Ends in 5 days, 12 hours

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So in our 19th print issue, we are going to exclusively publish work by previously unpublished writers. This is a call for fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and comics by currently unpublished writers. 

What Does "Unpublished" Mean? 

We realize there is some gray area in the term “unpublished” and so for the purposes of this experiment, we are defining it as: an author who has never had a poem/story/essay/comic/book accepted by editors of a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We are aware that these days the term “unpublished” could be parsed in many ways.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!



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