Submission Guidelines

PLEASE NOTE: Black Heart has reopened to regular submissions. We are now ONLY accepting submissions for our new format: themed issues that will debut with our DISARM anthology this September. Additional info will be added to this page as new themes are developed.

Currently, we remain open to all genres of previously unpublished works of poetry and short fiction (now 2,500 words or less), as well as nonfictional items including book reviews, Character Crushes and Venomous Villain pieces.

Please read and abide by the specific guidelines (listed below) for the section to which you’d like to submit. We look forward to reading your work.


SHORT FICTION: Short pieces to a maximum of 2,500 words are accepted. All genres are considered. We do NOT accept novel excerpts. Please send only one story at a time, and wait for a response to that piece before submitting another. Simultaneous submissions (i.e. sending the same piece to several different publications) are fine; simply withdraw your piece from our system if it is accepted elsewhere. Writers have a choice between Fee and Free submissions; fee-based submissions will receive brief feedback on submitted work, whereas free submissions will only receive a form acceptance or rejection letter. Submit short fiction here.

POETRY: Poetry submissions of up to 3 poems in one document are accepted. We do not care for epic or rhyming poetry. Poems that require special formatting are also frowned upon, as our site does not support convoluted text orientation. Writers have a choice between Fee and Free submissions; fee-based submissions will receive brief feedback on submitted work, whereas free submissions will only receive a form acceptance or rejection letter. Submit your poetry here.


BOOK REVIEWS: We accept strongly opinionated reviews of new books (published within the past year) and soon-to-be-released titles of the indie, self-published and small press persuasion. We do NOT review academic titles, nonfiction of any kind, children’s or YA literature. Reviews should be a maximum of 1,000 words, with at least 2/3 of the review dedicated to an honest, personal response to the title in question. Tell us what you really think, and don’t be shy. Book reviews are personal opinions, NOT summaries nor character attacks on an author. Also note that reviews MAY NOT be written by anyone with conflicts of interest (i.e. close personal friends of the author, or by the author him/herself), and should end on a positive note, recommending at least two similar works if the overall verdict is negative. For more instructions on how to write kick-ass reviews, please refer to this blog post from Men With Pens before submitting your finished piece here. If you would like to write regular reviews for us, please query with clips.

CHARACTER CRUSHES: In addition to our more traditional book reviews (see above), we are also seeking Character Crush pieces, which highlight the “crush-worthy” aspects of classic literary characters. Whether you are turned on by Tinker Bell, have a thing for Holden Caulfield, or crush on Coco Darling, we want to know more about all the characters that drive you crazy. Classic literature is full of crushable characters. Tell us about the ones you love, whether imitating their own style or using whatever format feels most natural to you. Past crushes have been written in verse (the ode being an excellent literary technique), as well as distant editorial prose, openly gushing love letters, and more. Characters most wanted include: Catherine & Heathcliff (Wuthering Heights), Anna & Vronsky (Anna Karenina), Romeo & Juliet, Rhett & Scarlett (Gone With the Wind), Emma, Anne of Green Gables, Le Petit Prince, Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza (Love in the Time of Cholera), etc. Check our archives to see if your character has already been written up, then hit us with your best shot here.

VENOMOUS VILLAINS: A partner to our Character Crushes (see above), we are also seeking odes to the dark side, heralding literature’s greatest villains. From true evildoers to antagonists that agonize us, we want to know what makes your favorite Big Bad tick – in your most non-academic manner possible (remember: this is meant to be a personal, persuasive essay, not a book report for your college prof). Characters most wanted include: Satan (various representations), Iago (Othello), Miss Havisham (Great Expectations), Professor Moriarty (“The Final Problem”), Richard III, Humbert Humbert (Lolita), Helen Grayle/Velma Valento (Farewell, My Lovely), The Judge (Blood Meridian), and witches of all kinds. Examples of villain pieces already published on our site include Mr. Hyde, Lady Macbeth and Tom Buchanan. Write what you feel – with an emphasis on the literary versions of these characters, as opposed to filmic variants – then hit us with your best shot here.


Response Time

Varies. As we are going through editorial and formatting shifts, response times can be up to 6 months. We understand this is a long time to wait for a reply, which is why we accept simultaneous submissions. Please be patient; we read every piece submitted in the order it’s received.


No monetary payment is available, as Black Heart’s day-to-day activities – like those of most literary magazines – are run on the sunshine and rainbows that emanate from our volunteer staffers’ asses. Contributors to our anthologies and issues will receive electronic copies of the collection in which their piece appears.


Please do not send us work that you would not want to see published on our site. This may sound obvious, but note that we will not “unpublish” your work if you have a change of heart. Consider our website as written in pen, not pencil – just like the rest of the Internet – and use a pseudonym if you must.

Black Heart reserves the right to edit all pieces considered for publication, both for obvious typographical/spelling/grammatical errors and for alignment with our internal style guide and overall editorial vision. The editing process remains the same for all submitters, regardless of perceived stature and cover letter name-drops.

Writers intent on making our editors’ lives difficult will be added to a blacklist that fires all email from said writers directly into the sun. Piss off our editors at your own peril.

If you don’t like or agree with any of these policies, we cordially invite you to submit your work elsewhere.

How to Submit

Send us your best work via our submissions manager. Options are available for each genre; please choose appropriately (i.e. make sure your “poetry” submission is actually a poem and not a short story, as they will be routed to different editors). Stories that surpass our stated word limits will not be read.

(Last updated 1 August 2016)

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