Thanks for submitting your work to Barrelhouse!

Before you proceed, a note about open and closed categories. If you don't see the category that fits your work, we're not open for that thing. We keep submission periods pretty short because we're hoping that helps make our response times shorter, as well. The best way to track submission periods is probably to follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook or check back later.

Here are some guidelines:

No previously published work.

Please submit only one piece at a time. Except for poetry. You can submit up to five poems. Everybody else — just one!

We pay $50 to each contributor to our print issues, as well as two contributor copies. 

So far, online contributors are paid primarily in karma. All contributors are also promised free beer, if we ever run into you in the flesh. If you don’t believe us about the free beer, ask around a little bit. We are frequently tipsy and imprudently generous.

We accept simultaneous submissions, on the understanding that you’ll tell us if you place the work elsewhere.

It will probably take us two to three months to get back to you. We try to do that faster, but there are few of us and many of you.

[PLEASE NOTE: adding this up top because we've had some confusion. We only consider 1 submission per author (up to 5 poems is cool, but multiple stories or subs in multiple genres is not), so please be sure you're only sending us the one sub you want us to consider] 

One of the things we’ve loved most about running Barrelhouse over the years is seeing  writers who started off small with journals like ours moving on to do much bigger things. We don’t like to think of it as “discovering” a writer, since those writers are basically knocking on the door and presenting themselves to us. But it is thrilling to encounter this new voice and this new talent, to play some small role in advancing their writing life. 

So in our 19th print issue, we are going to exclusively publish work by previously unpublished writers. This is a call for fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and comics by currently unpublished writers. 

What Does "Unpublished" Mean? 

We realize there is some gray area in the term “unpublished” and so for the purposes of this experiment, we are defining it as: an author who has never had a poem/story/essay/comic/book accepted by editors of a publication that has an independent review process, open submissions, and some readership beyond their own homes. 

Types of publications that we don’t view as disqualifying: 

  • Your undergraduate literary journal
  • Letters to the editor
  • A personal blog
  • A self-published book or Kindle single (and other formats in that category)
  • A self-published zine
  • Professional trade publications
  • Your tweets
  • The terrible things you’ve written on the bathroom wall at work
  • Yelp reviews
  • Fanfiction you’ve posted on sites like Wattpad

Types of publications we do view as disqualifying: 

  • Books that are not self-published
  • Publication in any print literary journal
  • Publication in online journals that have editors who are not you
  • Magazine and newspaper writing, including online magazine writing like Vox, Buzzfeed, etc. 

We are aware that these days the term “unpublished” could be parsed in many ways. This is the way we’re looking at it, and we will use our discretion in judging cases that fall into a gray area. If you’re not sure whether you’re eligible to submit, please email us at yobarrelhouse at gmail dot com. 

Pieces submitted by previously published authors will not be reviewed for this issue.

Please note: this is not an age-based restriction. Though we expect that a lot of current and recent students will submit, we realize there are talented people of all ages looking for a chance to break through the clutter. 

Please also note: we are eager to read submissions from a diverse array of voices, and especially traditionally marginalized groups. 

Payment and Mythic Picnic Prize:

Each contributor will receive the standard Barrelhouse payment of $50. Contributor fees for this issue are donated by our sponsor Mythic Picnic, and we thank them for their generous support for new writing and writers.

In addition, each selected piece will also be eligible for the Mythic Picnic Prize, a total pool of $500 that will be distributed and selected by Mythic Picnic.

Submissions in all categories will be open 5/29/18 -- 6/30/18

Some genre-specific guidelines (submit only 1 piece per person/do no submit in multiple genres at once): 

-  Poetry: Please submit no more than 5 poems combined into one document.

-  Fiction:  For a sense of our aesthetic, check out these interviews with our newest fiction editors & our new assistant fiction editors.

- Non-fiction: Barrelhouse is interested only in essays that deal, in one way or another, with pop culture, though pop culture here is defined in a fairly broad way. No specific length restrictions, though we tend to select pieces shorter than 10k words.  This blog post by our NF editor gives some further insight into the types of work we're looking for.

- Comics

  • Please send completed comics. No scripts or pitches.
  • We're looking for completed stand-alone pieces, so no on-going strips. If you have a continuous strip to pitch, send it as a blog submission and address it to both editors Sheila and Killian.
  • For initial submission, upload a .jpeg file that's 300 dpi. If it's accepted, we may ask for higher res. PDFs are also fine, but make sure you can send a .jpeg or .png if accepted. They will be printed in greyscale, so we prefer comics already in b&w.
  • Since these comics will be printed, they must be formatted to fit and read well within our parameters of 5x8" (We print at 6x9" with a 1" gutter). 
  • Page limit is 8 max.

- Cover Art: Original art, can be in full color. Make sure it's 6x9" and high res. Pop-culture references (even if they're tangentially related) are preferred--and please submit only one image!

Barrelhouse loves to celebrate books just like you do, so let's do that thing together! We're interested in running reviews of books that fit Our Whole Thing. You read Barrelhouse, so you know what we're about. Let that be your guide. And also, these:

Book Review Guidelines:

  • Reviews should focus on recent (last two years) small press titles--especially debuts.
  • Interested in full-length or chapbook-length collections of poetry & prose. Hybrid, graphic, multi-modal--sure! We'll give it a whirl.
  • 750 words or less. Seriously. Please don't send 900 words and think we'll edit that down. Nope. If you have an idea for something longer, ask first.
  • Include publisher, price, pg.#s and word count on the review.
  • Include a link to the publisher's website for purchase. We want to support small presses!
  • Include an image of the cover if possible.
  • No self-published titles, sorry.
  • Open to non-standard reviewing forms, as long as it doesn't distract from the book in question. Proceed with caution.
  • All accepted reviews are subject to editorial suggestions. Obviously.
  • We love you but we can't pay for your reviews at this time.
Note: if you are an author or a publisher who wants to put an ARC into our hands, query first for instructions about how to do that. 


 Join editors from Barrelhouse for a writer’s retreat in lovely Central Pennsylvania. This is a laid-back working vacation with plenty of time for writing. Each participant has the option of being paired with an editor who will review their work and provide detailed feedback and suggestions for improvement.   

The deadline for the application is Monday, July 9 @ 11:59 PM.  

The scholarship includes all meals and a bed in the bunkhouse. It does not include travel to State College, PA, though we can arrange for pick ups from the State College bus station or the Tyrone Amtrak station. Also, we do have a ride board and it's usually easy for folks from the DC-area to hitch with someone else who is attending. 

More info on Writer Camp is available here: