Submission Guidelines

General Requests

Sugared Water reads April 1 – May 1 and October 1 – November 1 via Submittable.

Give us your decayed, sugar-crusted, little black hearts. Write to us about sun-warmed planks and hollow bones. Don’t be afraid to bury the grotesque right next to the beautiful. It’s the change we’re looking for, the surprise hidden just under the surface.

Our cover letter is optional, but we do need the following information:

  • your name as you wish it to appear.
  • contact information including email address and mailing address.
  • brief bio (50 words or fewer & no more than 5 previous publications, please). We have a word-count box in our submission form to prevent lengthy bios. Please use it. 🙂

Please send:

  • only your original works
  • previously unpublished
  • standard manuscript format
  • Garamond or Times New Roman typeface preferred—no Courier
  • submission in one of the following formats: .rtf, .doc, or .docx
  • all works in one file.
  • for artworks or erasures, we prefer .jpgs.


We’d be delighted to sample 3 to 5 of your finest poems.

We enjoy image-heavy work, narrative or lyric, experimental or grounded, and prose poems too. We look forward to leaping with you, discovering as you lead us along the page.

Please submit all poems in one .rtf, .doc, or .docx. Poems should be spaced as you’d like them to appear. (NOTE: Due do our production size and layout, long lines won’t always appear as they do in 12 point font—try 18 point Garamond to test line breaks)

IF you are sending us erasures with whited-or-blacked-out text, please send them in JPG format via the ART category.

Things we don’t usually accept:

  • double spaced poems (rare is the poem that can stand up to a stanza break after every line).
  • poems with lines scattered all over the page (our format doesn’t allow for this)
  • poems shaped like a guitar (or other centered object d’art)
  • rhyming poems (end-line rhyme distracts us)
  • love poems using the word love
  • poetry full of angels


Give us your briar patches and shady ladies, your heroes and literary tales. (If you dare to send us a story with a unicorn, she better be a chain smoker.)

  • up to 2,000 words
  • our happy place is right around 1,500 or fewer.

Our fiction gnomes get upset when things show up without paragraphs or proper manuscript format. Flagrant lack or proofreading or a failure to observe legible fonts will likely lead to instant rejection. Comic Sans is a travesty. Violators will make us cry buckets of unattractive, snotty tears. We really dislike Courier typeface, so please stick with Garamond or Times New Roman.

Things we’d rather not see:

  • 2nd person narratives
  • classic Westerns (we’ll take a look at a twist, though!)
  • war poems or stories (unless written by a veteran)
  • a narrator creepering the object of his affection from afar
  • time travel, unless it’s something like One-Minute Time Machine
  • misogynist narrators complaining about all the women who’ve ruined his life

Creative Nonfiction

Yes, we love the lyric essay. We adore character sketches, journal entries, letters, and flash nonfiction. We’ll try experimental prose forms and things that blend and bend the lines of reality whilst remaining true at the heart. We’ll check out your braided essays and hermit crabs, your lists and even your word maps. Stun us with the beauty of your words.

  • up to 2,000 words
  • preference for works 500 – 1,500 words

Art, Comics, Sequential Art, & Illustrated Narratives

  • 1-5 artworks at a time
  • please send 72ppi .jpgs (we will request printable, high resolution files should we accept your work)
  • Artist statements (in cover letter) are appreciated

All media considered, though we have a bit of a soft spot for the figurative, narrative, or documentary style. Don’t be afraid to write on photographs and scribble over paintings.

If you send in illos, please try to send things that can stand alone OR as a cluster. We like to accept more than one piece by each artist.

Layers are wonderful, and we’d love to see the things you’ve been hiding in your sketchbooks.


Simultaneous submissions are allowed & encouraged, but please let us know if your work is accepted elsewhere and needs to be withdrawn. The best way to withdraw a single piece from a packet is the ‘add note’ feature. Open your submission, click the activity tab, and type in your note telling us which piece(s) need to be withdrawn. Using the ‘withdraw’ button takes your entire packet out of consideration.

Please wait for our response to your first packet before sending additional submissions in any given genre. (You may, for example, submit 5 poems and 2,000 words of fiction if you like, but not two packets of poems at the same time.)

Please do not withdraw submissions multiple times to make small edits to work. Multiple edits on the same piece inspire us to reject things, because they clearly weren’t ready for us in the first place. If you need to make an edit, please request an edit via Submittable.

Payment & Rights

We request First North American Serial Rights. Your rights revert back to you, the author/artist, upon publication. For participation in our magazine, you will receive one (1) contributor copy of the issue in which your work appears. You will also receive a contributor discount on additional copies.

We may ask to archive your work on our website/blog some time after print publication. We will ask first.

Special Editions

Every now and then, Sugared Water will make a call for special themed limited edition anthologies. Please check our blog for specifics.

2017 – bramble&thorn – powerful girls & women making their own way
a cartography / exploration limited edition

Past Special Editions:


26 thoughts on “Submission Guidelines

  1. Ladies and or Gentlemen,
    Can I submit in hard copy, or to employ a trendy phrase, “snail mail”? I’m a bit ‘old school’, but will try electric submission if no other option. (Only did it once). Look forward to your aggravated response.
    S. A. Gerber-
    Stray Farm

  2. Does writing which has appeared on a blog fall under the category of “previously published?” I ask because some sites say they won’t accept something previously published, but if asked will tell you that they don’t care if it’s been published in a blog.

    • That sounds more like wine induced origin story, and I’m afraid SW just isn’t that complicated, but modern art is an influence we can get behind. If you can translate that into a poem, then you might have something for us, as long as you don’t use the word instantiations.

  3. I would like to submit poetry. In your guidelines, you request name and contact info on every page. Is it every page or every poem or every complete poetry submission? The reason I ask is that name and contact info on every page is usually not requested or desired.

    Thank you!

    • Some places request it and some do not. We ask for it b/c we often print physical copies of our final round picks to pass around and make notes on. If your name isn’t on the poem, we just have to type it there anyway, so it saves us time.

    • Do you mean work posted on closed sites like Blackboard forums, where only the class has access for a limited time? If you’d like to post us details in your cover letter. If it’s just pieces workshopped in a private site, we might consider it.

  4. A few questions! Do you guys take submissions from outside the country? and I saw on the submittable page that you guys would accept reprints—is that applicable to material published online?

    Thank you!!

    • Each title we produce has its own guidelines. Yes, we accept international submission via Submittable. Yes, online publication (even blogs or facebook) definitely puts something in a reprint category. (Our anthologies are usually open for reprint, but only with acknowledgement of where the work first appeared.)

      Sugared Water (the lit mag) is not open for reprints unless we solicit them.

  5. Hi! The reading period this year is listed as April 1–May 1, but the Submittable link says “there are no open calls for submissions at this time.” Am I clicking the wrong link or doing something wrong? Thanks for your help!

  6. I have several pen pals behind bars who have expressed a passion for writing and shared some lovely pieces. Is there an address they can mail their art and poetry too? They don’t have the luxury of a computer or internet access to post online. Please let me know, thank you!

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