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New Writer’s Checklist for Submitting to Capsule Stories

Checklist for Submitting to Capsule Stories

At Capsule Stories, we love working with new and emerging writers. Some of our contributors had their first piece of writing published in Capsule Stories! We encourage new and emerging writers to submit writing to us because we will read it carefully, treat you well, and work with you on edits if we decide to publish your writing. If you’re new to submitting your writing to literary magazines, here is a checklist for submitting to Capsule Stories.

1. Read our submission guidelines and theme description.

Go to our Submissions page and read all of our guidelines. Pay attention to our word count maximum (3,000 words), how many submissions you can send at once (one category at a time; one story or essay, or five poems), and what to include in your submission. Also read our theme description for the edition you want to submit to.

See if your writing is a good fit for our vibe. If you’d like to read some of the pieces we’ve previously published, you can find excerpts of the writing from our editions on our Instagram feed.

2. Think of a story, essay, or poem(s) you’ve already written that fits our theme.

Look back through your drafts and writings to find a story, essay, or up to five poems that fit with the theme. The closer they fit with our theme, the better! We also like the pieces to be set in the season of the edition, if possible. So if you’re submitting to Capsule Stories Winter 2020 Edition, we’d love writing that is set in winter.

3. Or write something new!

If you don’t have a piece of writing that fits our theme, write something new. We love it when writers use our theme description as inspiration for a new story, poem, or essay. Our theme description can be a great writing prompt to write about something you normally wouldn’t write about.

4. Prepare your Word document.

Many literary magazines request that you put your submission into a specific manuscript format, like this. You don’t need to format your submission in a particular way for Capsule Stories. You can simply put the title and your name at the top of the piece and we’ll be happy! All other information (like bio, email, etc.) can go in the email. We don’t need you to put the word count either, as we can easily see it when we open the document.

If you don’t have Microsoft Word, you can prepare your submission in Google Docs and then download it as a Word doc. You should then be able to upload that Word doc into your email submission.

5. Write a third-person bio.

Capsule Stories, like many literary magazines and journals, asks submitters to include a brief biographical statement with their submission. This bio typically says a little about who you are, maybe where you went to school or what your job is, what you enjoy writing, and where you’ve been published. It’s okay if you haven’t been published before! Here are a few sample biographies:

  • Emma Lang graduated from the University of Iowa with a BA in journalism. She currently works for a newspaper and loves to write fiction and poetry in her spare time. She enjoys playing with her dog, Max, and watching scary movies late at night.
  • Ben Jones (he/him) is a writer from California. His work has appeared in perhappened magazine, Kissing Dynamite, Taco Bell Quarterly, and elsewhere. Find him on Twitter at @BenAJones1992.
  • Cass Smith is an eighteen-year-old poet based in London, UK. Most of their work surrounds nature and weather. Their work is forthcoming in Potpourri and Moonchild Magazine. You can read their work at

For more examples of biographies, you can check out all our contributors’ bios on each edition’s landing page. For example, read the contributor bios from Capsule Stories Summer 2020 Edition here.

6. Write a cover letter.

Writing a cover letter sounds complicated, but it’s not. In a cover letter, we want to see five things:

  • What category your submission is (poetry, story, essay)
  • Confirmation the submission has not been published anywhere else, including your blog, a school writing journal, Tumblr, etc.
  • Your full name
  • You bio
  • Your pronouns (if not included in your bio)

Here is a basic template you can use for your cover letter.

Dear Capsule Stories Editors,

I am submitting my poetry/story/essay to Capsule Stories Winter 2020 Edition. This poem/story/essay has not been published before.

Bio: Emma Lang graduated from the University of Iowa with a BA in journalism. She currently works for a newspaper and loves to write fiction and poetry in her spare time. She enjoys playing with her dog, Max, and watching scary movies late at night.


Emma Lang

If you’d like, you can include more information in your cover letter, but it’s not necessary. You might like to include:

  • Title(s) of the story, essay, or poems you’re submitting
  • If the submission is a simultaneous submission (if Capsule Stories is the only place you’ve sent it, or if you’re submitting the piece to other literary magazines)
  • What the story, poem(s), or essay is about or what inspired you to write it.
  • How you found out about Capsule Stories
  • Your social media handles

You do not need to include:

  • Your mailing address
  • Your phone number
  • Your age

7. Send your submission.

Some literary magazines accept submissions via email. We currently accept submissions through our Submittable page.

  • You will be asked to enter your mailing address before submitting on Submittable, as this speeds up our acceptance process. However, we want you to feel safe. If you do not want to enter your address into Submittable for privacy or safety reasons, please enter a placeholder and let us know in your cover letter that the address is a placeholder. Likewise, feel free to enter a placeholder phone number as we don’t need that info from you.
  • Paste your cover letter into Submittable’s area for a cover letter. Include your bio in this space!
  • Attach your submission in a Word document—not a PDF, unless it’s poetry with very special formatting, and not a Google Doc link, please.

Double-check that you’ve completed every item on this checklist for submitting to Capsule Stories. Now you’re ready to send your submission to us. Hit submit!

8. Celebrate!

It can be scary submitting your writing to a literary magazine. Take a moment to celebrate that you took the step to send your writing out in the world!

9. Submit your work to other literary magazines

When you send your writing to other literary magazines, you should take the time to read their submission guidelines, as different magazines want different things from submitters. For example, some magazines will require you to include your mailing address or to format your manuscript in a certain way. Or another literary magazine might only accept poetry and not fiction stories, or have a different word count limit. Be sure to follow each literary magazine’s guidelines carefully to be respectful of their editors’ time.

Have a question about submitting to Capsule Stories? Send us an email and ask your question.