TW Submissions

Submit all work and queries at

See TW's Editorial Calendar for upcoming themes.


General Guidelines

TW editors have eclectic tastes, but we're drawn to personal essays and good stories. Other TW rules of thumb: Make clear, provocative arguments. Write from a personal perspective, but focus on more than yourself—and don't fudge the facts. Avoid an academic tone. Hook us from the first line.

We usually publish work that has not appeared elsewhere. After a piece appears in TW and that issue has been archived, writers are free to republish their work in other places—as long as they credit Talking Writing as the original source.

At the present time, we're unable to pay writers or artists for the work we publish. But our editors work directly with writers to ensure the quality of their pieces.

The $3.00 fee for submissions through Submittable offsets our administrative costs. Queries are free, but we request that you send them through Submittable as well.

We respond to all submissions and queries as quickly as possible, but there may be delays, especially during TW's summer hiatus and around holidays.

Simultaneous submissions are fine, but tell us in your cover message if your work is also being considered elsewhere. If it’s accepted at another journal, let us know that, too, so we can remove it from consideration. 

TW Writing Categories

Talking Writing publishes pieces of various lengths and styles. However, shorter pieces are easier to read online, and we're more likely to accept work that's less than 1,200 words. Here are TW's main writing categories with word counts:

Theme Essays

We're always looking for good essays on our issue themes. See TW's Editorial Calendar for deadlines. Theme essays are often short opinion pieces that are meant to generate debate. Length: 800 to 1,200 words.


TW publishes first-person journalism about many topics related to the reading and writing life—for instance, features about books, movies, well-known authors, and literary trends. We like pieces that examine current media debates or the personal connections readers (and writers) make to books. Note that we rarely run reviews of a single book. Length: 800 to 1,500 words.


Talking Writing publishes poetry in each issue—and our annual spring poetry issue focuses on a particular theme or genre. Featured poets generally publish more than one poem in a given issue. Please submit three to five poems in one document, but no more than five pages in all.

Note: We accept poetry submissions only during specific reading periods.


Talking Writing publishes short stories or flash fiction in some issues. If you're submitting flash fiction, include no more than three stories, each no longer than 1,000 words, in one document. Length: Short stories up to 8,000 words; flash fiction up to 1,000 words.

Note: We accept general fiction submissions only during specific reading periods.

Flash Nonfiction and Hybrid Work

We publish short memoir pieces and literary hybrids in most issues. In particular, we're interested in flash essays—idea-driven work between 800 and 1,000 words—and other forms of flash nonfiction written in a strong first-person voice. Length: 500 to 1,500 words.

"Why I Write" Essays

These short essays address the essential question for writers: Why write? The category is based on George Orwell's 1946 piece of that title—but TW's "Why I Write" essays can go in many directions. Length: 800 to 1,200 words.


TW editors occasionally assign long Q&A-style interviews of well-known writers, artists, or publishers. Length: 800 to 2,500 words. Please submit proposals for interviews under the “Queries” category in Submittable.

Visual Arts and Comics

Talking Writing features the work of visual artists, photographers, and cartoonists in each issue. We also use spot art from a variety of sources. Send up to three images (no more than 1 Mb in total). Even better: We charge no fees for submission of visual art and comics in Submittable.

Comics: Submissions may be ongoing strips, single cartoons, or excerpts from graphic novels. We enjoy meta takes on storytelling, witty puns, and sheer goofiness. ("Zippy the Pinhead" is an old favorite of one TW editor.) We like comics about literary authors and culture—and often look for a connection to one of our quarterly themes. Please do not submit political cartoons.


Submit all work and queries at

See TW's Editorial Calendar for upcoming themes.

Check TW Contests for more about our annual prizes.