Waterline Writers Submissions:

Before sending a submission, make sure you’ve read our FAQs page first, then read our General Information for Writers and our Submission Guidelines and Tips below. Click here for Open Mic information.

General Information for Writers: Submissions are accepted from August 1st – March 31st. We seek fiction (short stories or novel excerpts of any genre), poetry, creative non-fiction, memoir, spoken word and the occasional essay, play excerpt, storyteller, stand-up comedian or multi-media artist. Subscribe to our website, send us your email address and Like us on Facebook to receive event announcements and submission updates.

Membership: We don’t have members. Admissions ($5/$3 students) make it possible for us to give each featured writer $25 and cover our minimal expenses. However, if you like Waterline Writers and have benefitted from your connection with us, please become a member of Water Street Studios, where memberships start at $25! And let us know! It means a lot to us—and them!

Format: Writers arrive 1/2 hour before the event. Our emcee will introduce writers in an order to be decided the week of the event. There is a 10-minute break for wine & beer ($5) and food.

Book sales: Featured authors may sell books on the night they read and keep all proceeds from sales! Be prepared to sign copies, handle your own sales, and make change during breaks or after the event at the provided table. Sales are variable, so some writers prefer to mingle and network with other writers and audience members. Offering a “special Waterline price” seems to help sales!

Photography: Group and individual portraits are taken by Chuck Bennorth Photography, and you are welcome to use them! Please give Chuck a photo credit and let him know: cbennorth@aol.com

Filming: We film the readings for our website’s Video Library, which includes over 300 videos! You are welcome to use the video or audio from your reading. We’ll let you know if the event is broadcast (and streamed) via MyBATV.com (Comcast 17 in Batavia, AT&T U-verse 99 in N. Illinois) later in the month. We do have a microphone and sound system with speakers.

Is it a writers’ workshop? No. The work you hear will already be polished and published or, in our opinion, ready to be published. Work is not critiqued at the event.

Age limit: Readers are usually over 18, but our youngest was 14 and our oldest was 80!

Submission Guidelines for featured writers:

Email the following to waterlinewriters@gmail.com:

  • A short bio—we’ll read it after we read your work.
  • A photo in JPG or PNG format—a head shot works best.
  • Attach the work to be read (Word, RTF, TXT, or Google doc)
    • Time limit is 8-10 minutes when read aloud.
    • For prose, 8-10 minutes is about 1750 words.
    • For prose, put the word count in the top right corner.
    • Poets, attach all poems in one document.
    • Poets, don’t send more than 10 poems.
    • Spoken word poets, video or audio is preferred.
  • Note your availability for upcoming 3rd Sundays (Sept-May).

You’ll receive confirmation within a few days. We read your submission at least twice over a 4-week period before notifying you of a decision. If you haven’t heard back within 4 weeks, remind us!

Why do I need to submit a sample of my work to Waterline Writers?

  • We want writers who demonstrate a high level of talent, commitment & passion.
  • What you write may affect when we want you to read.
  • We want each night to include different types of work.

Why the time limit? To hear many different voices, we give each writer 8-10 minutes–long enough for you to share an example of your best work.

Submission Tips:

Here are special tips for previously featured writers, for all writers, for prose submissions and for poetry submission. Your submission must also meet the Submission Guidelines above.

Tips for previously featured writers:

  • Don’t wait for US to ask YOU to read again! It’s nice to be asked and hard to risk “no” as an answer, but 200+ writers have read at Waterline. It’s difficult to remember who has read when or know who wants to read now! Take the initiative! Send us what you’d like to read!
  • From now on, you DO have to send your work as a submission if you want to read again! It creates all kinds of problems to accept a writer without reading and accepting their exact submission, even if we know how good you are!

 Tips for all featured writers:

  • General note: Our standards are high, whether we’re reading a submission from an oft-published pro or a new writer. We’ve featured over 200 writers and have a reputation for excellence, so we can afford to be selective, but we also like to take a chance on young writers, new writers and work that is experimental, unique or lots of fun!
  • Send your very best work. Send work you believe in. Showcase your strengths as a writer. Select something that will affect us—wow, lull, terrify, mesmerize—or whatever it is you want to do with this piece! You only have 10 minutes with us. Make the most of it!
  • You may add 1-2 minutes to set up your reading, clarify characters or fill in background info for the excerpt or poems you are reading. Total time should still be less than 12 minutes.
  • Think Marketing. Don’t send the 1st chapter if the 23rd is the one that knocks it out of the park. Make it almost impossible for the audience NOT to buy your book. It is more than okay to read from deeper in the book, perhaps selecting a passage that divulges quite a bit. No one is going to decide NOT to buy it because you’ve just completely hooked them. (Even if you don’t have a book to sell, make your selection as if you did.)
  • Come to Waterline! If you’ve been previously featured, but don’t come back when possible, we understand, especially if you live far away, but we do notice those who make it back to support other writers, to participate in Open Mics, to be a part of this community of writers. We can’t say that doesn’t make a difference when we consider submissions! If you’re new to us, it’s the best way to get familiar with who we are and what we’re looking for.
  • Read your work aloud before sending it, to see if it can easily be read in 10 minutes! Hopefully you already do this while moving through drafts. It’s one of the most helpful ways to make sure your hard work is working!
  • We note perseverance and passion! No one likes a squeaky wheel, but we do pay attention to people who can handle a “no”, take suggestions, do some more work and try again.
  • Need help? If you believe in what you’re doing, but can’t quite get there, ask if we can help.

Tips for fictional or non-fictional prose submissions:

  • You can combine two excerpts. In some cases, it makes sense to select two shorter passages, connecting them with a short explanation or pause.
  • You can edit a longer excerpt to fit our time constraints, even if the work is already published. If you have trouble doing that, we can help.
  • If you read a piece with lots of dialogue, consider the audience’s experience. Will it be obvious when you move from one speaker to the next, thanks to “he said, she said”? Or can you distinguish speakers by different voices or by pausing or turning to face one way or the other? If the dialogue is in a dialect or requires any kind of accent, are you proficient in that or, if not, will the humorous situation that results detract from what you’re reading? 

Tips for poetry submissions:

  • Think about whether you want the poems to have coherence in content and style, or whether you want to give us disparate examples of your work. Think about whether and how you’ll bridge between poems.
  • After you decide which poems to submit, read them aloud at the pace you’ll use when reading at Waterline. (Rushing through lots of poems is not a good idea.)
  • Remember to submit all poems as an attachment, in one document.
  • A video or audio file is preferred for spoken word poets.

Make sure you’ve read our FAQs page. Subscribe to our website, send us your email address and Like us on Facebook to receive event announcements and submission updates. Click here for Open Mic information.

We welcome questions and feedback at waterlinewriters@gmail.com.