Opportunities: October 2019

A curated roundup for October 2019 of submission opportunities for short stories, poetry, and non-fiction writing.

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Can you believe that it is October already? Not that I am complaining, this is my favourite time of the year. I love the lull that autumn brings; we are caught between recovering from long lazy evenings in the sun and preparing for the pandemonium of the festivities that are fast approaching. With golden leaves, the faint smell of bonfires in the distance, and hot soup for lunch, I find that this is the time that I am most inspired to write. So let me blather no more and tell you of the opportunities that I have found for this month’s Roundup.

As always, my first point of call is Thanet Writers. Not only can you drop in on a critique and support group for writers on a Thursday evening where you can get honest and invaluable feedback on your work, but you can also submit writing for publication and, if it is accepted, you will be paid for it. Thanet Writers are open for submissions of short stories, poetry, essays, and book reviews. There is no charge for submissions and, to make it even more tempting, you will receive £10 for any piece that is accepted. If you have any sort of link to Thanet, then get submitting.

Short Stories

It would be remiss of me to write an October roundup without at least one spooky opportunity, so I will start with a short story competition by Dark Tales, who publish horror and speculative fiction and are open for submissions for their ongoing competition. The shortlisted works for each month form the next edition of Dark Tales. There is a 5,000-word limit and a £4 entry fee, however you can win £100 plus publication both online and in print. All published entrants will receive the issue of Dark Tales that their story is featured in. You retain copyright of your work and they are happy for you to publish elsewhere providing that you acknowledge previous publication in Dark Tales. The current deadline for submissions is 30th November.

The next fiction opportunity caught my eye because it is fun. The First Line Literary Journal is open to submissions for their winter edition. They are looking for short stories, with a guideline of between 300-5000 words, the twist being that all stories must start with the first line of a previously published piece that featured between Volume 16, Issue 1 to Volume 20, Issue 4. There are plenty to choose from; for a full list click on Winter 2019 on their webpage. Manuscripts should be sent in either MS Word or Word Perfect format via email, and they pay $25-$50 (US dollars) upon publication and you will receive an electronic version of the issue. The deadline for the winter copy is 1st November.


There are so many open calls for submission for poetry this month that I would advise you to have a good look around to find one that suits your style. However, here are two different types of opportunity to give you a head start.

The Blue Nib is a quarterly print magazine that dedicates itself to “discovering the very best new voices in fiction, nonfiction and poetry.” They are now open for submissions for Issue 40 and are looking for between 3 and 5 poems per submission. They must be entirely your own work and preferably under 40 lines long. Work should be uploaded as one PDF or Word document, with your titles in bold and page breaks between poems. They will also request a good quality head and shoulder photograph and a short bio. Details of their exact requirements are listed on their submissions page. Make sure that you check these carefully, because they vary on the type of work that you are sending in. There is payment for poems that are published but the exact amount varies, and you will also get a complimentary website membership for the quarter that your work appears in. The deadline for the current reading period is 30th November.

The next opportunity comes in the form of a competition and is a big one. The National Poetry Competition was established in 1978 and is one of the world’s most respected contests in the field. Previous winners include Carol Ann Duffy and Colette Bryce. There a large prize fund—£5,000 for first place, £2,000 for second, and £1,000 for third, plus seven commendation awards of £200—and the top three winning poems will be published in a winners’ anthology, as well as in The Poetry Review, which is one of the world’s leading poetry magazines. Judging is done anonymously, therefore your name must not appear on the poem itself. All poems must be your own work, previously unpublished, not more than 40 lines long and have a title. There is an entry fee of £7 for your first poem and £4 for additional ones, and you can enter online. Members of the Poetry Society may enter a second poem free of charge. The deadline is 31st October. As poetry competitions go, this is right up the top in terms of reward and kudos.


There are plenty of surprising places that accept submissions of non-fiction, ranging from hobby publications, women’s magazines, and even supermarket food guides. If you have a topic that interests you, then write about it. Some places will ask for you to send in a pitch first so that they can decide if it would be of benefit to their publication, but some will ask that you submit your work as it is.

Narratively has an open call for submissions for non-fiction pieces that fulfil their ethos of being original and untold human stories. They are looking for different pieces that have not been repeated in alternate ways time and time again, things that are a bit edgy and will intrigue the reader. They have a list of things that they do not want, so make sure that you read this first, but they cover a very wide range of topics which makes them an excellent place to start. They accept submissions through Submittable and do pay for the pieces that they publish, although the amount will vary depending on the article.


If you are searching for that one opportunity that will give your writing career a boost and get your name known, then Granta is world-renowned. It just so happens that they have a call for submissions open between 13th October and 13th November for fiction and poetry.

Established in 1889, Granta has featured writers such as A A Milne and Sylvia Plath. In their own words: “Granta does not have a political or literary manifesto, but it does have a belief in the power and urgency of the story and its supreme ability to describe, illuminate and make real.”

They are requesting one complete story or up to three poems that are previously unpublished and give a guideline for the fiction pieces of 3000-6000 words, however this is flexible. Submissions are through Submittable and there is a $3/$4 fee, depending on what you are submitting.

Why not give it a go? You could have written something that will give you the credibility to open many other opportunities in the future, and having your name in Granta as a byline will certainly do that.

Good luck!

Having always been an avid reader, Zoe now writes fiction and poetry to relax and escape into her own reality for a while.

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