Our Process

Before reading our submission guidelines, a short note on our process is in order. Are you sick of submitting your work and having it fall into the black hole that is the editor’s inbox? The editors of The Quill Magazine have been through the submit -> wait a year -> lose hope -> resubmit -> repeat process too many times. At The Quill, we’re dedicated to providing an unbiased critique intended to help our submitters grow into better writers; our system was custom built to provide feedback through every stage of the submission process. You will be notified of every change your submission goes through as it passes through our system. No more wondering if someone has seen your work, what they thought of it, and if it’s been accepted or rejected; the system sends out an email each and every time your submission changes status and if it’s rejected we send out a short critique as to why. We want to work with people to improve their work, a rejection is not a sign of total failure and we welcome you to resubmit any rejected works after editing. We are in the business of helping budding authors grow into successful authors.

Submission Guidelines

We only accept submissions from new authors. We are not looking for submissions from established writers with a long publishing record; our goal as an organisation is to inspire and engage with new writers looking for a market. Some submission guidelines every submission must follow:

  • Word count must not exceed 20,000 words. Our submission form will reject any submission over 20,000 words out-of-hand, there is no exception to this rule.
  • If you have a completed serial we will consider running it if each section is under 20,000 words. Please only submit the first part of the serial and quote “Serial” in the submission title.
  • Preference is given to stories with fewer than 10,000 words. This is due to the nature of online readers, no one is going to stick around and read your 20,000-word piece of experimental fiction; short and sweet is the secret to gaining and keeping an online audience.
  • We accept simultaneous submissions, but request that you log in and withdraw the submission from your account if it is accepted elsewhere.
  • No blood, sex, violence, gore, or drug use that doesn’t directly drive the story.
    • What does this mean? It means you we will reject any of the following:
      • Fetish porn.
      • Fan-fiction.
      • Gore porn.
      • Horror without a story.
      • If you’re unsure about whether your piece breaks this rule, email us at editors@thequillmagazine.org and ask.
  • We accept works in the following formats: poetry, prose, and creative non-fiction. We are open to submissions in all genres, but submissions should follow the rules listed under the “Stories, Poems, and Creative Non-Fiction Accepted at The Quill” section below.
  • We read every story (within limits, if you’ve never read and/or don’t understand the Elements of Style we will politely recommend that you do) submitted and provide a short critique whether or not your story is accepted.

General Information

We are a volunteer run, non-profit organisation registered in Alberta, Canada operating under the name “The Quill Magazine Publishing Limited.” We were committed to keeping this site ad and subscription free, but due to 90-days without any financial support, we have decided to place some ads on the site. Currently, 100% of our budget is donated by our two lead editors: Josh Harkema and Colleen Cornez. This is a project of love and our attempt to give back to the worldwide community of writers. With this in mind, here is our pay table:

Submission Length Payment
500-5000  $15.00
5001-14999  $30.00
15000-20000  $45.00
Line of Poetry  $0.50

We are committed to bringing the Quill’s pay scale in line with industry standards; with your help, I’m sure we can accomplish this goal. If you would like to help the Quill in our mission please donate at https://www.patreon.com/user?u=4758932We reserve 90-day worldwide exclusive publication rights for every work we accept and publish. After this 90-day period has passed, you are free to submit your work to other publications.

Stories, Poems, and Creative Non-Fiction Accepted at The Quill

The following suggestions are not fully enforced rules, each piece submitted is evaluated on its own merit. These suggestions are of a general nature and do not constitute the entirety of consideration taken into account when we evaluate a work.

  1. We prefer character driven stories: stories centred around internal conflicts within the main character or conflicts between characters.
  2. Short stories should skip as much exposition as possible. Start late and finish early – reveal the story with action rather than exposition. In other words, show, don’t tell.
  3. Please follow the rules set forth by the last 2,000 years of storytelling. Although some stories that defy convention are successful, for a work to be enjoyed by a large audience it must follow the basic rules of storytelling (generally speaking, there are exceptions to every rule.)
  4. Do not hide information from the reader if the narrator is aware of said information. Having a POV character keep a “secret” from himself is infuriating. This rule does not apply to unreliable narrators, if the narrator is aware of the information, but for some reason chooses to ignore it, that is a different issue.
  5. We will – with almost 100% certainty – reject any story that relies on a “twist” ending. For example, the POV character wakes up and reveals the whole story was a dream, the character was “crazy” the whole time, etc. These types of stories rarely work – M. Night Shyamalan pulled it off once, Orson Scott Card managed to use it in Ender’s Game – and are insulting to a reader’s intelligence when done poorly.
  6. For poetry: we look for poems with concrete images and abhor poems centred around abstract concepts (love, time, death, etc.) A poem should provide something a reader can hold on to and 99% of the time an elegy about lost love is boring, pedantic, and juvenile.
  7. If the plot and/or primary conflict of your story is not readily apparent in the first 500 or so words (less for stories in the 1,000 – 3,000-word range) we will reject your story. Why? Two reasons:
    • Storytellers are asking a reader to make a commitment: a reader is committing to a certain allotment of time when deciding to read a story and readers expect a prompt return on this investment. In short fiction, a reader will give a story about 500 words before demanding a return. It is of the utmost importance that a story provides this return before a reader simply moves on to another, more interesting story.
    • It is a sign of sloppy storytelling when an author relies on exposition over action. If you can’t tell your story as it happens, you probably don’t have a compelling story to tell.

These are the “fast and dirty” guidelines we follow at the Quill. We will add to and remove from them as time goes on and we become more familiar with the community engaging with this site. We look forward to reading your work!

Important Note: As of this time 03/28/2017 the Quill is not reviewing any poetry. The sheer volume we’ve received amounts to a near limitless supply. We will accept poetry, but it will go into our “hold” file and could take quite some time before it is reviewed. 

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