Submission Guidelines - Fall 2019

All submissions must begin with one first line from
Volume 11, Issue 1 to Volume 15, Issue 4:

Vol. 11, Iss. 1: Herman Sligo was a bit actor who played Uncle Emil in three episodes of the popular television series The Five Sisters..
Vol. 11, Iss. 2: For two weeks now, I've been trying to figure out if people are laughing with me or at me.
Vol. 11, Iss. 3: "My life is a sham."
Vol. 11, Iss. 4: Waiting for change always seems to take longer than you would expect.
Vol. 12, Iss. 1: Working for God is never easy.
Vol. 12, Iss. 2: Paul and Miriam Kaufman met the old-fashioned way.
Vol. 12, Iss. 3: Three thousand habitable planets in the known universe, and I'm stuck on the only one without ___________. [Fill in the blank.]
Vol. 12, Iss. 4: Until I stumbled across an article about him in the paper, I never realized how much Walter Dodge and I are alike.
Vol. 13, Iss. 1: Sam was a loyal employee.
Vol. 13, Iss. 2: "We need to talk."
Vol. 13, Iss. 3: Edwin spotted them the moment he stepped off the train.
Vol. 13, Iss. 4: It had been a long year.
Vol. 14, Iss. 1: "There are a few things you need to know before we start."
Vol. 14, Iss. 2: Rachel's first trip to England didn't go as planned.
Vol. 14, Iss. 3: A light snow was falling as Charlie Reardon left the diner and made his way down Madison Street.
Vol. 14, Iss. 4: Sometimes, when it's quiet, I can remember what my life was like before moving to Cedar Springs.
Vol. 15, Iss. 1: On a perfect spring morning with flat seas and clear blue skies, Captain Eli P. Cooke made a terrible mistake.
Vol. 15, Iss. 2: I started collecting secrets when I was just six years old.
Vol. 15, Iss. 3: There must have been thousands standing in the rain that day.
Vol. 15, Iss. 4: I came of age in a time of no heroes.

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