Posted by: Kathy Temean | July 15, 2020

Opportunity: The First Line – Get Published and Get Paid

The First Line loves that writers around the world are inspired by their first lines, and they know that not every story will be sent to us. However, we ask that you do not submit stories starting with their first lines to other journals (or post them online on public sites) until they’ve notified you as to our decision (usually three to four weeks after the deadline). When the entire premise of the publication revolves around one sentence, they don’t want it to look as if we stole that sentence from another writer. If you have questions, feel free to drop them a line.

Also, they understand that writers may add their first line to a story they are currently working on or have already completed, and that’s cool. But please do not add their first line to a previously published story and submit it to them. They do not accept previously published stories, even if they have been repurposed for their first lines.

One more thing: Writers compete against one another for magazine space, so, technically, every literary magazine is running a contest. There are, however, literary magazines that run traditional contests, where they charge entry fees and rank the winners. They do not – nor will they ever – charge a submission fee, nor do they rank their stories in order of importance. Occasionally, they run contests to help come up with new first lines, or they run fun, gimmicky competitions for free stuff, but the actual journal is not a contest in the traditional sense.

Fiction: All stories must be written with the first line provided. The line cannot be altered in any way, unless otherwise noted by the editors. The story should be between 300 and 5,000 words (this is more like a guideline and not a hard-and-fast rule; going over or under the word count won’t get your story tossed from the slush pile). The sentences can be found on the home page of The First Line’s Web site, as well as in the prior issue. Note: They are open to all genres. They try to make TFL as eclectic as possible.

Non-Fiction: 500-800 word critical essays about your favorite first line from a literary work.

All Stories: Writers should include a two- to three-sentence biography of themselves that will appear in the magazine should their story run.

Multiple Submissions: They don’t mind if you want to submit multiple stories for the same issue. However, it is unlikely they will use more than one of your stories in the same issue.

Submissions: They prefer you send manuscripts via e-mail to: submission@thefirstline.com. They accept stories in MS Word or Word Perfect format (they prefer attachments). Please do not send pdf versions of your story or links to Google docs. Make sure your name and contact information, as well as your bio, are part of the attachment. Stories also can be sent to The First Line’s post office box. No manuscripts will be returned without an accompanying SASE with sufficient return postage. Here is the submission schedule for 2020:

Fall:
The Simmons public library was a melting pot of the haves and have-nots, a mixture of homeless people and the wealthy older residents of the nearby neighborhood.
Due date: August 1, 2020

Winter:
Loud music filled the room, making it hard to hear anything else.
Due date: November 1, 2020

Notification: We don’t make decisions about stories until after each issue closes. We typically send notices out within three to four weeks after the issue’s deadline to everyone who submitted a story. You can also check the home page of the website as we will indicate each issue’s production status there.

Payment: They pay on publication: $25.00 – $50.00 for fiction, $5.00 – $10.00 for poetry, and $25.00 for nonfiction (all U.S. dollars). They also send you a copy of the issue in which your piece appears. You’ll receive your money and issue at the same time.

Note to our international writers: Postage cost for sending author copies overseas is becoming outrageous, so we are reducing international author payment by the amount it would cost to send one author copy overseas. However, if you would like to receive an electronic version of the issue (PDF) instead of a hard copy, author payment will not change.

Talk tomorrow,

Kathy


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