Submission Guidelines - Spring 2019

All submissions must begin with one first line from
Volume 1, Issue 1 to Volume 5, Issue 4:

Vol. 1, Iss. 1: Just like his fifth grade teacher, Mr. Young, had always told him, Brian put on his thinking cap.
Vol. 1, Iss. 2: The rules are clearly spelled out in the brochure.
Vol. 1, Iss. 3: "Well, there's ten minutes of my life I'll never get back."
Vol. 1, Iss. 4: As the curtain rose, the scenario began to play itself out.
Vol. 2, Iss. 1: The picture told the entire story.
Vol. 2, Iss. 2: The person on the train kept saying, "I believe," over and over and over.
Vol. 2, Iss. 3: My father and I left on a Thursday.
Vol. 2, Iss. 4: I remember the radio was playing the best song.
Vol. 2, Iss. 5: Whitney Heather Yates knew she was in trouble from the moment she learned how to spell her name.
Vol. 2, Iss. 6: It sounded like she said, "Every day when I get home, I find a naked body in the bed."
Vol. 3, Iss. 1: "It was the only thing he couldn't do for her."
Vol. 3, Iss. 2: The party was only the beginning of what would happen tonight.
Vol. 3, Iss. 3: Hal couldn't sleep.
Vol. 3, Iss. 4: "Step this way as our tour of Earth continues."
Vol. 3, Iss. 5: "Please state your name for the court."
Vol. 3, Iss. 6: "How did you end up with a nickname like that?"
Vol. 4, Iss. 1: The first thing I saw when I woke was Chris' face.
Vol. 4, Iss. 2: "The incident on the island is the stuff of legend, but let me tell you the real story."
Vol. 4, Iss. 3: Jimmy Hanson was a sallow man who enjoyed little in life save for his _________. [Fill in the blank.]
Vol. 4, Iss. 4: I can't believe I just heard that.
Vol. 5, Iss. 1: Paul Fischer was a graduate student studying biochemistry at Emory when he met my mother.
Vol. 5, Iss. 2: The view from up here is incredible and makes me feel _________. [Fill in the blank]
Vol. 5, Iss. 3: "So, all of it was just a lie?"
Vol. 5, Iss. 4: I opened my e-mail with a mix of apprehension and excitement.

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 2019 Blue Cubicle Press, LLC