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. However, if the story was published in the last three years but is no longer available anywhere online (e.g., through an outlet that no longer exists), we will make an exception. The reason for these criteria 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.
- If you have changed the story in any way, that’s fine. In fact, maybe the reason for the change is something to include in your cover letter.
- 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.
December 1st to December 15th: General Call for Original Fiction
Submit your never-before-published stories, in the range of 2,000 to 10,000 words, as mentioned above.
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 will be open November 1 through our submittable page.