Submission Guidelines

Riddled with Arrows Literary Journal is now OPEN to submissions. 

What We Publish: 

Riddled with Arrows is a rougue, semi-seasonal online literary journal that centers metafiction, ars poetica, and creative writing and art that centers the process and product of writing as art. Read that again. We have no restrictions on genre or form, so long as the work is about writing and/or comments on itself as a written-object in interesting and meaningful ways. 

What do we mean by Metafiction? We’re so glad you asked.

What about Ars PoeticaRead these too.

We prefer tight, vivid, surprising, evocative writing. Proofread first, please. We will work with new writers, but only so far. Rule of thumb: when you think you’re done, trim another 10% (or as close as you can get). We dare you.

We are open to all writing categories and styles. Literary, Fantasy/Sci-Fi, Horror, Weird, Experimental, Esoteric. Surprise us. We are not overly concerned with genre labels or expectations.


What We Want:

RwA 5.4: Open Theme

For our Summer Open-Theme issue we are prioritizing prose over poetry, but we will consider any manner of works on any subject, so long as it meets our primary objective: we want writing and art that centers the process and product of writing as art. Send us your strongest work, folks, our budget is slim. 

Fiction  Your fiction may be dreamily unaware of itself as a written artifact or gleefully and openly meta. All that really matters is that it be about writing, or be reflective of itself in some central and meaningful way AND address the current theme. Fiction that simply features characters who happen to be writers doing nothing writing-related won’t cut it. We will consider microfiction as short as a few sentences and stories up to 1500 words (the sweet spot is somewhere between 500-1000 words). This is firm. Trim it, or we’ll reject it.

Poetry  As with fiction, poems may be overtly or subtly meta—though poems that merely use the words “poetry”, “poem”, or “poet” as  metaphor are probably not meta enough. We crave poetry that explores, celebrates (or grieves for, or rages against?) poetry itself AND makes at least a nod to the current theme. We enjoy poetry that uses language, form, and other neat tricks to comment on itself; these elements need to be central and forward to count as “self-aware”. We tend to favor free verse but admire well-crafted formal and metric poetry. For the love of Pablo, please be sure your rhymes are organic and interesting.

Visual poetry will be paid the same rate as text-based poetry, or not, at the discretion of the Editor.

Non-Fiction – Riddled with Arrows  will consider creative non-fiction, poetic prose, and informative essays in keeping with our meta-aesthetics and current theme. We DO NOT WANT How-To articles and/or personal essays you’ll find in any magazine aimed at would-be writers. We want inventive, unexpected, deep and clever writing-centric works of non-fictional prose that reflect the writer’s world.

We are particularly interested in non-fiction that plays with writing as culture, writing as art, writing as an evolving and even sentient thing. We want semantics and lexicons and discourse, philology, graphology, politics, slang, libraries, historical tomes, alphabets, idiolects and interviews—go wild. Humor and oddity a plus. We really don’t get enough in this category.

Visual Art – We are always open to meta- (self-reflective) art and art relating to or evocative of the process and product of writing as art. For examples of meta art, look hereherehere, and here. In particular, we want art that reflects our issue themes.

There’s a lot of wiggle room here; get funky. We will consider anything: comics, collage, photography, digital paintings, calligraphy, whatever, so long as you can scan and upload it. Rarely do we know what we’re looking for until we see it.

If we can find basically the same thing for free on Pixabay, we’re less likely to buy it. We want to sense the eye behind the camera and see the brushstrokes, so to speak. 

??? I-Don’t-Know-What-to-Call-This – We will consider work that does not fall easily under the above labels. Surprise and delight us. Check out these links for examples of things that have struck our meta-fancy lately. Please see the guidelines for prose, poetry, and visual art below and use your best judgement.


How We Want It:

for General Submissions

Fiction / Creative Non-Fiction Poetry Image Poetry
Erasures, mixed-media poems, etc.

 Visual Art

1 submission of 1 work of prose OR up to 3 micro-prose per submission period, pasted in the body of your email, below cover letter.

