Frequently Asked Questions
about Blithe House Quarterly's submission guidelines and general policies answered, to the best of their abilities,
Most recent revision:
Index of questions:
A: Prose narrative that describes events that have not actually occurred. Fiction may be based on real-life experiences, and may have real-life historical events occurring in the background, but it is not literally true; no reasonably experienced reader could mistake it for a literally true narrative. Thus fiction excludes all forms of memoir, autobiography, and prose journalism.
Remember, the test of fiction is whether it sounds like fiction. If it sounds like memoir, autobiography or journalism, then as far as we're concerned, that's what it is.
A: We have a charter that exclusively sponsors short fiction. That excludes poetry.
A: A prose narrative between 1000 and 10000 words in length.
Q: What do you mean by "unpublished"? I want to submit "insert story title here" -- it saw print in [a student publication in college/an out-of-print anthology/another website/'zine/a literary magazine with a two-hundred copy print run] and I was told that it doesn't count as a publication.
A: It's our policy that if it saw distribution in any medium, it's been published -- UNLESS you didn't sign an agreement and no rights were exchanged between you and the distributor of the material. Then, it's unpublished.
If it's self-published, we consider it published since you distributed it yourself.
It's our policy that a publication's a publication's a publication, no matter if it's dead tree or electronic, no matter if it has a circulation of 20,000 or a circulation of 20. That includes magazines and sites that make you sign an agreement before claiming not to be a publication but distributing your material for people's perusal with first dibs for future publication.
A rule of thumb: if you have to ask this question (or some other variation that includes the phrase "it saw print"), it's probably been published. If you agreed to exchange rights for distribution , it's definitely published.
A: It's unpublished. Unless you signed an agreement for it to see distribution. AOL claims to have copyright ownership via acceptance of Terms Of Service.
A: It 's our policy that it doesn't count as unpublished. Material that's revised at any length or depth does not magically become unpublished if it's already seen print in one form or another. The work remains bound by whatever agreements you've originally made for it.
A: We consider unpublished short fiction for publication. If it's been published, we won't consider it.
There are long and complicated legal reasons for this unpublished thing. Say, when you first published the material you've submitted for reprint, you may have already signed away all your electronic rights to it, and we have no way of knowing that. It's our policy to avoid complications, so we stick with unpublished material.
A: That's unpublished -- it has not seen print -- and perfectly acceptable as a submission to BHQ.
A: First Serial Rights -- all rights return to the author on publication. That's the traditional agreement between authors and literary magazines. We ask authors to sign a simple contract that says:
"My short story "[title of story]" is unpublished; I grant First Serial Rights to Blithe House Quarterly for publication in a future issue.
You don't owe us anything after that, and vice-versa.
We do ask, as a cross-promotional courtesy, that you mention that the work first saw print in Blithe House Quarterly on the acknowledgements page of any future reprints. Whatever else you do with the work is entirely up to you.
Work that first saw print in BHQ has seen reprint in MEN ON MEN, BEST LESBIAN LOVE STORIES and BEST AMERICAN GAY FICTION, not to mention individual short story collections, so there's a precedent for the work having a life off-site.
A: This rights category means that, basically, you, the author, give us, a serial periodical, first dibs at distributing this material for the consumption of others, and once that's achieved, that's the end of the agreement. We do not ask for follow-up or anthology rights. We will e-mail you if the opportunity comes for your work to be nominated for reprint in secondary serial or anthology publications; you should not feel obligated to accept this opportunity if it comes by.
A: Yes. But we only consider novel excerpts under the following conditions:
Basically, we'll consider novel excerpts if a reader can't tell that's what they are.
A: Because, frankly, we're not especially knowledgeable about short short fiction as a form.
For short shorts, try Doorknobs and Bodypaint -- tell them BHQ sent ya, they're friends of ours.
A: Because by then it's an unwieldy length for an ordinary webpage.
A: You betcha. You do not need previous publications in order to see print in Blithe House Quarterly. One or two authors in any given quarterly issue make their debut in BHQ.
A: Because it takes us about three times the labor and time to code a page that has no word processing file formatting. We very rarely accept material that's submitted in an unsuitable file format because we REALLY have to love the piece to go through all the hassle of reformatting every single detail of the text (italics, paragraph breaks, etc) into HTML.
(Those of you whom we've published despite file format problems should feel really flattered right now.)
A: Important enough that we eventually stop humoring submissions from repeat text file offenders. We just pass on them unread. We think of file format the same way paper editors think of SASEs -- a formal necessity whose absence liberates the editor of the obligation of consideration and/or response.
A: Microsoft Word or Rich-Text Format. Guest-editors have their own file preferences, and they will let you know what they need in their solicitations.
A: We prefer literary fiction.
But we'll let you know that, right now, we'd like to see:
The following types of material sometimes get our attention, but we get so much of them that they have to meet a very high standard:
A rule of thumb: read what we've published so far. Then send us something totally unlike it.
We like to be surprised.
A. Our piles of submissions grow higher every year. What would you do? We read each piece up to the point where we're certain that it's got too many problems for us to accept, or until we're bored or disgusted, or until we discover happily that the writer has kept us engaged all the way to the end. We begin reading each piece with an open mind and in a calm environment, but given that, it's the writer's job to hold our attention.
A: We cannot pay our writers (or ourselves, for that matter). But we make up for it by overcompensating you in readership, prestige, promotion, marketing, publicity, and design -- and *all* we ask for is First Serial Rights. We really work for the privilege of publishing you. You have no idea.
One quarterly issue of Blithe House Quarterly has more circulation than 1) one issue of OUT Magazine and 2) one whole year's circulation for Conjunctions' online site.
Our name's well-known in the literary magazine community, so your publication here might help you gain the attention of an acquiring editor at another magazine or anthology.
Just about every gay and lesbian book, magazine and newspaper editor is on the mailing list for the announcement of new BHQ issues. Literary agents from legitimate agencies have contacted us to inquire after an author we've published.
Even straight people read us! They often write to us to let us know that we're the first chance they've ever had to read gay fiction, and they were surprised to like it.
No, BHQ can't deliver a paycheck for your work, and if that really bothers you, well...check out just how much our distinguished competition pays. [OK, here it is, just so you know: 1) nothing 2) nothing 3) 20 bucks and two copies (if they get around to sending them to you), and 4) two copies.] We do deliver in countless other ways.
A: Not much:
A: Since that's a position that entails
it makes guest-editor selection almost entirely based on who we know. Since some of these qualities only come to shine by way of acquaintance, it's unlikely we will accept guest-editorship requests from people we don't know or haven't heard of in some editorial capacity.
You do not need to know us to submit and/or see print in Blithe House Quarterly.
A: We just ask people we've noticed have potential as BHQ editors -- and they say yes or no. If guest-editors have a specific editorial focus they want to play out (say, queer writers from the American Northwest or queer writers from the African Diaspora), that's excellent, but it isn't a requirement.
A: If you have any questions not featured in this FAQ, please leave us a message at BHQ's Discussion and Message Boards Forum at Delphi. We may post your question in a future update of the BHQ-FAQ.