Scroll down for literary magazine submissions. 

WORKSHOPS

Scroll down past our submission guidelines to view our current workshop offerings. Cleaver Magazine offers affordable online generative workshops in flash, fiction, creative nonfiction, visual narrative, poetry, and narrative collage. Our workshops are taught by Cleaver editors, university creative writing professors, and professional writers and editors. All classes are held online. Most classes are capped at 12 participants. For more information check out the workshop page on our main site. 

QUARTERLY MAGAZINE SUBMISSIONS 

Cleaver Magazine accepts submissions year-round. View our general guidelines below. We are an all-volunteer organization staffed by artists and writers who work together as promoters and stewards of literary and visual arts. 

We receive over 3000 submissions a year with an acceptance rate of slightly 7.25%. Submissions are read by our editorial team in chronological order as we make our way through the queue. The wait time for an answer will vary from a few days to several months, but be assured that we read every submission. We try to pass on editorial comments to submitters whenever possible.

From 2013 through 2019 we offered free submissions to all writers. As of January 1, 2020, to help defray the steeply rising costs of the Submittable platform (which now costs us over $1000 per year) and our web hosting platform, we are instituting a $5 submission fee. (Submittable takes a portion of each submission fee, so we receive only $3.76 from every $5.)  If the $5 fee presents a hardship, please do not hesitate to email us at editor@cleavermagazine.com and we will send you a no-fee submission link.

A voluntary $25.00 fee will guarantee an expedited answer within two weeks. Paying an expedited submission fee does not increase your chances of acceptance, but it does go a long way to help us sustain our quarterly magazine filled with thwackingly fine cutting-edge fiction, poetry, essays, and artwork. 

If you have a submission still in the queue and have not heard back from us, assume it has been held over for consideration for another issue. For inquiries, thwack us an email: editor@cleavermagazine.com. 

A few general notes:

  • We are currently not accepting art submissions.
  • For visual narrative submissions, contact editor Emily Steinberg (steinberg.emily@gmail.com)
  • Please don’t email submissions of poetry, fiction, flash, or creative nonfiction unless you have been specifically requested to do so by an editor. Unsolicited emailed submissions are deleted unread. Submissions mailed to our US Post Office box are recycled, unopened.
  • We have a separate category for solicited submissions. Please use this category only when requested by an editor.
  • Poets, if you need to withdraw single poems from a batch submission, please follow these instructions:
  1. Log into your Submittable account and go to your Submissions tab.
  2. Click on the Activity tab.
  3. In the text box tell us which poem(s) you are withdrawing.
     

GENERAL LITERARY MAGAZINE SUBMISSIONS GUIDELINES

Cleaver accepts simultaneous submissions, with immediate notification if work is accepted elsewhere. Previously published work is generally not accepted but we will occasionally consider work shared on personal blogs/websites or work previously published in a limited print-only edition.

  • Include your name and full contact information with each submission.
  • We'd like to get to know you, so include a brief bio.
  • Prose submissions should be single-spaced. We'll still read double-spaced mss, but it's harder for us to read double-spaced mss. through the Submittable interface, so please be nice to our eyes! 
  • Please include the word count for your submission at the top of the document. Fiction submissions word limit: 4000. Nonfiction word limit: 3000. 
  • Please wait to hear back from us before submitting a new unsolicited manuscript.
  • We operate on a butterknife budget and are unable to pay authors for work at this time. In return for your literary labors, we offer respectful and thwackingly stylish curation.
  • If you forget to single-space your submission or include the word count, no worries, we won't hold that against you. We're pretty nice.
  • If you would like editorial feedback, check the box and we'll include comments if they are available.
     

Our response time is generally 2-4 months for fiction, flash, and essays and 2-12 months for poetry. Occasionally we will respond much faster. We have an all-volunteer staff and many submissions, so please be patient. But if you feel that your piece has been languishing in the cue too long, just email us. Sometimes a submission gets lost in the filters.

All rights revert to the author upon publication. If you republish your work in a print or other journal, please credit Cleaver for the first publication.

If you submit to Cleaver you will automatically be added to our list for a free email subscription. If you do not wish to receive a subscription, let us know in your author's note.

Please like us on Facebook and Instagram and follow us on Twitter !

