Submission Guidelines
Updated November 12, 2018

To celebrate twenty years of publication, we're going to revisit the past. There are no new first lines for 2019. Each issue will be comprised of original works based on past first lines.

Were you inspired by the fall 2008 first line (Roy owned the only drive-thru funeral business in Maine.) but didn't see the sentence until 2015? Or maybe you started writing a story for the spring 2005 issue (Life would be so much easier if I were a cartoon character.) but you never got around to submitting it. Or maybe you sent us a story that just missed the cut and you reworked it and want to try us again. Well, now is your chance to make up for missed opportunities.

The following is the schedule/list of first lines for the 2019 issues (click the season to see the entire list of first lines for each issue):

Spring 2019
All submissions must begin with one first line from Volume 1, Issue 1 to Volume 5, Issue 4.
Due date: February 1, 2019

Summer 2019
All submissions must begin with one first line from Volume 6, Issue 1 to Volume 10, Issue 4.
Due date: May 1, 2019

Fall 2019
All submissions must begin with one first line from Volume 11, Issue 1 to Volume 15, Issue 4.
Due date: August 1, 2019

Winter 2019
All submissions must begin with one first line from Volume 16, Issue 1 to Volume 20, Issue 4.
Due date: November 1, 2019

A few notes:

  1. Don't just resubmit a story we've already rejected. We will know. We have every story submitted to us on file and why we rejected it.
  2. Also, we understand that writers may add our first line to a story they are currently working on or have already completed, and that's cool. But please do not add our first line to a previously published story and submit it to us. We do not accept previously published stories, even if they have been repurposed for our first lines.
  3. However, if you used one of our past first lines for a story that was published in another journal or magazine, write and tell us about it.

Fiction: All stories must be written with the first line provided. The line cannot be altered in any way, unless otherwise noted by the editors. The story should be between 300 and 5,000 words (this is more like a guideline and not a hard-and-fast rule; going over or under the word count won't get your story tossed from the slush pile).

Poetry: All poems must be written with the first line provided. The sentence can be broken across lines, but the punctuation cannot be altered or dropped. Poem length is up to the poet.

All Submissions: Writers should include a two- to three-sentence biography of themselves that will appear in the magazine should their story run.

Multiple Submissions: We don't mind if you want to submit multiple stories or poems for the same issue.

Submissions: We prefer you send manuscripts via e-mail to submission (@) thefirstline (dot) com. We accept stories in MS Word or Word Perfect format (we prefer attachments). Please do not send pdf versions of your story or links to Google docs. Make sure you tell us what issue you are submitting to in the email Subject Line. Make sure your name and contact information, as well as your bio, are part of the attachment. Stories also can be sent to The First Line's post office box. No manuscripts will be returned without an accompanying SASE with sufficient return postage.

Notification: We don't make decisions about stories until after each issue closes. We typically send notices out within three to four weeks after the issue's deadline to everyone who submitted a story. You can also check the home page of the Web site as we will indicate each issue's production status there.

Payment: We pay on publication: $25.00 - $50.00 for fiction, $5.00 - $10.00 for poetry, and $25.00 for nonfiction (all U.S. dollars). We also send you a copy of the issue in which your piece appears. You'll receive your money and issue at the same time.

Note to our international writers: Postage cost for sending author copies overseas is becoming outrageous, so we are reducing international author payment by the amount it would cost to send one author copy overseas. However, if you would like to receive an electronic version of the issue (PDF) instead of a hard copy, author payment will not change.

Copyright 2018 Blue Cubicle Press, LLC