Shut Up & Write! Zine - Submission Guidelines for Writers
The Shut Up & Write! Annual Zine will showcase the best writing in any genre from our global writing community. Submissions open December 1-31, 2016.
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Publish Your Writing

Our annual Shut Up & Write! Zine celebrates the efforts of emerging writers in our global community.


We know you are eagerly awaiting to hear back from us about your submission, and we apologize for the delay. We received significantly more than we anticipated and so our judging process has simply taken longer. But we are narrowing down to our finalists and will be announcing winners very soon.

Key Dates / Timeline

  • February 1 – March 21st: Submissions Open
  • April – October: Judges select Finalists
  • November: Accepted Writers Announced
  • December – February: Zine Design and Printing
  • 2018 March / April: Launch and Reading Party! (San Francisco)
Shut Up & Write! Zine Submission Guidelines

Submission Guidelines

  • Send us your best writing. We’re open to various genres and formats, from poetry to flash fiction, from short story to chapter excerpt, from essay to experimental.
  • You may also submit created artwork, with or without accompanying words.
  • You may submit more than one attachment, but the word count of your entire submission should not exceed 2,000 words.
  • You must be a member of Shut Up & Write! in one of our Meetup chapters.
  • Submissions Open February 1st through March 21st, 2017.

What We Publish

We publish original fiction, non-fiction, poetry, essays, plays, short stories, flash, novel chapter excerpts, and various others writings that may not fit in any of the above categories. We accept only previously unpublished submissions.


This year’s Zine is dedicated to showcasing the best of the Shut Up & Write! Community. We want the best of your work, whatever the genre or format.

Length Recommendations

You may submit more than one attachment, but the word count of your entire submission should not exceed 2,000 words.


We will consider one to multiple pieces per writer, but total word count within submission should not exceed 2,000 words. We do recommend when submitting multiple short pieces there is a common thread or vision.


We will consider up to five poems per writer. Individual poems should not exceed thirty lines. However, if we feel the strength of the poem merits additional length, we will consider exceptions.


You may submit up to three original artworks. This can include drawings, paintings, digital creations, with or without words. Please send in JPG, with medium resolution (1080×1080 150dpi) when submitting. We will request high-resolution (300dpi) version if selected.

Manuscript Formatting

Please use one inch margins, double spacing, sans-serif, 12pt font. Please do not include your name anywhere on your submission.

Simultaneous Submissions

We accept simultaneous submissions but please notify us immediately if the piece has been accepted elsewhere.

Launch / Reading Party

We will throw a Launch and Reading Party in San Francisco, California and would love for accepted writers to attend and read their submissions. Writers who cannot attend in person will be mailed their copy of the Zine.


All rights – other than final print publication, electronic and non-exclusive archival rights, ALL copyrights are and remain the sole and exclusive property of the author.


Accepted writers will receive one copy of the published Zine and can expect subsequent exposure and recognition for their work as part of Zine promotions. Accepted writers give exclusive rights to Shut Up & Write! to use their name and bio information within Zine, our website, and as part of any promotion/marketing. We do not pay any royalties or monetary compensation. We acquire print, electronic, archival and reprint rights. We require a basic written (e-mail) acknowledgment of our acquiring these rights upon the acceptance of your submission.  

Shut Up & Write! Zine Judging Criteria

Judging Criteria

Our judges will read through every submission blindly (names are hidden). But if you want to know what we’re looking for… We love writing that moves readers; stories that speak deeply to the heart and mind. Take us somewhere real or imaginary, make us think or question, weep or laugh. We want to fall in love with your hero or really, really hate him/her. If we have to break it down, submissions will be selected considering the following.


The idea behind your writing. What is at the heart of your story. The “hook.”


Word choice and rhythm are precise, colorful, and evocative.

Structure / Plot & Pacing

The framework of the story or idea. This can include use of three-act (Beginning, Middle and End) or  non-linear story progression. The actions, events, conflicts, and turning points that propel the story forward. How the story unfolds (points for originality/unpredictability). The timing of the action, unfolding of plot elements and character development.

Characters & Dialogue

Personalities that are distinctive, compelling, multi-layered, and unpredictable. A protagonist and antagonist with clear and active goals. Voices that are natural, succinct, and unique to each character. Use of language that effectively reveals character and moves the story forward.


Exploration of the theme, as revealed through plot, dialogue, and visual elements.


Overall quality of the writing. Tone that is appropriate to the material and narrative that is distinct, interesting, and effectively conveys the mood or “feel” of the story.  

Commercial Potential

Audience appeal, marketability and sales potential


Wondering if you should submit? You should.

Does your writing meet the guidelines? If it’s under 2,000 words, it probably does.

Does my work have to have been written at a Shut Up & Write! event? No, but we do ask that you be a member of one of our chapters and have attended events.

Something we didn’t address in the details above? Contact us here!