Whistling Shade Press - Submissions

Whistling Shade is currently closed for book submissions while we prepare a 20-year anthology of the literary journal. When we re-open, hopefully in 2024, we will focus on our Geste series, but other manuscripts will also be considered.

The Geste series

Whistling Shade's Geste series, including books such as Julian Bernick's Castle Bash, aims to keep alive this once dominant genre of poetry.

A geste is a verse tale of romance or adventure. The geste is different from the epic in that it does not involve a large cast of characters, super-human exploits, or national identity. It is somewhat closer to a ballad, but is longer and contains more detail. Examples of gestes include Byron's "Don Juan", Keat's "Isabella", Longfellow's "Evangeline", and George Eliot's "The Spanish Gypsy". Gestes often employ a rhyme scheme, and almost always meter. In other words, a geste is not a long prose poem, and it is not simply prose broken up in free verse-style lines. Above all, a geste must have a cohesive narrative - we are not talking about collections of short narrative poems here, even if they do all vaguely surround your recent break-up.

Very few gestes have been published since 1900, and not a single poetry publisher that we can find is working with this genre. Presumably the novel has overshadowed the geste. Yet we find certain stories - concentrated in action, lyrical in treatment - are better adapted for a geste than for a novel. Certainly the geste is a hard genre to master - requiring both the fiction writer's story telling abilities and a poet's beautiful language. Nonetheless we at Whistling Shade believe in the revival of the geste as a thoroughly modern genre, and are excited to launch its comeback, if any poets can be found capable of writing one.

If you have written a geste, we highly encourage you to mail your MS to the address below. Unlike other book submissions, we do not require that your work has appeared in the Whistling Shade literary journal previously.

And remember...

I say - the future is a serious matter -
And so - for God's sake - hock and soda-water!

- Byron

What we can do for your book

If we do publish your book we will:
  • Provide editing. We have an experienced staff that will make sure the book is ready for the great world.
  • Provide cover art, an ISBN, and all that good stuff.
  • Pay 20% royalties on net sales of your book.
  • Place the book in stores in the Twin Cities and surrounding area.
  • List the book with on-line sellers (Amazon etc.).
  • Send the book out for reviews.
  • Coordinate readings and signings.
  • And of course advertise the book in Whistling Shade.

How to submit a manuscript

For the Geste series, you can e-mail your manuscript as a Word or RTF attachment to our editor e-mail mentioned above.

If we have requested a printed manuscript, our address is:

Whistling Shade
1495 Midway Pkwy
St. Paul, MN 55108

You need not send a synopsis. Send the entire manuscript.

Other questions

Are you a vanity publisher?
No. We are a royalty-paying small press.

Do you charge reading fees for manuscripts?
Hell no.

I write only novels, so I have nothing to submit to the journal. Would you still consider my novel?
Come on. Any novelist worth their salt can write a good story or at least a review.

What genre are you looking for in fiction?
We are mainly interested in mainstream literary novels. Novels that incorporate elements from genre fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, historical, mystery) will certainly be considered.

What about poetry?
We enjoy many different styles of poetry, from free verse and surrealistic riffs to lyrical meter and rhyme pieces. The important thing is that your poems are passionate, exciting, original.

What word length are you looking for?
For fiction, 50k words on up. Most novels are between 90k and 100k words. For a poetry collection, between thirty and ninety pages in standard format (each poem beginning on a different page).

Other questions
If you have other questions about Whistling Shade Press, please address them to Joel Van Valin (admin at whistlingshade.com)