Max. Total 1500 words single-spaced in standard 12-pt font.*

*Prose with tricky formatting may be sent as an attachment, labeled with title of piece. Please mention why in your cover letter.

1 submission of up to 3 poems per submission period, pasted in the body of your email, below cover letter.

Max. Total 5 pages poems single-spaced in standard 12-pt font.*

*Poems with tricky formatting may be sent as an attachment, labeled with title of poem. Please mention why in your cover letter.

1 submission of Up to 3 jpeg images per submission period, sent as separate attachments, each labeled with title of poem.

We’re not picky about size, but text in images should be legible when shrunk to say 500 pixels in any one dimension.

Please note: image-based poems may be accepted (and paid) as either Visual Art or Poetry, at the discretion of the Editor.

1 submission of up to 5 .jpeg images per submission period sent as separate attachments, each labeled with title of image.

We’re not picky about size. Not so big the email won’t open, no smaller than 500 pixels in any one dimension.

Send all work in an email with cover letter to:


*The Nitty Gritty Stuff:

Please put the word SUBMISSION in the Subject field of your email, followed by the genre, followed by your name in brackets, ie: SUBMISSION: Non-Fiction [Your Name Here]

Do not mix genres in the same email. Submit separately. One submission per genre per person per submission period. In other words, you may send ONE story and ONE batch of poems. You may not send two stories (unless they are microfiction, see Fiction Guidelines) or two batches of poems, etc. Clear as mud? Again, PLEASE DO NOT MIX GENRES IN THE SAME EMAIL. SUBMIT THEM SEPARATELY.

Please include a COVER LETTER. And by “please” we mean “do”. Bare minimum: your name and/or byline and brief author bio with relevant publishing credits, if you have them (though we are more interested in your work than your pedigree). In lieu of these, or just for fun, you might add a snippet of something unusual or relevant or fascinating about yourself. We like unusual and relevant and fascinating people. We also like corny jokes. It’s true!

Best Practice: acknowledge the human willing to read your work and maybe pay you for it. You may address your correspondence to Shannon Connor Winward, (no “e” in Connor, one “d” in Winward), pronouns She/Her but also They as in the Royal We. Dear Shannon is fine, too. Dear Editor is okay, though it shows you haven’t done your homework, dunnit. 

Visual Artists: Please include a brief statement describing 1) the title and media used for each image and 2) how you see these images as fitting the journal and issue theme(s). 

WE WILL NO LONGER READ NOR RESPOND TO BLANK EMAILS WITH ATTACHMENTS. It’s rude, and it’s usually not for us anyway

Paste all work into the body of your email, below your cover letter, as this is the best format for our editing process. Visual Art and image-based poetry and/or written-objects with complicated formatting may be sent as attachments if so noted within your cover letter.


*Please understand that the editor-in-chief operates with visual and neurological disabilities (for starters). There is method to our madness.


Submission FAQ:

Simultaneous Submissions are cool with us. Please inform us immediately if your work is no longer available.

Re-submitting rejected work – No thank you. Please do not send work that we have previously rejected unless you were expressly invited to do so.  Send something new instead. Keep writing.  

Reprints – Yes, but preference will be given to work that is not available elsewhere (including blogs and social media). Please include previous publication details with your submission, and be sure you retain the rights.

Collaborative works: We will consider collaborative works such as translations, author/illustrator mixed media, poet/artist ekphrastic works, and author/author co-written objects. Please identify all creators and include contact information for all parties in your cover letter, along with a description of the collaboration (who did what, when, how, and why). In the case of visual art / written-object collaborations, please also indicate whether or not you are willing to separate the writing from the art. Upon acceptance, collaborative efforts that are presented as a single work will be paid for one work divided two ways, as either visual or written work, at the discretion of the editor; whereas works presented as separate and divisible works will be accepted individually, at the applicable rate(s).

Just don’t. It’s a shame this must be said, but do not be misogynistic, homophobic, racist, or a bigoted asshat of any kind, in a fictional context or otherwise. Also, we see far too much genitalia in the slush. Too many? Either way. Please, no gratuitous sex or violence. 

