Thank you for your interest in publishing with Ember: A Journal of Luminous Things.
Due to life events within our staff, we will not have a submission call for Spring 2023.
While this may be disappointing, we want to ensure Ember’s volunteer-led team has time and ability to respond to all current submissions at Ember before opening a new cycle.
To offset this news, we’re announcing a special summer submission call from June 1 to July 1.
Thanks for your understanding and we look forward to reading your writing this summer!
- Detailed Rights & Rates
Writers may submit up to 1 piece of prose and 3 pieces of poetry at a time. Each piece of writing must be submitted separately. If there are multiple poems in a submission, we will withdraw the piece.
Please ensure your writing is typed in a readable font for comprehension purposes. If a piece is handwritten and ineligible, we will withdraw the submission.
We are proud to offer feedback from our readers on all submitted pieces. If you do not wish to receive feedback, please click the “No Feedback” option when submitting your writing on Submittable.
Because we do offer feedback, our response rate is usually 5 months after submitting. Please do not email us requesting updates on the status of your submission until after that wait period.
We ask that writers refrain from re-submitting a revised version of their piece until 6 months after an initial decision is made on our part. This is to ensure that our feedback is digested and work is critically re-evaluated and revised, rather than hastily edited.
We do accept simultaneous submissions, however if your piece is accepted elsewhere, we ask that you withdraw your submission.
We do not accept previously published pieces. We consider writing published on blogs, social media, and/ or other literary magazines as previously published. If your writing is available or purchasable online, we will withdraw the submission. This is to ensure we use our readers’ time and author payments fairly.
We accept around 3% of all submissions received.
Ember is a journal of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction for all age groups; however, submissions for and by readers aged 10 to 18 are strongly encouraged. Please ensure you correctly state your age on the submission form so we can keep an accurate track of the submissions by young writers.
How to Submit
Submissions are managed through our Submission Manager, powered by Submittable . If you submit by e-mail, we will direct you to use our Submission Manager instead.
Important Note to teachers:
If you are thinking of submitting several pieces of work to us as part of a class project, or are instructing a group of students to do so individually, we would be grateful if you could check this first with our Editor-in-Chief, Brian Lewis: [email protected] and ask that your students include your name in their cover letter.
- Most forms are considered, both metered and unmetered, traditional and experimental. Poems from 3 to 100 lines have the best chance of acceptance. You may submit up to three poems at a time, but a separate submission form must be completed for each poem.
- Short Stories
- Short Stories up to 12,000 words will be considered. You must include the word count in your file. However, more important than word count is the quality of your work: we are looking for excellent, polished writing that pulls us into an engaging story. Please be aware that we do not publish chapters of larger pieces or picture books.
- Flash Fiction
- The ideal length for Flash Fiction submissions is about 500 to 750 words, but pieces up to 1500 words may be submitted in this category. Remember that Flash Fiction is not the same as “vignette;” even very short works should still present an interesting and compelling story.
- Creative Non-Fiction
- Creative Non-Fiction is the beautiful union of exposition and literature. Tell us a true story, and tell it well. Word count limits are the same as for Short Stories. Please be aware we do not publish essays.
Content Tips & Suggestions
- Profanity, Vulgarity, Sex, and Violence
- As an all-ages publication, our refusal to print profanity/vulgarity is based on an understanding of our audience, not on censorship. Similarly, while allusions to the occurrence of love and sex, anger and violence may be integral to some stories, we tend to err on the side of making Ember accessible to middle-grade readers. Submissions with graphic and/or explicit descriptions of sex or violence will be rejected without comment.
- Prose: Great Stories, Compelling Characters
- Ember is looking for great writing that tells a compelling story, regardless of length. Even very short pieces, like flash fiction, should tell a story, though there will certainly be fewer dramatic elements developed than we’d see in a longer piece or novel. The presence of “story” is what distinguishes flash fiction from “vignette.”
- Poetry: Paint With Language
- For poetry, we also look for a story, but the story may be implied. Of course, there is a lot more flexibility for poetry, and some styles tend to emphasize descriptive language over storytelling. We’ve also seen some poetry submissions which go too far, focusing so much on story that they are little more than prose stories with poem-style line breaks. So, for poetry, we tend to use the very subjective measure of accepting poems which make us say, “Wow!”
