Please read our submissions guidelines carefully before submitting your work.
Our rates for published stories:
- $50 for published featured-author stories
- $20 for stories published on our &More page
- $10 for poems we publish
For submissions to Bethlehem Writers Roundtable, please read the following carefully. If you have any questions before submitting your work, please contact us.
Your submissions must meet the following criteria:
- We only accept work from authors 18 years of age or older.
- We only accept work that has not been previously published. This requirement excludes from eligibility any work that has appeared anywhere in print, electronic formats, or online, including on personal or crowd editing blogs or websites.
- We accept work in most genres of fiction, as well as memoir and poetry.
- We are a secular literary journal and seek non-sectarian work.
- We do not accept essays or other nonfiction genres.
- We do not accept horror or erotica. This means no graphic violence, no overt sexuality, and no hard expletives. We are looking for G, PG, or PG-13 rated material according to the MPAA.
- We welcome excellent writing from diverse voices and experiences regardless of race, gender or gender identity, sexual orientation, nationality, ethnicity, religion, disability, or age (except that authors must be 18 years of age or older). In keeping with our standards of inclusivity, we reserve the right to refuse to publish work that might be harmful to any member of a marginalized group.
- We only accept work written in the English language.
- Please submit only one story or one poem for consideration at a time. Do not submit more than one story or poem until after you receive a final response to any prior submission. Once you receive either an acceptance or rejection, you are welcome to submit a different work to us.
- Your manuscript length must be 2,000 words or fewer (not including the title, author name, or contact information).
- Submissions must be sent using the form provided on this page.
- Please include your full name and email address, preferred pronouns, title, and word count in the appropriate boxes.
- You must check the box at the bottom of the Submission/Contact form indicating that you have read and accept our conditions for publication (see below) before your submission will be reviewed by our editors.
- No fee is required to submit your work to Bethlehem Writers Roundtable.
Before you submit your work to us, please note our conditions for publication:
1. If we accept your work for publication, you grant Bethlehem Writers Roundtable first serial publication rights to your work, and permission to retain it in the magazine’s archives and/or to publish it in any print publication of a single issue or a compilation of issues of Bethlehem Writers Roundtable. In consideration for this grant of rights, Bethlehem Writers Roundtable will publish your work in its online magazine. The copyright of the work remains the property of the author, who, one month following publication of the work by Bethlehem Writers Roundtable, is free to publish the work elsewhere. Upon any subsequent publication, the author will ensure that work is accompanied by the following statement: “This work was originally published in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable, the magazine of the Bethlehem Writers Group, LLC.”
2. Authors of stories published through our regular submissions process will receive $50.00 USD for featured authors, or $20.00 USD for stories published on our &More page and $10.00 USD for poems. (N.B.: no payment will be made for stories published because they have won or placed in any Bethlehem Writers Roundtable Short Story Award competition, nor to stories written by members of Bethlehem Writers Group.)
3. By submitting to the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable, you certify that you are eighteen (18) years of age or older, the work is solely your own, original work, it is unpublished in any electronic or print format, it does not encroach on any trademark or copyright, and it does not libel or defame any entity living or dead. You acknowledge that using artificial intelligence can lead to plagiarism for which you will be held fully and solely accountable. You will indemnify and hold Bethlehem Writers Group, LLC harmless from any claims, causes of action, damages, or judgments arising out of publishing your submission.
4. If you are selected as the “Featured Author” in one of our editions, you will also have the opportunity to list your “Top Ten . . .” on a topic of your choice, subject to the editorial approval of Bethlehem Writers Roundtable. This is an opportunity to tell readers a little more about yourself or your writing by selecting a topic that highlights your interests.
5. Bethlehem Writers Roundtable reserves the right to refuse to publish any story, memoir, poem, author bio, or “Top Ten . . .” that we, in our sole judgment and discretion, determine does not meet our needs or standards, or that has content unsuitable for our readers.
6. Please note that Bethlehem Writers Roundtable reserves the right to make minor copy edits to submissions. Any offer of publication is contingent upon satisfactory editing when deemed necessary by the editors of Bethlehem Writers Roundtable. Even so, submitted work that is not well edited or copy edited prior to submission will not be considered for publication.
7. Bethlehem Writers Roundtable will make every effort to notify authors of our decisions about whether we wish to publish their manuscripts within two months of submission. Many authors will hear much sooner.