Own Voices: We encourage potential contributors to include statements of identity, background, disability, and/or any other circumstances you’d like us to consider when reading and framing your work. Among other factors we will and do give special weight to submissions from those creating from marginalized spaces. We also love giving platforms to never-published and under-published writers. All other things being equal, we we will prioritize creators who have not yet appeared in Riddled with Arrows.

Other Considerations
You Have Been Warned):

  • **We reserve the right to close to submissions earlier than publicized
    We have our reasons. Submit early.
  • We reserve the right to delete unread any submissions that do not follow the Guidelines. We also reserve the right to respond with snippy admonishments if we haven’t had our coffee yet.
  • Repeat offenders and abusive asshats will be blacklisted.

Riddled with Arrows Editorial Policy: Here at Riddled with Arrows we put creators first. We do not make substantive changes without consent, down to the level of the semi-colon; we vow to treat your creative works with kid gloves, with one notable exception. Please be aware that if your work is accepted to Riddled with Arrows it may and very likely will be subjected to stylistic modifications, including but not limited to changes in spacing and font elements, orientation, hyperlinks, visual and/or atmospheric effects and other decisions of design at the discretion of the Editor. Creators retain right of veto over anything that violates their original vision or sensibilities, but we cannot stop to explain our house style to every new contributor. Be sure to explore our past issues for examples of the kinds of meta-shenanigans we get up to before you submit to our journal. 

It is not necessary for you to include hypetextual shenanigans with your submissions, unless that’s your thing. We will consider any and all such hyperlink-activity as suggestions independent of your written content.

Rights & Rates:

As ever, we are a paying market. No submission fees.

Riddled with Arrows seeks First Electronic Rights for original work and Reprint Electronic Rights for previously published work. All work published in Riddled with Arrows will be archived for the life of the journal. 

We believe authors and artists should be paid for their workRiddled with Arrows is modestly funded from a mix of private donations, the editor’s personal checkbook, and proceeds from the Ars Poetica Prize. From this kitty we offer: 

  • Unpublished Poetry & Prose – USD 3¢/word, minimum $5, maximum $25 
  • Reprints: USD $5 Flat Rate
  • Visual Art: USD $10 Flat Rate

PayPal is a prerequisite for all Contributors. Payments are issued through PayPal upon publication. It is our intention to explore broader payment options, but we for now we’re sticking with what works. 

From time to time, Contributors choose to waive payment to support the Riddled with Arrows project. We won’t ask and don’t expect it, but we will accept (and be forever grateful for) the generosity of anyone moved to do so. Every penny goes to feed the writers.

What to Expect After Submitting

  • Acknowledgement: You should receive an automated response acknowledging your email–if you do not receive an auto-reply, please query.
  • Submission Status Replies: We pride ourselves on a fast response. If you do not receive an email from a human of some kind within 10 days, please query. 
  • Lost Submissions: Human error, server glitches, evil gnomes—these things happen. If you don’t get an Autoreply within a few hours, PLEASE QUERY. Once the submission window closes we can’t turn back the clock. 
  • Mind the Gap: our production process goes very fast, often with just a brief period between acceptance and publication. Upon acceptance we will send you a contract-like-object and issue-specific requests and updates. Please be prepared to read these promptly and respond in kind. 


Bonus Stuff (For Those Who Hunger)

More on the Riddled with Arrows Aesthetic (Yay Rabbit Holes!):

  • Our interview with Jim Harrington on the “Six Questions For…” blog
  • Our interview in Sapling (Black Lawrence Press)
  • Our interview with Trish Hopkinson on her poetry blog
  • SCW’s blog-series on the poems selected for issue #22 of Eye to the Telescope

Riddled with Arrows Trivia:

  • We have a special fondness for submissions that are seasonally appropriate. This is icing on the meta-cake, not a requirement.
  • Riddled with Arrows published nearly 140 poets, writers and visual artists in Volumes 1 & 2. We should probably update these statistics.
  • Riddled with Arrows Literary Journal is an Aries.
  • The RwA Editor-in-Chief is a Gemini, and boy is she ever.
  • There are certain things we see a lot of in the Slush Pile, meaning we are less likely to accept them when we see them.



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