Young Writers

We recognize that the publishing world tends to favor people who are older and have more life experience, and we believe that this model leaves out some very important voices. That is why we have decided to launch the Young Writers Initiative, a space entirely for writers and artists ages 13-18. We welcome fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and visual art of all kinds. You can read their work here.
Interested in being one of our Young Writers? See the submission guidelines and FAQ below.

We welcome submissions from anybody aged 13-18 for our Young Writers Initiative. We are particularly interested in hearing from individuals who identify with marginalized identities and who view themselves and the world through an intersectional lens. If you wish to submit and you are over the age of 18, please submit using our genre forms (during open submission windows) or to our blog

We accept submissions only through our Submittable page, and we do not charge a fee to submit for our young writers. Please submit documents in doc, docx, or rtf format.

  • Prose submissions (fiction and nonfiction) must be 4,000 words or less. If submitting flash (pieces under 1,000 words), you may submit up to 3 pieces in a single document.
  • Poetry submissions may consist of up to 5 poems in a single document as long as the entire submission is no longer than 10 pages.
  • Art submissions may consist of any type of art that can be displayed on a website. This includes audio and visual art, as well as studio arts such as painting, drawing, illustration, ceramics, etc. Photographs must be submitted in jpg or tif formats with a dpi of 300. 

Mandated Reporting 

Please be aware that, as employees of an institution of higher education in the State of Virginia, all of our editorial staff are mandated reporters. This means that if we suspect child abuse or neglect, we are legally bound to report that information to proper authorities. We do not want this information to deter anybody from submitting to us, but we also want to be upfront and honest about our obligations.

Q: What is intersectionality?

A: Intersectionality is a term that comes from sociology. It refers to the fact that all people have multiple aspects, or cross-overs, in their identities that make up who we are. These aspects are things like race, gender, sexuality, religion, where we are from, ability, family income, and education. For example, somebody could be at the intersection of being Black and male. 

Some of our identities may give us advantages or privileges in the world, and others may give us disadvantages or marginalizations. These differences lead to imbalances in who has power in the world and who doesn’t. For example, being a white person in the United States (and in many places all over the world) is an advantaged or privileged identity, and identifying as a member of the LGBTQ+ community is a disadvantaged or marginalized identity. At So to Speak, we work hard to let people who have disadvantaged or marginalized intersections in their identities speak out and share their words and art. 

Q: If I publish something with So to Speak does it still belong to me?

A: Yes! Copyright laws (the laws that protect all kinds of writing and art) protect your ownership of your work. If we publish your writing or art, we get “First North American Rights”, which just means that we are the only place where your work can appear for the first time in North America. Outside of that, you are free to do whatever you want with your work! 

Q: Can I submit if I have a privileged identity?

A: Absolutely! Most people have some parts of their identity that are privileged and others that aren’t. We want to put experiences with disadvantage and marginalization at the center of what we publish, but we also want you to share any part of yourself that you want to.

Q: I’m worried my parents will see this, what do I do? 

A: If possible, we prefer to get parent/guardian permission for publication for anybody who is not yet 18, in addition to the writer’s signature. We know, though, that it is sometimes uncomfortable or impossible to share work with parents/guardians, and if that is true for you we have other options to let you share your work without needing permission. 

Q: You ask for a cover letter. What does that mean? 

A: A cover letter is a short note that professional writers use to introduce themselves to editors. We just want you to have a chance to say hello and share a little about yourself with us. A cover letter usually includes the word count, whether you are submitting somewhere else (simultaneous submission), and a short bio. Examples of a cover letter and bio are ___

Q: What happens if you don’t accept my work? 

A: We would love nothing more than to publish everything that gets sent to us, but unfortunately we can’t make that happen. If your work is not selected, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good or that we didn’t like it. We can only take a few things at a time, and if your work isn’t one of them, you can always try again with something new! 

Q: How long will it take to hear from you? 

A: We try our best to respond to submissions quickly, but sometimes it takes us a little while. If three months have passed and you haven’t heard from us, please send us a message asking about your submission. 

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