Frequently asked questions

What is The Tunnels?

We are a hybrid publication that combines the very best of a literary magazine and an academic journal.

What is a literary magazine?

A collection of published works that focuses on creative writing that appears either in print or online. Most literary magazines are associated with either a university (as is The Tunnels) or with an independent press. Some journals focus only on poetry, fiction, or creative nonfiction, and some publish multiple genres. They launch anywhere from once to thirteen times a year, and you can read them by subscribing, finding them online, or finding print copies in your local bookstore. So, the short answer is a literary magazine publishes pieces of art written by a variety of people.

What is an academic journal?

An academic journal is a periodical that publishes academic scholarship on a given field or topic. Most appear in print (and are also available in digital form through your library's subscription), but some are available online. The academic section of The Tunnels is primarily concerned with scholarship that explores more contemporary texts or topics not traditionally written about. So, the short answer is that an academic journals publishes analyses of art written by different people. 

Why are you both?

We combined the two because the students who run this magazine write and read both creative and academic work. When we study English, we write stories and poems and essays, and we write essays about other people’s stories, poems, and essays (and films and video games and all other forms of storytelling). We consider these two parts of the same investigation into the ways that the English language creates meaning. 

How do I submit?

Complete submission guidelines are available here

How do I know when my work is ready to submit?

When getting an acceptance won’t make you feel like a better writer, and getting a rejection won’t make you feel like a worse writer. When you’re confident in your work and won’t feel discouraged, whatever response the editors give. When you’ve made the writing as strong as you can and have gotten help to make it even stronger. When the writing is error free. When it’s the best you can do right now, and you want us to see if it’s a good match for the issue we’re building. 

How will my work be read?

Submissions to The Tunnels are processed in a "double-blind" fashion, meaning that reviewers don't know the identity of authors and vice versa. Our Editor-in-Chief and managing editors remove all identifying information before forwarding the cover letter and the submission to the editors of each section. The only time section editors find out submitter names is if a submission is accepted. Also important to note: not everyone in the class will read your submission; each section—poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and academic nonfiction—has its own group of editors who work independently of the others. And because this is a class, our staff will change. The best way to keep up with current staff is to check out our staff page. 

How/When will my work be responded to?

The "when" is easy to answer: you will get a response no later than the end of the semester in which you submitted your piece.

The "how" is a little more complicated. After the members of the editorial staff for the section to which you have submitted have read and discussed your work, they will send you an e-mail with their decision: accept or accept with revisions, revise and resubmit, or reject. Each is explained below.

Accept or Accept with Revisions

Congratulations! The editors loved your piece and are ready to work to get it publication ready. At this point, anonymity will be dropped, (unless otherwise requested beforehand in your cover letter), and you will begin communicating with the editorial staff. You might get suggested revisions for your piece ranging from large structural changes to small edits. 


When the editors find a piece intriguing but have some reservations about publishing it as is, they might give you a "revise and resubmit," a response that boils down to “We liked a lot of the stuff here, but if we are going to publish it, we need you to do this first.” The staff may give you another deadline or ask that you resubmit next semester. You then have a decision to make.


If you disagree with the feedback or don't want to work on the submission any more, you can turn this decision into a rejection. We encourage you to write a brief email explaining your departure, but it isn't necessary.


If you agree that addressing the suggestions you received would make your piece stronger, revise the essay as soon as you can. When you resubmit, remind us that you revised the essay based on our recommendations. While revising and resubmitting doesn't guarantee acceptance, it is far more likely. 


The reality of the publishing world is that the most common response to submitting your work is having it rejected. It’s not a personal slight, and it really isn’t even a commentary on your skill as a writer. When you get a rejection from The Tunnels, it just means that the editors weren’t convinced it was right for them at this specific time.

There is no need to reply to a rejection letter, either graciously thanking us for giving you a shot, or trying to argue with our decision. The best thing to do is to just take this as an opportunity to think about the piece for a moment and then decide on new places to submit to until your work finds its home.

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