One thing I get asked a lot at conferences and via e-mail is how to write for WD—What’s the best way to break in?
Aside from pitching a traditional feature article—and if you’re interested in doing so, check out our submission guidelines here, which I’m in the process of updating this week—there are five more ways to land your writing in WD. I’ll list them below, and follow them up with a regular Promptly prompt. Happy Wednesday.
What it Is: WD’s versatile front-of-the-book.
What to Pitch: Short pieces of 400-600 words (how-to, trends, humor, insight on news that will still be relevant when our next issue hits newsstands, weird and intriguing tidbits about the writing world). Each InkWell also features an 800-word lead story that kicks off the magazine. The article ranges in style and tone every issue, but often takes the form of an opinion piece or essay, weaving a narrative and drawing out tips for our readers based on an experience. It can be a great place to discuss more theoretical or timely concepts.
How to Pitch: For the overall InkWell section, traditional queries are fine, but on-spec submissions can be the best strategy to break in—especially for humor pieces and short-form content. Submit electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org with “InkWell” in the subject line. (Pays.)
2. REJECT A HIT
What it Is: Our back page—a humorous fake rejection letter of 300 words or fewer, spoof-rejecting a classic or beloved work.
What to Submit: As the recurring intro to the page goes, “Let’s step once again into the role of the unconvinced, perhaps even curmudgeonly or fool-hearted editor: What harsh rejection letters might the authors of some or our favorite hit books have had to endure?” The tricky part of Reject a Hit is finding a book our audience will instantly recognize (recent issues have featured Frankenstein, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, A Christmas Carol), and cleverly rejecting the book in a way that pokes fun at a short-sighted or somewhat absurd editor—not the author and content of the book.
How to Submit: Electronically, on spec, to email@example.com, with “Reject a Hit” in the subject line. (Pays.)
For More Info: Click here.
3. 5-MINUTE MEMOIR: TALES FROM THE WRITING LIFE
What it Is: Secretly my favorite section of the magazine, 5-Minute Memoir is our new venue for 600-word essay reflections on the writing life.
What to Submit: While 5-Minute Memoir is a diverse spot in which we want a writer’s individual style and voice to come through, the essays we love the most are those with a strong narrative element, relaying an experience and its subsequent wisdoms and takeaways for writers.
How to Submit: Electronically, on spec, to firstname.lastname@example.org, with “5-Minute Memoir” in the subject line. (Pays.)
For More Info: Click here.
4. THE YOUR STORY CONTEST
What it Is: A simple—and free—flash fiction contest that runs in every issue of WD. We publish a prompt in the magazine, and then publish in a subsequent issue the best story (or, in some cases, story openers, etc.) as selected by our staff and forum members.
What to Submit: Unless otherwise noted in the prompt, fiction only.
How to Submit: After finding the prompt in our magazine or on our website, write a short story of 750 words or fewer based on the prompt and send it to email@example.com. (If it’s an installment of Your Story: First Things First, submit only an opening sentence to a short story.) And as we say in the magazine, you can be funny, poignant, witty, etc.; it is, after all, your story.
5. THE POETIC ASIDES WD POETIC FORM CHALLENGE
What it Is: Per Robert Lee Brewer’s popular Poetic Asides blog and magazine column, every issue we publish a poem by one of his readers in response to a poetic form challenge issued on the blog. (Just as Your Story is our lone fiction spot in the magazine, this is our lone poetry spot.)
What to Submit: The poetic form varies every issue; click here to see what Robert’s latest challenge is.
How to Submit: Check the latest form out, and simply post your poem in the Comments section of Robert’s blog.
*At WD, we don’t accept any queries via snail mail, or any electronic queries with attachments.
WRITING PROMPT:Legend Becomes Life
Feel free to take the following prompt home or post a response (500 words or fewer, funny, sad or stirring) in the Comments section below. By posting, you’ll be automatically entered in our occasional around-the-office swag drawings. If you’re having trouble with the captcha code sticking, e-mail your piece and the prompt to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, with “Promptly” in the subject line, and I’ll make sure it gets up.
On St. Patrick's Day, an old legend seemed to become a reality.
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