Cleaver is pleased to offer limited full-tuition scholarships to our workshops for writers living in Philadelphia, thanks, in part, to the generosity of the Philadelphia Cultural Fund and the City of Philadelphia. 

Scholarships are limited to one per workshop; one scholarship per writer per year. 

Please complete this brief form explaining your interest in the selected workshop and why this workshop will make a difference for you at this stage of your writing journey.

$20.00


 


 

Cleaver’s 2024 Short Creative Nonfiction Contest

Submissions open January 15, 2024 and close April 20, 2024

Judge: Clifford Thompson

$500 First Prize

$250 Second Prize 

$100 Third Prize

Submission Guidelines

We invite short works of nonfiction that show us where the truth can both unite and divide. Far from singular or simple, the world around us glistens with contradictions. Show us where you hold yours.


  • Theme: Duality
  • Submission length: up to 1000 words
  • Submission fee: $20
  • Do not submit previously published work.
  • Please remove your name and any other identifying information from your manuscript, including the file name.
  • All work must be submitted through our Submittable by 11:59 pm EDT on April 30. We cannot accept paper submissions.
  • Winners and finalists will be announced in August.
  • Winners will be published in the September 2024 Issue of Cleaver. Finalists may be offered publication.



 

Questions? Contact Claire Oleson, Contest Manager  

LET OTHERS CARRY IT: PUBLISHING AS PRACTICE

Instructor: Megan Stielstra

PURCHASE RECORDING

Cost: $60

Open to: All writers

“Once the work is done, it’s not yours anymore,” wrote Frank Chimero. “If the thing you make goes anywhere, it’s because other people carried it.” The choice of if, when, and how to share our work with others is a deeply personal decision, both terrifying and exhilarating. How do you get there? And once you're there, what do you… do?

This two-hour masterclass reframes publication as a vital and informative part of the writing practice, as opposed to rejection/acceptance roulette. How can our unique publication goals influence the rewriting process? How does the consideration of a wider audience take our work to the next level and when should we leave those (scary and often very loud) outside voices at the door? And how can we demystify the nuts-and-bolts of submitting—finding the right literary journals or publishing houses, writing a solid cover letter, connecting with editors—and get back to what we’re all here to do: carry each other’s stories.

Megan Stielstra is the author of three collections: Everyone Remain Calm, Once I Was Cool, and The Wrong Way to Save Your Life, the Nonfiction Book of the Year from the Chicago Review of Books. Her work appears in the Best American Essays, New York Times, The Believer, Poets & Writers, Tin House, Longreads, Guernica, LitHub, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. A longtime company member with 2nd Story, she has told stories for National Public Radio, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Steppenwolf Theatre, and regularly with the Paper Machete live news magazine at the Green Mill. She teaches creative nonfiction at Northwestern University and is an editor at Northwestern University Press.

WRITING ADVANCED BY CATEGORIES: TURNING OUR OBSESSIONS INTO STORIES

Instructor: Beth Kephart

Recorded masterclass, instant access

Cost: $60

Open to: All fiction and nonfiction writers, working at any stage of their careers

Writing, let’s face it, is hard. Life gets in the way. Discipline brings us back to our desks but so, in the end, do our obsessions. In this two-hour, prompt-rich workshop, we’ll be thinking about how to make the most of our obsessions in our writing practice and in our storylines. We’ll be looking to writers like Michelle Zauner, Will Dowd, Robin Wall Kimmerer, Kate Zambreno, and Claire-Louse Bennett for inspiration and to obsessions like food, weather, the natural world, and books. We’ll transform lists into metaphors and thru-lines. We’ll launch sentences. We’ll leave the session with a better understanding of what sparks us as we write, how our own sparks can become the stuff that galvanizes readers, and some brand-new passages.

Beth Kephart is the award-winning author of nearly 40 books in multiple genres, an award-winning teacher, co-founder of Juncture Workshops, and a book artist. Beth’s newest book, the acclaimed My Life in Paper: Adventures in Ephemera, sprang from her own obsession with paper. Beth’s most recent craft books are We Are the Words: The Master Memoir Class and Consequential Truths: On Writing the Lived Life. More at bethkephartbooks.com and bind-arts.com.

