KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
“Flash isn’t a fad, it’s an art; and while I hope people can have fun with it, its pursuit should still be taken seriously.”
— Tara L. Masih, editor of Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction
Cicada, Mosaic Art by Michael Sweere
Cicada, ceramic-tile mosaic
© by Michael Sweere

Submission Guidelines

Thank you for your interest in submitting your work to KYSO Flash.

Publisher Clare MacQueen takes to heart the advice from Poet’s Market: “Submission Guidelines are pure gold for the specific information they provide.” Thus, this page offers a vault-full of details which we hope you will find helpful.

This information is updated periodically.

These guidelines are for submissions to the KYSO Flash online journal. Please note that KYSO Flash Press is not looking for book manuscripts at this time.

Issue 9 Reading Period for General Submissions:

1 December 2017 through 31 January 2018

Launch Date: 1 March 2018

NOTE: Reading period for general submissions

may close early, depending upon number of works received.

Flash-Length Literature Needed:

Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Hybrid Forms

(See genres and forms under Item 10 below,
and the list of restrictions in Item 14.)
Please scroll down for detailed guidelines...
See also our Ongoing Call for Haibun Stories and Tanka Tales.

  1. Electronic Submissions via Submittable Only: We have no staff to process paper submissions, and emailed submissions have gotten lost in our publisher’s back-logged inbox!

    (The link to our Submittable site appears at the bottom of this page.)

  2. Please submit original, unpublished writing. If works appear anywhere else for folks to read and view, whether in print or electronic form—including on author websites, public sites such as Fictionaut and Facebook, and in blogs—then we consider them already published.

  3. Reprints of published works may be solicited by invitation.

    We do consider republishing in order to give good works the greater exposure they deserve. However, reprints generally will not be included in our annual KYSO Flash Anthology, unless our editors have nominated them for awards such as the Pushcart Prize and Best Small Fictions which allow nominations of reprints.

  4. Payment: While we cannot offer payment for rights to publish works accepted via general submissions, we do award cash prizes (and publication) to winners of our themed competitions. Plus, each contributor whose work is selected for our print anthologies will receive one complimentary copy. We may also offer contributors several copies for purchase at a “Friends and Family” discount.

  5. Visual Arts:

    •   We accept submissions of black and white as well as color artwork, up to five pieces in each submission.

    •   Images should be medium- to high-resolution.

    •   Please note that our print anthology is 6 x 9 inches, portrait orientation, and we prefer not to rotate images to fit the page.

    •   In addition, the “content column” at our website can accommodate images up to 450 pixels wide.

    •   While we will gladly consider art of all shapes, orientations, and aspect ratios, please keep our specifications in mind.

    •   We will contact artists for permission, if we later need to crop or otherwise modify artworks in order to meet our printer’s specs.

  6. Simultaneous submissions are accepted for general submissions only, but not for our competitions. Please be professional, and let us know upfront if your work is under consideration elsewhere. And please withdraw the piece right away if it’s accepted by another venue. Imagine how disappointing it can be for us to invest time and care in evaluating and choosing work, only to discover when you reply to our acceptance letter that the piece has been placed elsewhere already.

  7. Response time varies from a few days, up to four months during competitions.

    As of 5 November 2016, Duotrope listed 41 reports for KYSO Flash filed within the previous 12 months, which resulted in these response data: a minimum of zero days to respond [i.e., within hours], a mean average of 33.4 days, a median of 21 days, and a max of 86 days. We’re grateful to those who took time to submit 41 reports. And, of course, we would love to see more writers reporting to Duotrope their experiences with us during the next 12 months. At the risk of stating the obvious, more reports will increase the accuracy and usefulness of response data.

  8. Up to five works may be included within a single submission.

  9. General submissions are now free via our Submittable page. We also have “Tip-Jar Submissions (5 for $5; rapid response)” for writers and artists who would like to help support our journal by chipping in towards the cost of printing our anthologies. While a tip-jar donation does not guarantee that the submission will be accepted for publication, we do guarantee to evaluate the work(s) right away and return a yes-or-no decision within 72 hours.

  10. What We’re Looking For: Polished, evocative literary works that balance “music and meaning” (to borrow from poet Richard Hugo) within a thousand words max (or up to 2,000 words for reviews and craft essays), and using forms such as these:

    •  Prose poems

    •  Micro-fiction (up to 500 words each)

    •  Flash fiction (501–1,000 words each)

    •  CNF, essays, interviews, memoirs, etc.

    •  Reviews and craft essays (2,000 words max, including footnotes)

    •  Fables, allegories, and parables, whether light or dark, written for adults

    •  Hybrids such as haibun, haibun stories, haiga, tanka prose, and tanka tales; for specific guidelines and tips, please see Ongoing Call for Haibun Stories and Tanka Tales

    •  Ekphrastic works, in every genre we publish: fiction, nonfiction, lineated and prose poetry, hybrids such as haibun and tanka forms, and visual arts

    •  Poetry, both free verse and formal, that travels the middle way between transparency and obscurity; i.e., accessible but with a measure of mystery

    TIP: As we consider submissions to our journal, awards such as the Pushcart, Best Small Fictions, and Best of the Net loom over the decisions we make. We look for works that Knock Your Socks Off, that is, prize-worthy material. Regardless of the genre, we cherish a unique voice, fresh language, and the sly use of literary devices such as metaphor and irony. We hope to be side-swiped, poked in the ribs, and otherwise smitten by an arresting idea, a compelling narrative, an exquisite lyric, or a moving account, all of which thread the perfect line between the personal and the universal.

