What We Are Looking For       When to Submit       What to Submit       How to Submit       Response       What Do You Get Out of It?       Code of Literary Ethics

Whistling Shade is now open for submissions. Our theme for 2024 is “The Future”. We are particularly interested in the far future. What will life be like in 100 years? In 1000? Will people live forever? Will we colonize other worlds? Will machines take over? Will there even be humans at all? Send us your poetry, stories and essays by June 1. Non-theme works will also be considered for the issue.

What We Are Looking For

We publish poetry, fiction, memoirs, essays, reviews and cartoons. Our emphasis is primarily mainstream and literary, but we have a broad readership and do not espouse any given school of writing.

Poetry can be of any form, including lyric verse that employs rhyme and meter, and there is no word limit. Short stories can be anywhere from very short to 10,000 words. Essays should surround writers or literary works. Profiles of contemporary writers are very much welcome!

We also do a few book reviews with each issue (we prefer poetry and fiction, but occasionally we review non-fiction as well). Most of the books we choose to review are by past contributors to Whistling Shade. If you are a publisher or author and would like us to review your work, please query us at our admin at address.

Whistling Shade abides by a a code of literary ethics, as described below.

See our Pitfalls page for common mistakes we see in submissions.

When to Submit

Whistling Shade currently publishes only one issue per year. Our reading period is January 1 - June 1.

What to Submit

All submissions should be by e-mail and should contain:
  • A name and mailing address. The address is important because if we accept your work we will mail your copies to this address. E-mail submissions without a mailing address may be sent back.
  • A cover letter or brief bio about you. Where have you been published before? (This will only minimally influence our decision, but we do like to know.) A mention of where you heard of Whistling Shade would also be appreciated as it lets us know how writers are getting the good word on us. What cafe did you pick us up in? What web site did you surf to get here?
  • A rational subject line. We recommend including "submission" in the subject. If you just use "Re:" or the title of your work, our spam filter might be fooled and the submission will cruelly be dumped into the doomed sea of cyber flotsam.
  • The work, obviously. A word count is helpful, if it isn't too much trouble. So is page numbering. We do not have ridiculously strict format guidelines that require certain fonts, margins etc. We live in the 21st century.

No reprints please. Simultaneous submissions are okay, just let us know when they are accepted elsewhere by emailing the poetry, fiction, or editor address (the same address you used to submit the original piece). It is very important that you inform us if submitted work has been accepted by another journal. Not only does it save our editors time in reviewing a work already taken, there is sometimes not enough time to redo our layout or plans for a theme issue. So if we inform you that your piece has been accepted, and you tell us that sorry, it was already accepted elsewhere and you were just too lazy or disorganized to inform us, we may go ahead and publish it anyway. And that can wind up being rather ... er, awkward, for you.

Also, please take it easy on our submissions staff and don't submit more than 5 poems or 1 story at a time (up to 3 stories for flash fiction under 1000 words). Please do not submit again until you hear back from us.

How to Submit

Fiction submissions should be e-mailed to fiction at (substitute the "@" symbol for "at").

Poetry submissions should be e-mailed to poetry at

Essay and all other submissions should be e-mailed to editor at

We can handle most formats (PDF, RTF, HTML, even FrameMaker), or you could just paste the submission in the body of the e-mail. Note that we don't have access to a Mac, so if it is in a Mac format please use one of the above.

No mailed submissions, please.


We try to respond to submissions within 3 months. It takes this long because we have more than one editor and we have to meet and chat about these things, and getting a bunch of editors in one place at one time can be tricky. Feel free to query us if we have not responded within 3 months and we will give you a status update.

When we do respond it will often be a "sorry, we didn't select your work" sort of response. Don't feel bad though, because statistically we only accept about 1 in 20 pieces submitted. We may or may not comment on your work. If we do take it in good faith that the feedback is meant to help you gain some perspective on the work. Because we have many submissions and lack time for carefully thought out responses, ours might be rather brief and cryptic ... if you would like more detailed feedback say so in your cover letter and we'll see what we can do.

If we do accept your work, we will inform you and give you the details of publication. The copyright will stay with you. For a story, we might ask you for an illustration ... if you don't have anything in mind we will have a member of the staff or an artist create something. We'll also try to e-mail you a PDF galley of your work prior to publication so that you can look it over. Then when the issue is ready we will mail you copies, or (if you are local to Mpls/St. Paul) invite you to the issue release.

What Do You Get Out of It?

Payment is in the form of 2 contributor's copies. At this time cash payment is not in our budget. However, if you are a starving artist, please mention that once the work has been accepted and we will send you a small check.

Other than that, you get the glory of appearing in Whistling Shade, being read by a couple thousand readers (more readers than many books) and furthering your book sales or literary career. And heck, there's just the sheer pleasure of appearing in print.

Code of Literary Ethics

Because there are many more writers shopping their work than there are 'zines to publish them, writers are sometimes taken advantage of. So, we've formulated some guidelines, a code of ethics if you will, that we follow here at Whistling Shade. We hope that you will trust us with your work; we understand that to be a good literary magazine we need to publish great writing, and to publish great writing we need to attract the best writers, and do that we need to treat the writers well.

Whistling Shade:

  • Will not charge "reading" fees for submissions.
  • Will not accept money or other favors for publishing submissions or reviewing books.
  • Will not try to pressure submitting authors into subscribing to Whistling Shade to "see the sort of writing we publish". You can read past issues on our web site.
  • Will not otherwise attempt to generate money from our submissions (e.g. contests with an entry fee). We earn money from advertisers and subscribers, not submitting authors. Got that?
  • Will apply the same standards of merit to all writers, whether or not we know them.
  • Will not discriminate based on race, gender, nationality etc.
  • Will try to respond to every submission we receive, adding comments if we think it would be helpful.
  • Will be courteous to authors whether we accept or reject their work.
  • Will not prohibit writers from reprinting work we publish (all we ask is that you credit Whistling Shade with original publication).