Show Us Your Best: A Guide to Creative Writing MFA Applications

Instructor: Jess Sifla

Date and Time: Sunday, March 24, 2-4pm ET on Zoom

Can't make it on March 24? No problem. A recording will be sent to all registrants.

Cost: $60

Open to: All writers, especially those interested in applying for an MFA

This two-hour masterclass will equip aspiring writers with the skills, insights, and strategies to craft compelling MFA applications. Led by a writer with a wealth of knowledge in the MFA application process, this class is tailored to enhance your writing portfolio and illustrate what creative writing programs are looking for.

In this class, you will:

● Gain a comprehensive understanding of the MFA application process, including key

deadlines, program structures, and admission criteria.

● Learn the critical elements of a compelling personal statement.

● Explore techniques to connect your personal narrative with your artistic goals.

● Understand the importance of solid recommendation letters and how to approach

potential recommenders.

● Get insights on how to guide your recommenders to highlight your strengths as a writer.

● Receive guidance on selecting the right MFA programs for your writing goals.

There will be time for a Q&A near the end of the class.

Jess Silfa is an Afro-Latine writer from the South Bronx. They graduated with an MFA from Vanderbilt University and are currently an Albert C. Yates Fellow in the Ph.D. program at the University of Cincinnati. Jess is President of the Disabled and D/deaf Writers Caucus and has been published or has work forthcoming in ANMLY, beestung, Transition Magazine, and others.

BEHIND THE COVERS: PUBLISHING YOUR BOOK

Instructor: Anni Liu

Date and Time: Sunday, April 28, 2-4pm ET on Zoom

Can't make it on April 28? No problem. A recording will be sent to all registrants.

Cost: $60

Open to: All writers, especially those seeking to publish a book.

During this two-hour masterclass, you will learn about the book publishing process. Guided by a prose editor at Graywolf Press who is also an award-winning poet, this class will provide insight into the journey of publication –  from both the writer’s and the editor’s perspective – as well as  a rare opportunity to ask your questions directly to a top editor at an important and innovative publishing house.  Topics will include: pitching agents, working with an editor, and book events like launches and readings. You will leave this class armed with information and a greater understanding of how book publishing works.

Anni Liu is the author of Border Vista (Persea Books), which won the Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize and was a New York Times Best Poetry Book of 2022. She’s the recipient of an Undocupoets Fellowship, a Gregory Djanikian Scholarship from The Adroit Journal, and residencies at Civitella Ranieri and the Anderson Center. She’s an editor at Graywolf Press.


Cleaver Masterclasses 


Can't Join Live? Replays Available!

POINT OF VIEW AS PLAY AND PRACTICE
Taught by Sheree L. Greer
Sunday, May 28
2-4 pm ET on Zoom

In this single-session workshop, writers will explore point of view as both a craft element and an opportunity for play and practice. Through interactive readings, discussion, and writing exercises, writers will examine point of view as a portal of exploration in their prose and their creative practice.

DELUSIONS OF GRAMMAR
Taught by Sara Levine
Sunday, June 25
2-4 pm ET on Zoom

“All I know about grammar is its infinite power,” Joan Didion wrote, and if that sends a shiver of curiosity up and down your spine, welcome to my workshop! This one-day class is a high-energy exploration of the rhetoric of grammar: how to think strategically about form. We’ll look at how writers make decisions when they confront a sentence: the patterns sentences typically follow and the different ways clauses hang together. By the class’s end, you’ll be able to diagnose what makes a sentence boring and tweak it until it has more suspense than a Netflix thriller. 

YOU, INC.: BUILDING YOUR WRITING BRAND
Taught by Jen Mathy
Sunday, July 23
2-4 pm ET on Zoom

This masterclass will demystify marketing. We’ll talk about your small-business “must-haves,” use literary examples to illustrate the differences among social media platforms, and look at best practices across the literary community. We’ll do exercises to get you thinking about yourself as a brand and discuss ways to weave brand-building into your writing practice.