  11. Word counts do not include author’s bio and other identifying information, but are limited to text and title of each piece, and any footnotes from the author.

    •   Notes from the editor, publisher, and/or webmaster may appear with their own word counts, which do not affect the word-count of the piece itself. Numbers for any notes added by our editorial team will appear under the stats for each work (at the upper-right corner of the white content column of the web-page).

    •   Titles Do Matter: We occasionally receive submissions with a word count of “about a thousand,” only to discover that the author did not factor in an eight-word title (for example). Please be aware that we may decline such works, simply because we’re too busy to correspond with folks about which words to trim.

    •   For all genres except reviews and craft essays (which can run up to 2,000 words long), our thousand-word max is “set in stone” and must include title as well as text, because (1) the title is part of the work, and (2) we may want to nominate the work for competitions with strict rules about word counts.

    •   By the way, one-word titles are fine with us.

  12. Subject Matter May Be Eclectic:

    •  The mundane and the marvelous...
    •  The ordinary and the extraordinary.
    •  Verisimilar fiction, as well as the surreal in moderate measure.
    •  Think outside the catacomb now and then—surprise us with a little sunshine.

  13. Examples:

    •  Eight issues of KYSO Flash are freely available online, no subscription necessary, and reading them will give you a good idea of what we’re looking for. If you prefer to read works in print instead, we have four anthologies available.

    •  We also offer a list of Contemporary Works We Like. These pieces are published elsewhere online, and the list links directly to each one.

  14. Restrictions:

    •  No limericks, unless integral to a larger work.

    •  No gratuitous violence: remember, less is more.

    •  No “hate lit” (such as racial & gender-based rants).

    •  No children’s stories; our target readers are adults.

    •  No hard-core fantasy, horror, romance, or sci-fi, though we happily consider fabulism in moderation.

    •  We rarely publish individual haiku, senryu, tanka, or cherita. We prefer those that appear within longer forms such as haibun and tanka prose, or within haiga (the combination of poetry and visual art). Linked poems and sequences of haiku, senryu, cherita, and/or tanka will also be considered.

    •  No pornography, although we do publish erotica and works that contain explicit sexual themes and language. (Examples: Morning Wood and I Prefer Pussy by Alexis Rhone Fancher; see also This Close by Dorianne Laux, and First Sex by Sharon Olds, published elsewhere.)

    •  No evangelism, religious proselytizing, or spiritual intolerance, although spiritual themes are encouraged, and literary works from all spiritual traditions are welcomed.

    •  No works, except for critical reviews and craft essays, that contain copyrighted material created by third parties—unless also accompanied by a copy of the permission agreement between author and copyright holder. Copyrighted material refers to quotations, lines from poems, song lyrics, photographs of paintings and other artworks, etc.

      To reiterate, third-party quotations are acceptable in critical reviews and craft essays.

    •  No gratuitous use of obscenities and vulgarities: Every word counts in short forms. Often, there’s little room for profanity. Of course, an occasional “fuck!” can be quite useful and appropriate, in more ways than one. And “shit” has become all-purpose. But when such words are overused, they can weaken the work.

      For a skillful example of balanced and appropriate usage of profanity, please see Tara Laskowski’s micro-fiction, Ladies Night, which won first prize in our Triple-F Writing Challenge.

  15. Manuscript Formatting:

    •  NOTE: Author’s name and contact information should NOT appear on submitted works, but should be entered in the appropriate boxes provided by Submittable. We prefer to read “blind” and cannot do so if we recognize the name or reputation of the author.

    •  NOTE: Please do NOT include a bio with your submission. This will help ensure impartiality as your work is considered. We will ask for bios later from authors and artists whose works are accepted for publication.

    •  An 11- or 12-point, sans-serif font such as Verdana is easiest to read online. Please, no serif and script fonts. Fancy fonts fatigue the eyes and the brain, as confirmed by usability studies. However, if a specific font is integral to the layout of your work, then please send us details in a cover letter.

    •  For the most part, cover letters are not needed. Of course, you’re welcome to include a brief note if you prefer—but please do not explain your work upfront or, worse, spoil any surprises in it by giving things away in a cover letter. Upfront explanations can create bias in the reader, which may or may not work toward the writer’s favor. We strongly prefer that the work be allowed to speak for itself.

    •  Manuscripts should include at least one-inch margins.

    •  After the title of each piece in your document, please include in brackets the genre or general category (flash fiction, memoir, CNF, prose poem, haibun, etc.). If experimental or mixed, then kindly specify which genres or sub-genres form the hybrid.

    •  Manuscript pages should be numbered sequentially.

    •  Double space prose works, except for prose poems, which may be single spaced. Haibun and tanka forms may be single spaced as well.

    •  Submit all forms of lineated poetry with line breaks and other formatting as you would prefer the piece(s) to appear onscreen or in print.

  16. Our shameless ambition? For our online visitors’ viewing and reading pleasure, we aim to offer a minimum of 100 memorable works each year, or enough content to fill the soft-cover KYSO Flash Anthology each December.

    To that end, we will gladly consider thousands of submissions as we search for the editors’ Holy Grail, those gems that will make us weep and holler and laugh, or even speak in tongues, all in admiration of their creators.


So please, Knock Your Self Out and send us your best work.
We look forward to it. Thank you!

Submittable Home Page

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