- Be Accessible, Not Condescending
- We believe that even our younger readers are smart and capable of advanced reasoning and interpretation. However, not every accepted piece will be appropriate for or of interest to ten-year-olds, who are the youngest readers in our target audience. Many readers will simply skip over stories and poems which exceed their developmental maturity. Submissions with the best chance of acceptance will be meaningful on some level to both older and younger readers without being condescending. We also consider works which require some maturity for full comprehension, so long as the content is not inappropriate for younger readers who might choose to explore the more advanced pieces.
Rights & Rates
We pay 2 cents per word or $20 per work, whichever is more, for worldwide first publication rights in English. You retain all other rights (including other languages, audio, and reprint rights), but we ask that you not reprint the work in another publication for six months after it first appears in Ember. See our Rights & Rates page for details.
121 thoughts on “Submission Guidelines”
Will you accept reprints of stories or poetry, or unpublished works only?
We prefer unpublished works, but you can query [email protected] with details to see if we can make an exception. Thanks for your interest!
Hi, I’m 12 and my school is writing flash fiction for an assignment. I love to write and I LOVE to write. I am very passionate and I was thinking of writing a flash fiction on how a guy gets struck by lightning, as long as I leave out blood is it okay? Or is it too inappropriate?
Ella, I think that there’s a lot of ways to write about serious events like lightning strikes in ways that are not overly gory. If you do end up writing this piece and you feel it creates a complete story that fits with other work we’ve published, you are welcome to submit it.
I just want to confirm if you’re still accepting submissions?
Hi! I was wondering if you’re still accepting submissions? Thank you!
Yes, we sure are! We’re planning to be an ongoing publication, so we will always be open to submissions.
You can help us stay open by letting people know about our launch and how they can show their support: https://emberjournal.org/support
I’m a retired teacher and emerging writer aged 10 +++++. Will you kick me out?
I have right now many evil embers in my short horror story. Will you let me in?
We need great writing and great reading material for everyone, so you’re absolutely invited to submit your work!
Have you a launch date yet? I had to find alternate Christmas presents for my young, literary neighbours 😦
We’re not sleeping until we print!
Hi. I submitted a piece back on August 17 of last year. It’s still showing ‘in progress’ on Submittable, but I wanted to make sure it didn’t somehow get lost in the slush pile. Thanks so much for your time. The story is called “Like Chocolate”.
With Submittable, it’s almost impossible to lose a submission, ever! We definitely still have your submission and are considering it.
Is there a specific genre (fantasy, horror, historical, etc.)?
There’s not—we happily consider all genres! That’s part of what makes the result so fun to read.
Will you take simultaneous submissions? Thanks!
Thanks! Just for my own obsessive curiosity, how long should I expect to wait to hear back from the editor once I submit?
Usually when we decline and have feedback, it’s a few weeks (most of the time, less than six). The more we like something, the longer we’ll keep discussing it. However, because we’re all volunteers, sometimes the response times vary and can get very, very long.
If you haven’t heard from us in a few months, we’re probably deciding whether we can work with you to edit the piece for perfection—and thinking about which collection it fits best in.
Hello! I submitted a story to Spark back before there was the Secondary Consideration statement in the submission manager. The story was rejected for Spark several months ago, but one of the readers commented that it might be a good fit for Ember. Would it be acceptable for me to now submit the same story to Ember, or should I work off the assumption that if the editor thought it would be a good fit for Ember, it would have been considered? I don’t want to submit something I shouldn’t, but I also don’t want to miss any opportunities. Thank you!
Hi, Jessica! When a staff reader suggests a piece might be a better fit in a different publication we own, I get a chance to look at it to decide if it would indeed fit somewhere else and is ready to be published there. Whenever we feel that a piece would fit better somewhere other than the publication it was submitted to, we contact the author and ask whether the change is okay.
If you submitted it and got feedback that it might be a better fit in Ember, I definitely looked at it. If it was declined, it might need a bit of revision and time before you try submitting again, but if you do incorporate any of the staff notes and feel that it’s ready to try a second time, you may submit to Ember instead. Some of our staff readers review submissions for multiple publications, and some focus just on one—like Ember—so you will at least get different insights on the second try.
Do you accept poetry that has been published on a personal website?
Generally not; we are looking for genuinely unpublished work to include in our collections. When we do make exceptions, it tends to be by invitation.
We’d love to consider something you’ve written that hasn’t been published, though!
I plan to enter two poems, can I enter a short story along with it?
While we ask that submitters limit their submissions to “one story or three poems,” if you occasionally submit a combination like you’ve described (one story and two poems) we won’t kick them out of the submission queue.
I have a question: what would be considered graphic violence? I’m planning to write a tragedy. For the short story, what would happen if the story was too long?
Hi Aprille! Apologies for the delayed response.