URGENCY AND THE PERSONAL ESSAY
Taught by Megan Stielstra
Sunday, August 20
2-4 pm ET on Zoom

This lightning-bolt session begins with the gut. What you need to tell; the memories, fascinations, and questions that live not in your head but your bones. Then: craft—how to tell our personal stories in ways that are equally urgent to an audience. Pulling from both literary and oral storytelling traditions, we’ll engage in activities (adapted for Zoom!) to get our experiences out of the body and onto the page, encouraging risk and discovery and examining literary craft in new ways. How does telling a story aloud heighten our understanding of its structure? How does the presence of an immediate audience influence the rewriting process? What does it mean to build an individual writing process that will sustain us without the support of a class? 



URGENCY AND THE PERSONAL ESSAY
Taught by Megan Stielstra

$60 a la carte single recorded workshop
This lightning-bolt session begins with the gut. What you need to tell; the memories, fascinations, and questions that live not in your head but your bones. Then: craft—how to tell our personal stories in ways that are equally urgent to an audience. Pulling from both literary and oral storytelling traditions, we’ll engage in activities (adapted for Zoom!) to get our experiences out of the body and onto the page, encouraging risk and discovery and examining literary craft in new ways. How does telling a story aloud heighten our understanding of its structure? How does the presence of an immediate audience influence the rewriting process? What does it mean to build an individual writing process that will sustain us without the support of a class?
Writers and storytellers at all levels are welcome. The work we’ll do is useful both in generating new material and digging deeper into stories you’ve been wrestling with for years. Need to jumpstart an ongoing project? Need to finalize a manuscript for submission/publication? Need to get this story out of your body so you don't have to carry it anymore? Let’s make it happen.



 

 

Megan Stielstra is the author of three collections: Everyone Remain Calm, Once I Was Cool, and The Wrong Way to Save Your Life, the Nonfiction Book of the Year from the Chicago Review of Books. Her work appears in the BET American Essays, New York Times, The Believer, Poets & Writers, Tin House, Longreads, Guernica, LitHub, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. A longtime company member with 2nd Story, she has told stories for National Public Radio, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Steppenwolf Theatre, and regularly with the Paper Machete live news magazine at the Green Mill. She teaches creative nonfiction at Northwestern University and is an editor-at-large with Northwestern University Press.

 

YOU, INC.: BUILDING YOUR WRITING BRAND
Taught by Jen Mathy

$60 a la carte single workshop
You write. You revise. And with a little perseverance, you publish. Now it’s up to the journal to attract readers. Your piece will, naturally, reach the desk of a literary agent who is brought to tears by the quiet restraint of your unquestionable genius. She immediately lands you a book deal at a Big 5 publisher who dedicates bajillions (yes, bajillions) to market your work. There’s a book tour, a Times review, and a viral video of Oprah personally – and lovingly – applying stickers to your book jacket. Neat!
The reality is that journals, presses, and publishers often lack the resources to market your work. A successful writer needs to think of themselves as an entrepreneur, a business partner, a brand, and a literary citizen. It’s daunting for many writers, but promoting yourself and your work can be accomplished though small, mindful tasks. And, it may lead to freelance assignments, commissions, teaching gigs, agents, even that book deal.
This masterclass will demystify marketing. We’ll talk about your small-business “must-haves,” use literary examples to illustrate the differences among social media platforms, and look at best practices across the literary community. We’ll do exercises to get you thinking about yourself as a brand and discuss ways to weave brand-building into your writing practice.
Participants will be emailed brand-building checklists and handouts at the end of the class.


 Jen Mathy is a marketing communications consultant in social media, PR, and advertising. She was VP of advertising and brand management for Morgan Stanley, brand manager for Discover Card, and in university relations for NorthwETern University. She managed social media for Bennington Writing Seminars, and served as a consultant for both the Hurston-Wright Foundation and the Maurice Sendak Foundation. She currently manages social media for Cleaver Magazine. Jen has an MFA in Writing from Bennington College. She has written stories for The Chicago Tribune and WGN-TV, among others, and wrote the poetry and prose for “An Expat Journey in Singapore,” a book of photography about the island nation.

