If you’re an undergraduate or just a writer early in your career, you know the pain of trying to find the correct journal for your work. What will be a good fit? What kind of research do you need to do to even answer this question? What journal--among the hundreds and hundreds that exist--will give your work a fair read?
What follows are five journals that are solid sites that unpublished or starting writers of all works and genres can feel safe to submit to, including links to their sites, descriptions of their submission requirements, and a short primer as to what kind of work they typically like. From undergraduate journals to journals with a little more pedigree, all of these sites have zero submission fees and acquire only first serial rights (meaning that they are the first to publish your work, but afterwards the rights to the work return to the writer). All of these sites also accept simultaneous submissions, meaning that you can submit the same work to multiple places--so long as you rescind your submission to other sites once it gets accepted at one. Be sure to read their specific submission guidelines carefully, as the small cheat-sheets below are not conclusive submission guidelines for each publication. And please note that all of these sites accept only unpublished work.
#1: Blacklist Journal (https://blacklistjournal.com)
Previously run under the name Where the Children Play, Blacklist is an undergraduate journal run out of Brandeis University. Publishing twice a year, Blacklist accepts work in a variety of genres from undergraduate and graduate students around the globe. If you want a taste of what kind of work this journal enjoys, their previous issues are available for free under their “Issues” page.
Types of Work: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Visual Art
Genres: Any; from their about page, “Blacklist seeks and publishes work that can captivate a reader or viewer—work that resounds and permeates.”
Length: Poetry: no more than five pieces; Fiction and Nonfiction six pages double-spaced or approximately 1,800 words; Visual Art: any medium appropriate for print.
Where to Submit: Blacklist has their own submission form on their site: https://blacklistjournal.com/submissionsform/
#2: The Blue Route (https://widenerblueroute.org/)
Widener University’s journal accepts short fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction from undergraduate students around the globe.
Types of Work: Short fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction
Genres: Their preferred work does not include speculative writing-fantasy, sci-fi, horror, and other “genre” work has to “[rise] above the conventions associated with those types of writing.”
Length: Short fiction and creative nonfiction: 1-3 pieces totaling 3,000 words or less; poetry up to three poems
Where to Submit: The Blue Route accepts work through email at email@example.com. See their submissions page for precise details.
If you are confident in the ability of your writing to stand up to the very best, here are three non-undergraduate journals that will give your work the fair shot it deserves:
#3: Radar (https://www.radarpoetry.com)
Radar is an online poetry journal edited by Rachel Marie Patterson and Dara-Lyn Shrager. Published four times a year since 2014, all twenty-one issues of Radar are available online for free. This journal describes itself as having “eclectic” tastes and is open to all writers. What makes Radar incredible is that, during their open reading period of October 1 through June 30, they respond to all submissions within 30 days, “and often much sooner.” If you are a woman and interested in a contest submission, Radar spends July, August, and September reading for the Coniston Prize, “an annual award that recognizes an exceptional group of poems by a woman writing in English,” with an award of $1,000 for the winner and publication for all finalists.
Types of Work: Poetry
Genres: Any; read a few previous issues to get a good grasp of their aesthetic
Length: 3-5 poems
Where to Submit: Radar has a Submittable page: https://radarpoetry.submittable.com/submit
#4: The Arcanist (https://thearcanist.io/)
The Arcanist is an online publication for genre-based flash fiction and essays. Specifically, anything in the science fiction, fantasy, or horror genres is right up The Arcanist’s alley. Around for over a year now, this site publishes a new piece of flash fiction every Friday. If you want, you can subscribe to their reading list and have these weekly stories delivered right to your inbox. The Arcanist has recently opened up to an open call for paid (!!!) essays. For flash fiction writers, good news: if accepted, you’ll be paid too--and submissions, no matter what medium, are free.
A worthy note for this journal is that, for nonfiction essays, their submissions manager allows submitting up to three pitches, rather than being open to full pieces. So you’ll know even before putting the work into writing your essay itself that The Arcanist is interested.
Types of Work: Flash Fiction and Nonfiction Essay
Genres: Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror (or any other type of “speculative” fiction).
Length: 1,000 words or less for flash fiction; 1,000-3,000 words for essays
Where to Submit: The Arcanist uses a Google form for their submissions--here is the link to their two calls for submissions: https://thearcanist.io/submit-your-work/home
**This article previously included the journal Rattle. However, after further research post-publication resulted in some less than exemplary publishing standards re: diversity, the author of this article has chosen to take down the paragraph and wishes to communicate their distrust of the site's current policies & reactions to critique.