Barrelhouse: Now Accepting Submissions from Unpublished Writers

Written by Emily Harstone | May 30, 2018

Barrelhouse is a respected and prestigious literary journal that accepts very few of the submissions it receives. They are primarily a biannual print publication, but they also have an online edition that publishes different work as well.  They publish poetry, short fiction, non-fiction, and flash fiction. They like to publish well crafted writing with a sense of humor. They pay all their contributors 50 dollars, with work being eligible for additional prixe funds.

Unlike most literary journals they want to bridge the gap between serious art and mainstream pop culture. In fact the only non-fiction they publish is work that directly interacts with pop culture.

Stories originally published in Barrelhouse have been featured in the Best American Nonrequired Reading, Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy, and the Million Writer’s Award.

They pay $50 to each contributor to their print issues, as well as two contributor copies. Online contributors are not currently paid. Not only does Barrelhouse pay their writers, the editors have taken a vocal stand against charging writer’s submission fees, a growing trend that a lot of the more prestigious journals have embraced.

They only accept submissions through the submission manager Submittable. They tend to publish fiction and non-fiction shorter than 8,000 words in length, but they are occasionally publish work that is longer than that.

Poets can submit up to five poems at a time, all other writers must just submit one piece at a time. It takes them about three months to respond to most submissions.

For their 19th issue they are only considering work written by previously unpublished authors. They define unpublished very strictly and I included their explanation below:

What Does “Unpublished” Mean? 

We realize there is some gray area in the term “unpublished” and so for the purposes of this experiment, we are defining it as: an author who has never had a poem/story/essay/comic/book accepted by editors of a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 WattpadTypes 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

To learn more, or to submit, visit their website here.