POINT OF VIEW AS PLAY AND PRACTICE
Taught by Sheree L. Greer
$60 a la carte single workshop
In this single-session workshop, writers will explore point of view as both a craft element and an opportunity for play and practice. Through interactive readings, discussion, and writing exercises, writers will examine point of view as a portal of exploration in their prose and their creative practice.
——————


 ShereeL. Greer is a writer living in Tampa, Florida. She is the author of two novels, Let the Lover Be and A Return to Arms, and a short story collection, Once and Future Lovers. Her work has been published in LezTalk Anthology, VerySmartBrothas, Autostraddle, The Windy City Times, and the Windy City Queer Anthology: Dispatches from the Third Coast. Sheree is a VONA/VOICES alum, Astraea grantee, as well as a Yaddo and Ragdale Fellow. Her essay, "Bars" published in Fourth Genre Magazine, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and notably named in Best American Essays 2019.

DELUSIONS OF GRAMMAR
Taught by Sara Levine
$60 a la carte single workshop
“All I know about grammar is its infinite power,” Joan Didion wrote, and if that sends a shiver of curiosity up and down your spine, welcome to my workshop! This one-day class is a high-energy exploration of the rhetoric of grammar: how to think strategically about form. We’ll look at how writers make decisions when they confront a sentence: the patterns sentences typically follow and the different ways clauses hang together. By the class’s end, you’ll be able to diagnose what makes a sentence boring and tweak it until it has more suspense than a Netflix thriller.
What you’ll get from the class:
● One immersive real-time meeting with your instructor and cohort
● A new sensitivity to grammar and how it can serve you as a writer
● Detailed explanations of how to mess around with grammar on the ground (as opposed to
memorizing rules about split infinitives or dangling participles)
● Short and never tedious exercises to move the grammar lessons out of your head and into
your hand
● A Further Reading List, should you decide to fully embrace your grammatical power




 Sara Levine is the author of the novel Treasure Island!!! and the short story collection Short Dark Oracles. She has a Ph.D. from Brown University, where she was a Mellon Fellow in the Humanities, and has taught at the University of Iowa as well as The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her nonfiction has been anthologized in The Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction: 1970 to the Present; Essayists on the Essay: Montaigne to Our Time; and Understanding the Essay. You can find out more about her at sara-levine.com


Blue typewriter 

SHORT STORY CLINIC
with Andrea Caswell

One-on-one personal feedback for your story. 

Fiction writer and editor Andrea Caswell will read your short story (up to 5000 words) and offer constructive written feedback regarding what’s working, what needs attention, and how to improve in key craft areas. Feedback will be returned within 21 days; expedited turnaround also available. You may add an optional video conference with Andrea to discuss your work further and ask questions about the next steps for revision.

Submission Guidelines
-Story Clinic is open to all fiction writers
-5000 words maximum
-You may include specific questions for feedback in the cover letter section when you submit
-Category may close if editors’ capacity is reached; it will reopen the following month

Cost
-One short story 1K – 3000 words: $100
-One short story 3K – 5000 words: $150
-Optional 30-minute video or phone conference: add $50
-Expedited two-week turnaround: add $50
 
For more details see: https://www.cleavermagazine.com/workshops/



Creative Nonfiction Clinic

With Sydney Tammarine

Here is your opportunity for one-on-one editorial feedback on a work-in-progress.

Whether you have an essay near completion to submit to journals or programs, or have written a draft and don’t know what to do next, an experienced editor will offer the guidance and encouragement necessary to realize your best work.

Creative nonfiction writer and editor Sydney Tammarine will read your essay (up to 4000 words) and offer constructive written feedback regarding what’s working, what needs attention, and how to improve in key craft areas. Feedback will be returned within 21 days; expedited turnaround is also available. You may add an optional video conference with Sydney to discuss your work further and ask questions about next steps for revision.

Submission Guidelines
- Creative Nonfiction Clinic is open to all nonfiction writers
- 5500 words maximum
- Please double-space your manuscript and use Times New Roman or a similar font
- You may include specific questions for feedback in the cover letter section when you submit
- Category may close if editors’ capacity is reached; it will reopen the following month

Note: this is a paid service. If you wish to submit your work for consideration for publication, please use the Creative Nonfiction category.

Cost

$100 for up to 2500 words

$150 for up to 4000 words

$200 for up to 5500 words

$50 add-on for a 30-minute Zoom consultation

$50 add-on for an expedited 2-week turnaround

Please upload documents in any genre only if your work was personally requested by one of the Cleaver editors. In the cover letter field, let us know which editor solicited your work and include a brief bio statement.

