Opportunities: September 2019

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

Image Credit: 
Public Domain

It is September and you have made it through summer more or less in one piece. Now as the evenings draw in, the kids go back to school and our coastline once again echoes with the sound of gulls rather than happy tourists, you may find yourself with a little more spare time. Why not use the opportunity and take a moment for you: grab a coffee, curl up in your favourite chair, and get creative. After all, with so many exciting opportunities out there, what have you got to lose?

If you are not sure where to begin, or are nervous about sending your work into the unknown, then the perfect place to start is right here. Thanet Writers are open for submissions of short stories and poetry, as well as essays and book reviews. There is no charge for submissions and—to make it even more tempting—you will be paid £10 for any piece that is accepted. If you are thinking that you have just the thing, but it has already been in print, then do not worry as previously published material is accepted too. The only criterion is that the writer has a link to Thanet. So go and have a rummage through those dusty saved files to see what you can find. To submit, click here.

Finding the courage to send work off is always difficult. We are all scared of those dreaded rejection emails, but there is no shame in them; every single published writer will have experienced the ‘thanks but no thanks email’ at one point. Do not allow them to put you off because every so often you will find the right home for your piece and get an acceptance which will make it all worthwhile and put a smile on your face for weeks. So let me give you a head-start on finding those opportunities so that you can concentrate on your writing.

Short Stories

Everybody likes a good story, one that you can sink into and lose yourself for a few moments, and for that reason short stories are the backbone of many magazines. These are a great place to look for publishing opportunities, but the competition to be featured is high so make sure that you keep trying and maintain a record of which pieces you have sent where. Many publications will be open for submissions throughout the year but some will only accept so many per month or at certain times. It is as important to check these details, as it is to make sure that your story is suitable for the magazine that you are sending it to. Always read a few of the previously featured stories to assure that the market readership is the one that you are aiming for.

Waxwing Magazine is a well-established publication known for diversity and stories with the ability to mesh different cultural identities into one place. If this sounds like you then they request that you only send one story, novella, or novel chapter at a time, and say that each piece should also read as a stand-alone. Flash fiction under 1,000 words is also welcomed and you can include three of these in one document. Work is to be double-spaced and each page numbered. There is no charge for submitting work. As it is only published tri-annually in February, June, and October, they limit their calls for submissions to reflect this, capping their target at 300 per month during reading periods across all genres. Submissions are currently open through Submittable, so make sure that you get in quickly to avoid missing out.

Magazines are not the only places that accept short stories there are plenty of alternative options open to you. Many short story competitions run throughout the year, from those which offer large cash prizes and publication to smaller local competitions where your story will be published online.

Hammond House is a not-for-profit company which was established to “bridge the gap between self-publishing and traditional publishing, providing new writers with the help and support they need to establish a successful career.” Each year they work in partnership with the University Centre Grimsby to run a series of competitions, including a well-regarded short story competition which has built year on year. The last one had entries from 25 different countries, which isn’t surprising considering that they offer worldwide publication for the winners and 25 shortlisted finalists. There is also a monetary prize of £500 for first place, £100 for second place, and £50 for third place. Entries should be between 2,000 to 5,000 words, presented in Arial 12pt with 1.5 line spacing, and not previously published. Please note that there is a £10 fee payable on entry. The 2019 competition is open until the 20th September, with the theme this year set as ‘Leaving.’ This can be interpreted in any way that you wish so get those imaginations working.


If your inspiration is meandering down the route of poetry rather than fiction, then fear not, there are plenty of opportunities open to you too.

Coffin Bell is a quarterly online journal which has an open call for submissions on poetry. With Halloween just (sort of) around the corner, what better time is there to turn your mind to the darker side of life? Coffin Bell want you to scare them with your deepest nightmares and are looking for poems of any length that will drag them into the depths of disquiet. The website is very clear on the subjects that it does not accept and those that it prefers, so make sure that you have a read of the guidelines before submitting. They request that you send a short third person bio with the cover letter so that they can “be nosy.” Although there is no mention of payment, this does look like a fun opportunity which will allow you to let your imagination run wild.

If horror is not your genre of choice and you would prefer to submit to something a little less funereal, then why not have a look at the Voices Poetry Competition? This is an inspiring idea where your entry fee is a voluntary donation of whatever amount you like towards Maggie’s Centre in Nottingham, an organisation which supports people, and their loved ones, who are living with cancer. Any theme of poetry is acceptable, as long as it is previously unpublished, but they do request that the aim of the competition is to bring a community together and that the entries reflect this. The deadline is 30th September with the winners being announced in November. Selected poems will be published online in the Voices Blog, and book tokens to the sum of £100 will be awarded to the winner, with £50 in tokens for the runners-up. By entering this competition you will be making a difference even if you are not shortlisted.

If you have been perfecting your poetry for some time, then the world-famous The Journal are running the Charles B Wheeler Poetry Prize. Submissions are open via Submittable throughout September and must be at least 48 typed pages of original poetry. Your manuscript as a collection must be previously unpublished, however some or all of poems may have been published before (however these must be identified in an acknowledgements page). All identifying details—including your name—should be on a separate cover page, as this competition will be judged anonymously. There is a $23 entry fee but entrants get a one-year subscription to The Journal. The winner gets the book published by Ohio State University Press and receives $2,500 prize money.


The market for non-fiction is just as broad, so for those looking to submit I’ve found these two very different gems.

Canadian magazine Brick Literary Journal is open for submissions until the end of October and particularly interested in essays, reviews, interviews, and journals, and want you to be creative. Just because an article is non-fiction does not mean that it has to lose its sense of humour. Submissions can either be sent in by post or online, though they have strict guidelines on what they require so ensure that you read them.

For female writers only, Motherly Stories is a website that features first-person true stories between 700 and 900 words reflecting on insights that you have gained from motherhood. Their aim is to “help women know that they are not alone and never judge” and state they wish to inspire. Stories can be submitted online, and they will pay, though not straight away. The first two accepted submissions are unpaid, and then from the third onwards a payment of $50 per work accepted is available. This is an interesting opportunity to share experiences and empower other women, and to which you can keep submitting.


Remaining in the genre of non-fiction, I found this life-altering opportunity for young writers under 35 years old.

The Financial Times and McKinsey & Company are running the Bracken Bower Prize competition. They aim to “encourage young authors to tackle emerging business themes” and hope the competition will help find the experts of tomorrow. The prize is £15,000 to enable the winner to further their research and write a complete book.

In order to enter you will need to make sure you will still be under the age of 35 on 30th November 2019. As long as that is the case, you need to submit an essay of no more than 5,000 words summarising your subject, scope, and style of the finished product. You will need to include a biography displaying your qualifications for writing on your chosen topic. Closing date is the 30th September 2019, and the winner will be announced at the Business Book of the Year Award dinner in New York in December.

Good luck with your writing, whichever form it may take, and remember that if you would like to have some honest feedback or just some support in your endeavours there are many writers’ groups that meet throughout Thanet. They are all very friendly, so why not pick one, pop in, and say hello.

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

Join the Discussion

Please ensure all comments abide by the Thanet Writers Comments Policy

Add a Comment