8. Simultaneous submissions are permissible, but if your work is accepted for publication elsewhere, please notify us immediately (using our Submission/Contact form) to remove your work from further consideration.
9. If you withdraw a manuscript from consideration or we decline to publish a manuscript, please do not submit it again. Please feel free, however, to submit your other unpublished work that meets the criteria set out above.
Upcoming Roundtable themes:
We are now closed for submissions. We will reopen for submissions on January 1, 2024, and close on March 31, 2024, with accepted submissions to run in our Summer 2024 issue.
The theme for that issue will be: Dog Days of Summer: Lazy stories . . . or dog stories!
N.B. All themes broadly interpreted.
If accepted, your story will be placed in the most appropriate issue as determined by the Chief Editor.
Earlier submission within the submission window greatly improves the chance of publication.
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What we are seeking:
For Prose (as described by editor Jerry McFadden)
We are an “old fashioned” editorial crew: we love stories. We admire great writing; we swoon at beautifully worded sentences and lovely descriptions, and chuckle at clever metaphors–but we always choose a great story over all of that. We constantly receive great character sketches, serious mood pieces, wonderfully written scenes that in the end are just wonderful scenes or elegant reminiscences.… And we judge all of this by one simple standard–where is the story?
What’s a story? A character (or characters) that we care for (or hate) in a conflict (plot) that leads to a plausible resolution that has an emotional effect on the character and on the readers. For us, a terrific story trumps even superior writing. The writing quality may be less outstanding than in the character sketches, mood pieces, scenes, or reminiscences, if the story pulls us in and makes us root for the character as he/she wrestles through a conflict.
This does not disqualify memoirs or reminiscences, as long as they are told as a story–a real-life story. You are the character fighting through a conflict which changed you somehow. If this hadn’t happened, you wouldn’t be trying to tell us about it.
So send us a story, real or imagined. Give us great writing, but more important, give us a great story. We will love you for it.
For Poetry (as described by editor Paul Weidknecht)
We enjoy reading poetry at the Roundtable and are intrigued as to how poets translate their work from the various themes we offer. We understand the nature of much poetry is personal, often highly so, making the process of what goes into accepting or rejecting a poem difficult to define. Poets might rightfully ask, “What makes a good (publishable) poem?” To which editors might deliver the easy answer, “We know it when we read it.” Of course, that answer is too slippery to be of any value, so here are some observations about poetry and how poets might refine their work:
While prose can stand a degree of dilution, poetry is concentrated. From speaking with poets at writer’s conferences, I’ve heard that word—concentrated—come up time and again. In a poem, possibly due to its brevity compared to a short story, readers roll around the ‘flavor’ of words in their minds, sort of like a literary sommelier. Word number and choice are important, as poetry readers (read: editors) don’t skim.
Poems addressing emotional issues, i.e., the tragedy of losing a loved one, are most effective when they reach out, causing the reader to reflect in a similar way, and hopefully, compelling multiple readings. A silent nod by a reader might be one of the best compliments a poet can receive.
Other items of which poetry is fine; its originality is refreshing—as long as you keep the interest of someone reading that abstractness. When a poem becomes too much of a puzzle, reading it becomes a chore. A poem is not a piece of flash fiction with line breaks; short stories do that better. Read the poem out loud. How does it sound? Does it stumble along under the leaden awkwardness of worn phrases or does it ascend in the inspiration of inventive language and imagery?
Perhaps the two most important rules regarding the creation of poetry, or any other piece of creative writing, are the most obvious to understand and simplest to do: keep rewriting your own work; keep reading others’ work.
Common reasons submissions are not accepted for publication:
We are interested in the work of emerging, as well as established, writers, but our standards for publication are high. We accept only a small percentage of the works submitted. The most common reasons submissions are not accepted for publication include:
- No real story (e.g., an essay, diatribe, anecdote, scene, stream of consciousness, or snippet from a longer work)
- Overused themes without a fresh approach (e.g., death of a parent, child, or other close associate)
- Too much “telling” as opposed to “showing”
- Too much elaborate or ornate language when not called for in the story (e.g., trying too hard to sound “literary”)
- Multiple typos or spelling errors, misuse of words, continuity issues, lack of editing, copyediting, or proofreading, etc.
- Poetry without emotion, imagery, musicality, or language.
- Not following submission guidelines