$5.00
$5.00

Submit up to 5 poems in a single document. If you need to withdraw one or more poems in the batch, don't email our editor. 

Instructions for single-poem withdraws:

1. Log into your Submittable account and go to your Submissions tab.

2. Click on the Activity tab. 

3. In the text box tell us which poem(s) you are withdrawing.


$5.00
$5.00


Submit one story up to 4000 words. Manuscripts should be single-spaced. Literary fiction only. 

$5.00

Submit micro-fiction (up to 700 words). Manuscripts should be single-spaced. 

$5.00

  Submit micro nonfiction or short essays (up to 700 words). Manuscripts should be single-spaced. 

$5.00


Submit creative nonfiction) up to 3000 words. Manuscripts should be single-spaced

(Craft essays submissions should be emailed directly to editor Lisa Romeo. More information here.)

$25.00

You may pay a voluntary submission fee to expedite our reading of your manuscript. Payment does not increase your chances for acceptance, but it does go a long way to help us sustain our quarterly magazine filled with thwackingly fine cutting-edge fiction, poetry, essays, and artwork.

$25 receive an expedited reading with a guaranteed response (accept or decline) within two weeks.


Submit stories up to 4000 words. Manuscripts should be single-spaced




$25.00

You may pay a voluntary submission fee to expedite our reading of your manuscript. Payment does not increase your chances for acceptance, but it does go a long way to help us sustain our quarterly magazine filled with thwackingly fine cutting-edge fiction, poetry, essays, and artwork.

$25 submissions will receive an expedited reading with a guaranteed response (accept or decline) within two weeks (generally faster and often in less than one week.) 


Submit micro-fiction or short essays (up to 900 words). Manuscripts should be single-spaced. 


$25.00

You may pay a voluntary submission fee to expedite our reading of your manuscript. Payment does not increase your chances for acceptance, but it does go a long way to help us sustain our quarterly magazine filled with thwackingly fine cutting-edge fiction, poetry, essays, and artwork.

$25 submissions will receive an expedited reading with a guaranteed response (accept or decline) within two weeks (generally faster and often in less than one week.) 

Submit creative nonfiction) up to 3000 words. Manuscripts should be single-spaced.

$25.00

You may pay a voluntary submission fee to expedite our reading of your manuscript. Payment does not increase your chances for acceptance, but it does go a long way to help us sustain our quarterly magazine filled with thwackingly fine cutting-edge fiction, poetry, essays, and artwork.

Paid expedited  submissions will receive an expedited reading with a guaranteed response (accept or decline) within two weeks (generally faster and often in less than one week.) 

Submit up to 5 poems in a single document. If you need to withdraw one or more poems in the batch:

1. Log into your Submittable account and go to your Submissions tab.

2. Click on the Activity tab. 

3. In the text box tell us which poem(s) you are withdrawing.

$10.00 submissions will receive a response within two weeks. 

Do you love to read contemporary fiction? Poetry? Essays? Are you a literary tastemaker? Cleaver needs readers and editors whose sensibilities click with our own to help us thwack! through our growing submissions pile and to copyedit and proofread the pieces we accept. 


Editorial interns read and vote on submissions, help us proofread the issue before it goes live, and have the opportunity to work with a senior Cleaver editor to write a book review for publication. Time commitment: 5-10 hours/week. We can work with your college or university to provide academic credit for a semester-long internship at Cleaver. At this time, we are most in need of prose (fiction and creative nonfiction) readers.


We consider editorial internship applications on a rolling basis. Fall internships run September–December, spring internships January–April, and summer internships May–August. If you have not yet received a response to your application, it is under consideration for the upcoming term.


If you are past the "intern" stage and would like to be considered for our editorial staff, use the editorial internship application, but let us know in your cover letter that you are applying to be part of our regular staff. We often ask potential regular staff to complete an internship with us first, just to make sure we are a good fit for one another.


Here's how to apply:

  • Upload your resume and a creative writing sample in the main genre you'd like to work with. Let us know other relevant skills including your familiarity with web platforms, and other tools. (Don't worry, technical savvy is not a prerequisite, but if you have it, we're thrilled to know.)
  • Write a cover letter telling us about yourself and why you'd like to be on the Cleaver team. Be sure to explain which genres you're comfortable evaluating and editing.


Cleaver Magazine