Our limit for story length is 12,000 words. If it’s slightly longer than that and you think it may be a good fit for us, it’s best to query with the editor before submitting. We don’t accept works which are graphically violent though, by which we mean writing which dwells on violent acts at the expense of focusing on character and developing a good storyline. Our readers range in age from ten up to adult, so keeping that in mind may help you determine what is and isn’t acceptable. I hope that helps anyway!
Hi! I’d like to know how long it takes for a submitted story to be reviewed and accepted or not. Will it be a while? So far, my story says “In progress”
Hi Maggie! Apologies for the delay in replying – response time is generally within a month, but may be longer if we’re holding a piece for consideration. Feel free to query via Submittable if it goes longer than a couple of months before you hear back from us.
Greetings, do you accept artwork? My daughter-in-law is an excellent illustrator and I feel she would be a wonderful fit for Ember.
All artwork is specially commissioned by the Editor for each issue.
What happens if we submitted more than one story? Will you accept the first and disregard any others. I apologize, I didn’t read the fine print.
What generally happens is, we decline/withdraw from our queue any works which go over the limit for submissions.We accept one story, and three poems (submitted separately) from any one submitter at any one time.
Hey!! I am 13 years young, and I just created a story called The Nagasaki Mission! My teachers said I could upload my story to this website and you guys would check it out? Thanks!!
Hi Evan, thanks! As long as you used Submittable to send us your work, we look forward to checking it out soon. There’s no facility for uploading work directly to the website though.
would you accept submissions on religious stories? I am thinking of writing one, a “religious book” about someone’s life
My apologies for the delayed reply – I have only just had notification of your question!
In answer to your query: Ember isn’t set up as a religious publication per se, but there are many other outlets for those kinds of works which a short browse online would soon show up. However, if the storyline is such that it transcends the religious elements, and it has good detailed character studies, a well-developed plotline and great descriptions (all the things we normally look out for) we’d certainly consider it!
Hello, I was wondering if you’re still accepting submissions?
Yes, we are on an ongoing submission schedule with rolling submission windows.
If we received feedback and make the suggested changes may we resubmit to Ember with the same peice? Thanks so much.
While we are happy to review a revised piece once, we do ask that you wait at least 30 days before resubmitting it.
Hi, do you accept flash fiction dealing with African-American issues, but it’s told for an audience of 8-10 ages?
While eight to ten barely hits the youngest end of our target audience, we accept flash fiction dealing with a broad spectrum of issues. If it makes a great story and is accessible to younger readers in both theme and content, we are interested in reading and considering it.
Do you allow stories with religious themes for children?
Hi Olivia, we’re not looking for overtly religious stories. Our emphasis is on good, strong storylines, convincing characters, and excellent descriptions which will draw in the reader.
When are your publication dates? If I subscribe, when would I receive copies? Thanks!
Hi Sarah, our publication dates vary, although I can tell you that we have a Spring issue and a Fall issue. As a subscriber, however, you would receive a copy as soon as it becomes available!
Does Ember accept visual poetry?
No, we aren’t looking for visual poetry right now.
Do you accept short stories which are about a special occasion like Christmas even though they are submitted in Summer or a different season?
Yes, most definitely, Fatima! We don’t restrict our submissions to any particular season or occasion.
Hi, if I’ve already submitted a piece to Spark (and I’m still waiting for a response), can I still submit a different piece to Ember? Thanks!
If it’s a different piece, then yes. You probably saw already when submitting that a piece submitted to Spark may be automatically considered for Ember if it’s a better fit, but we don’t mind when you submit a different work to Ember while one is being considered for Spark or Zetetic.
I have two questions: First, it says “but we ask that you not reprint the work in another publication for six months after it first appears in Ember.” so can I publish it on something like amazon after six month?
and the second question is can I use a pen name?
Yes, after six months you could certainly reprint the story as a self-published piece on Amazon—and you are quite welcome to use a pen name.
I have two questions:
1. I submitted a story a few months ago that was declined. I was told I could correct the things I was told were problem elements, and then wait 30 days before resubmitting, which I did. However, two days after I resubmitted, I received a rejection with no comments on why my story was declined, and I would like to know why this is.
2. Can I include illustrations a friend of mine did in a story I want to submit?
Thanks for your questions!
I do understand that it’s never easy to get a “Decline” email. Sometimes, however, you have to just accept them and move on. However, if you have any further specific questions on your submission, it would be best to send these directly to the editor ([email protected]) as we can’t really look into personal issues here on the website.
