submission guidelines

When I was first starting out as a writer, I came across this quote in Stephen King’s (amazing) book On Writing that really had an impact:

“If you wrote something for which someone sent you a check, if you cashed the check and it didn’t bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.”

I will never forget the first money someone paid me for writing. It was a couple of bucks for an article about dog friendly restaurants in Las Vegas. I spent it on gasoline.

So, here’s the thing. Ninja Writers is, first and foremost, a place of teaching. I want you to have the opportunity to know what it feels like to submit something to an editor. Maybe you’ll also get to find out what it feels like to be rejected–but at least it will be by someone who loves you!

Maybe, though, you’ll find out what it feels like to have something you wrote accepted for publication. If that happens, you’ll also get to fulfill Stephen King’s criteria for talent, because I’ll send you $5.

I get it. That’s not a lot. It won’t pay your light bill, that’s for sure. But it might buy you a couple of gallons of gas or milk. Or a latte. Or, hell, frame it.

If you’re in the US, I’ll actually send you a nice, crisp fiver in the mail. I want you to hold that money in your hand. Maybe you’ll even snap a selfie of you spending it and send it to me! That would make my whole week. (If you’re not the in US, I’ll send your payment via Paypal so, you know, you can actually spend it.)

Here are the guidelines:

  1. Your piece of writing can be creative non-fiction, fiction, or poetry. I’m wide open on genres or topics. Write from the heart!
  2. Make sure that what you submit is your very best, most polished work. I suggest reaching out to other Ninjas on Facebook and asking if anyone would be willing to read your work before you submit it.
  3. Your submission should be no longer than 1000 words. This is a hard word count, meaning that you may have your submission rejected if you send it in and it’s longer than 1000 words. (Trust me when I tell you this is good practice for when you submit to other publishers later.)
  4. You should title your piece and include a byline (your name and any link you’d like to promote, such as to a blog or Facebook group), as well as a clear photograph of yourself.
  5. Your submission should be something written by you that has not been published elsewhere.
  6. Please submit your actual completed piece of writing, along with a one-page cover letter telling me something about yourself and what you’ve written.
  7. You may email your submissions to Your cover letter should be in the body of the email and the piece you are submitting should be attached as a .doc document. You may also put your submission in a Google Doc and include the link in your email.

There are three possible outcomes of your submission.

First, you might get a rejection. I’ll do my best to be constructive and let you know why.

Second, you might get an email back from me letting you know that I enjoyed the piece, but it’s just not ready for publication, with an invitation to revise and resubmit.

Finally, I might send you an acceptance letter!

I am really, really looking forward to seeing what you guys come up with. Bring on the submissions!

My goal is to post something from one of you every Sunday. It might take a while to build up to that.