Lovely CC Readers,
Before another submission season kicks off we wanted to put together a blog post detailing what goes on our end of things when you send us work, as well as offer some advice based on what we’ve seen come through the queue. We hope this proves helpful, along with our posted guidelines. So, here we go.
Everything gets read. We promise! If we’re on the fence it will be read multiple times and discussed. We tend to read a handful of submissions per day, schedules permitting. We also limit the total number of submissions per window so that we don’t take in more than we can reasonably read/respond to within a month. Work is read in the order that it’s received, so the earlier you submit, the quicker the response. If we’ve held onto your work since early in the submission window, it likely means we’re pondering/on the fence. Accepted pieces often “speak” to one another in a way that dictates when they will be published, so we hold off on ordering decisions until we’ve read through the queue. Therefore, if we accept your work early in the January submission period, it will be closer to the end of January (early February at the latest) before we get back in touch with a publication date. If we plan to make edits, we’ll run them by you prior to accepting your work. If you ever receive a decline that says we look forward to reading more, please know that it means you made an impression and we are dead serious about wanting to read more.
We are open to submissions in January and March. We are no longer open in May. We publish flash every other week in February, March, May, and June. In April, for National Poetry Month, we publish a new prose poem each week. Author interviews are published on our blog year-round. This schedule allows us to dedicate the first half of the calendar year to running Cease, Cows, while also providing time to rest and pursue other interests in the second half, although we don’t disappear entirely. You can still find us on Instagram, where we share work from the archives and announce nominations in the fall.
We made these optional awhile back because we know how time consuming lit mag submissions can be. It therefore won’t count against you in the slightest if you opt not to write one. We do read them, in case anyone was wondering, and have been known to get rather misty-eyed whenever you say nice things about our magazine (which many folks have, so thank you for that, truly). If you do decide to include a cover letter, it’s best to keep it brief. Also try to avoid overexplaining the attached submission in your cover letter. You can tell us, for example, that you have written a story about a cow who goes to outer space, but don’t go into too much detail beyond that or we’ll start to wonder if the piece is strong enough to stand on its own. If you tend to reuse the same cover letter, double-check the name in your salutation before you hit send. We’ve received some that were addressed to staff at other journals. “Dear Editors” is your safest bet when submitting to us.
Please submit your work as a Word document (.doc/.docx) and use a readable font (Times New Roman in 12-point).
Going forward, our maximum word count for both flash and prose poetry will be 500 words. One reason for this change is that we really enjoy seeing what writers do with a limited word count. It also helps us get through the queue faster.
Our submission calls are unthemed, but we do have preferred themes (see guidelines). Favorites include dystopian and apocalyptic/post-apocalyptic. We’re also fans of fairy tale retellings and ghost stories. We are NOT fans of racist, sexist, homophobic, or otherwise offensive work containing gratuitous violence. We are also not seeking work that is written, co-written, or assisted by AI.
One thing we’ve noticed with flash subs is a tendency to include too much description and not enough story. Something has to happen to your character(s). When you’re limited to 500, every word counts, so use them wisely. If you include a dream sequence, for example, it should serve to advance the story. We suggest reading your work out loud to see if you can identify spots where it doesn’t flow as well. We also recommend reading some of our previously published pieces, but that’s generally a good idea for anywhere you plan to submit. If you’re a poet, the same advice applies, but you can also check out our 365 Prose Poems blog post to get a feel for the type of prose poems that moo-ve us.
Please do not ever worry that we’ll be upset with you for withdrawing work that’s been accepted elsewhere. If anything, we’re happy for you, and will send a message saying as much. It actually helps us when you let us know, because we can then archive your submission, which gets us through the queue quicker. Please note that you don’t need to withdraw a submission for something minor, like a spelling error. Another scenario where you don’t need to withdraw is if you’ve accidentally attached the wrong piece of writing. Just let us know and we’ll open the submission to editing so you can attach the correct one.
And that’s it! If you ever have any questions about submitting that weren’t covered here or in our guidelines, just drop us a line and we’ll do our best to get you sorted.
We look forward to reading your work!
~ CC Staff