In answer to your second question: it’s fine to include illustrations if you wish, but they’re unlikely to be considered as part of the submission and so it’s not something we encourage. All illustrations
are commissioned directly by the editor so that they’ll work as part of a themed issue. If you look over some of Ember’s back issues, you’ll get a good impression of how important this is to achieve an overall ‘look’ for each specific volume. So we don’t wish to discourage your friend at all, but they would perhaps receive a more suitable and productive response to their artwork elsewhere.
Thanks for the shout out – very interesting website, well worth a look!
How many we purchase back issues?
Hi Sue, if you click on the ‘BUY’ tab at the top of the page here (right next to the Home tab), it will direct you to a page where you can purchase as many copies of Ember as you wish!
Hi there, do you edit and publish work, or only publish already edited work?
Hi Joey, we liaise closely with the author and work together on any edits which may be needed. So what we ask is for work to be submitted in a clear, clean, manuscript format (preferably double-spaced, and in a readable 10 or 12 point font) which has already been proofread for errors. After that, if selected by our readers, any final edits on the piece will be approved by both the Editor and the author.
Can you credit multiple people? Like one person is the author and another edited, revised, and provided feedback.
We haven’t done that before, since all the final editing and feedback is done by us. But if the piece was originally written as a collaborative venture, then I don’t see why it wouldn’t be possible.
Why, in submittable, my story submission appears as in progress while my poem as received, I submitted my poetry after the prose.
Pay no attention to the editors behind the curtain! The way submissions move through our queue is magic and mysterious, and cannot be known by mere mortals!
Okay, for the real “peek inside the internals of Ember and Submittable” answer:
In general, poetry and prose queues at Ember move separately, depending on who is available to read submitted manuscripts. However, one interesting thing about Submittable is that any activity causes the status to change to In Progress. When we screen incoming prose, we add labels indicating the approximate word count. This makes the status immediately change to In Progress, even though it has not actually been assigned for review.
Alright. thank you so much.
Are you still accepting fiction short story entries? There is no option for them on your Submittable, nor is there a link to anything other than Poetry and Prose here.
“Prose” covers all narrative work—fiction and creative nonfiction alike. So, yes, we’re still accepting fiction short stories, and they should be submitted under the Prose category.
You do raise a good point, though, about us assuming that all our submitters know the terminology. We’ll add some explanatory text to make sure it’s more clear to everyone that Prose means “stories.”
Yes, thank you, I was able to find it!
Hello! I’m 12 and want to enter a haiku I wrote will you accept haikus?
You are welcome to submit haiku, but we have never accepted a poem that short … yet! Perhaps yours will be the first.
Can I submit a story if I already have an active poetry submission?
Hi, I am age 10 and I want to submit a short story. Are chapters acceptable?
Emily, we’re looking for stories that stand on their own, so if it’s a chapter that can be read independently of a novel it belongs to, we’d love to see it! If the chapter really needs the rest of the book in order to know the characters or to see the resolution, it probably isn’t a good fit for us.
I don’t get it..
We can’t have CHAPTERS??
I’m ten, and although I LOVE realistic fiction novels, I prefer fantastical stories. Can the short stories have a small trace of fantasy in them? And can they have certain (teensy) elements found in other stories, like a school for magic from Harry Potter? Also, does there have to be an actual beginning, middle, and end? Can you end with a cliffhanger? (Sorry for asking so many questions, I just need to plan things out before actually WRITING,) Can there be physical conflict, like martial arts, leaving out the blood, though.
Hmm , I was just wondering…
Do you compare the stories in age categories?
Because I’m ten years old and it would be unfair if i was going against a college student.
Thanks! Please reply! :))
Hi! I’m a screenwriter who is writing a serialized novella as an exercise toward refining the eventual sci-fi feature film’s story. Would Ember consider publishing something like this on a chapter-by-chapter basis? Chapter One contains about 900 words. Thanks.
I wrote a piece and just finished it. My friend who is in a writing club with me couldn’t complete her story by the deadline, so she helped me edit, it that ok to submit? I changed all of the mistakes, she just told me what errors I made.
Are you all still accepting submissions? I have a story that’s been pending for quite some time. I’ve queried twice since our last communication, but haven’t received a response, so I was uncertain.
I need to inform you that my short fiction piece, “Dream of a Bear” has been accepted elsewhere for publication.
Emily P. Murphey
That’s great news! Please be sure to withdraw the submission through Submittable so we don’t forget that this piece is no longer available.
I was just wondering when if I submit, and get excepted, do I get a free copy of the magazine?