Submission Guidelines & FAQs

(We are not accepting new submissions until August 1st, 2017. Thank you!)

Waterline Writers is a literary reading event held in a beautiful art gallery on the 3rd Sunday of each month from September-May. From 7:00 – 8:30 pm, we feature several writers selected by submission, followed by an Open Mic at 8:30, with no submission required. Between 50-90 writers and book lovers attend to enjoy the curated readings, meats & cheeses from The Market at Gaetano’s and beer & wine ($5) from Solemn Oath and Bright Angel, surrounded by the art exhibits at Water Street Studios, 160 S. Water Street, Batavia IL. No readings are held in June, July or August. Admission, for those who are able, is $5 ($3 for students).

Waterline Writers is a favorite for many writers because of our beautiful venue, our friendly audience, and the chance to meet and network with other writers and readersSince February 2012, we have hosted more than 50 reading events featuring over 175 different writers; some have read more than once, for a total of over 300. Each 10-minute reading can be found in our Video Library! Authors have sold many books and unpublished writers have found the support to self-publish or submit to online or traditional publishers. New writers’ groups, formal and informal, have formed. Writers who have worked in isolation have found that a community of writers benefits them in many ways, and an audience for their work provides satisfaction, recognition and direction. Each featured writer receives a $25 honorarium, free admission for 2, one free drink coupon, beautiful photo portraits by Chuck Bennorth Photography, a video of their reading, and the opportunity to sell books at the event.

We seek fiction (short stories or novel excerpts of any genre), poetry, creative non-fiction or memoir, spoken word, plays, storytelling, stand-up comedy, multi-media work, and non-fictional pieces that entertain, inform or enlighten. We invite all published and not-yet-published writers to read our Submission Guidelines (Nuts & Bolts) and (Heart & Soul) and our Open Mic Guidelines: 

Submission Guidelines (Nuts & Bolts) for featured writers:

  • Submissions are accepted from August 1st-March 30th. 
  • Send the work you want to read to
    • Word, RTF, TXT, or Google doc formats are preferred.
  • Time limit is approximately 8-10 minutes when read aloud at your preferred pace.
    • Select and practice your submission within the allotted time frame.
  • For prose, 8-10 minutes means approximately 1750 words.
  • Poets:
    • Include all of the poems in one document.
    • Don’t send more than 10 poems. 
  • Spoken word poets, video or audio is preferred.
  • Include
    • a short bio–we won’t read it until after we read your work : )
    • a photo in JPG or PNG format. A head shot works best! 
  • 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 3-4 week period before notifying you of a decision. Many factors go into the decision process. There are only 5 reading slots available each month (Sept-May), so we are very selective. Readers are often rejected one or more times before being accepted. Some pieces don’t seem right for our events, but do find a home elsewhere. Consider reading at our Open Mic’s; sometimes we “hear” a piece differently that we “read” it. 

What types of writing do you accept for main events?  We seek fiction (short stories or novel excerpts of any genre), poetry, creative non-fiction or memoir, spoken word, plays, storytelling, stand-up comedy, multi-media work, and non-fictional pieces that entertain, inform or enlighten!

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.
For (Heart & Soul) Submission Guidelines, click here. 


Open Mic Guidelines:
  • Prepare a 3-5 minute piece to share; no submission required.
  • We’ll blink the lights once at 4.5 minutes, twice at 5 minutes. If you go over 5.5, we’ll stop your reading.
  • Sign up during the main event.
  • No racist, sexist, homophobic or otherwise hateful material.
  • Be considerate. If your piece may be traumatic to survivors of abuse, suicide, etc., contact us first. 

More FAQs:

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 short break for wine & beer ($5) and food.

Book sales: Featured authors may sell books on the night they read and they 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, to build connections with other writers and audience members. Let us know which you prefer.

Photography: Group and individual portraits are taken by Chuck Bennorth Photography. You are welcome to use these portraits! Please give Chuck a photo credit and let him know:

Filming: Yes, we film the readings and post them on our website’s Video Library (via Vimeo). It includes over 300 videos: a literary treasury! After the event, we broadcast on BATV (Comcast 17 in Batavia, AT&T U-verse 99 in N. Illinois) and stream on You are welcome to use the video or audio from your reading.

Membership: We don’t have members, but if you like Waterline Writers, please become a member of Water Street Studios, our beautiful venue. Memberships start at $25!

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

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

Is there an age limit for readers? Readers are usually over 18, but our youngest reader was 14 and our oldest was 80!

Can I bring children? Readings often include adult content. Please don’t bring children who might talk or make noises during the readings.

Do you have a microphone? Yes.

We welcome feedback at