Update 2/24/2021: Our submissions are officially full for the spring reading period! We’ll re-open for submissions in all categories on 4/1/21.
The After Happy Hour Review is an online journal produced in Pittsburgh, PA. We gravitate towards work that is quirky, accessible, and unconventional. An ideal piece might cover a subject few people write about or cover familiar subjects from an unexpected angle.
We also accept visual art, be it digital photos, paintings, or collages, as well as comics.
We read from October 1-February 28 and from April 1-August 31, and publish two issues each year. We are independent and proud of it. Like many literary journals, we’re run by a small crew of volunteer readers. For the sake of both our sanity and our Submittable account budget, we can receive a maximum of 300 submissions per month. We’ll update here if that maximum is reached at any point.
General Submission Guidelines
- We accept fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, visual art, comics, and every iteration and/or combination thereof. All genres and forms are welcome.
- Please include a brief (100 word max) 3rd-person bio in your cover letter.
- To limit editor and reader bias, we read all submissions blind. To this end, we ask submitters to remove their name and contact information from the document itself.
- We are not opposed to sex, violence, or profanity when they are necessary to the story—we’re fans of all three, in fact. Having said that, we will not accept any work that contains hateful or discriminatory content, including racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia. Gratuitous sex and violence will probably get you rejected, too.
- Use standard manuscript format (12-point Serif font, standard margins and spacing). It’s not like we’ll reject you for a bad font (probably) but it makes it easier to read, and that makes us happy. The exception is poetry that uses non-standard formatting for stylistic reasons. Prose writers have no excuse.
- We accept submissions only through Submittable. Submissions sent to our e-mail will be deleted unread.
- We accept and encourage simultaneous submissions. All we ask is that you be a good literary citizen. Tell us it’s a sim sub in the cover letter, and withdraw your submission through Submittable if it’s accepted elsewhere (if you’re withdrawing part of a submission, you can use the note feature or send us an e-mail). It is also expected that you’ll withdraw your submission from consideration by other journals if After Happy Hour accepts it.
- Please send only one submission per category at a time. We’ll happily consider submissions in multiple categories from the same author (e.g. a poem and a story).
- If you work in mixed genres (hybrid poetry/fiction, illustrated stories, etc.) submit the work in the category that seems to fit the best, and we’ll figure it out.
- We do not accept reprints, translations, or scholarly essays.
- Our response time is generally less than 6 weeks, but we are humans (mostly) and have been known to fall behind. If you haven’t heard from us in 3 months or more, you can send an e-mail and give us a nudge. You can also check on the status of your submission at any time by logging into your Submittable account.
- Accepted submissions may be edited for grammar. All changes are sent to the author for approval before publication.
If you write short (under 1,000 words) you can send up to 3 stories in a single document. Otherwise, send one story at a time and wait until you hear back to send another. There is no hard word count, but works over 5,000 words must be truly exceptional to merit consideration. Please double-space all prose longer than 1,000 words. Flash and micro pieces can be single- or double-spaced at your discretion.
As far as aesthetics, our prose editor sez:
We’re looking for stories we can’t put down (and can’t stop thinking about after we do). Whether your story is 2 pages or 20 pages, it should be complete and excised of all scaffolding, filler, and darlings. We like weird and absurd, just make sure you actually have a story, not only a cool concept. Aside from that, we want the same stuff every journal asks for: strong characters, consistent voice, and compelling conflict.
Send one piece up to 6,000 words, double-spaced. For flash essays and micro-essays (under 1,000 words) you can send up to 3 in a single document, which can be single- or double-spaced.
Our prose editor sez:
The ideal CNF submission engages the raw and personal with the broader world. We’re not looking for journal entries, or for journalistic essays–it should be something in between, the intersection of your experience and the human experience. Scholarly essays will not be considered. We like the emphasis to be on the “creative” more than the “non-fiction” and look for essays that tell a story. Even if the situation is ongoing, your piece should have a clear beginning and end.
Send up to 3 poems in a single document (no line limits).
Our poetry editor sez:
Aesthetically, we’re looking for things that challenge. Challenge form, challenge language, challenge society, challenge your rival to a bake-off, but most importantly, challenge yourself to exceed what came before you and to be your own voice. Shrug off your cliches and hang-ups and give us something new. Poetry, in whatever form it takes, can move our hearts and brains in places that other arts can’t. Embrace it. Fucking run wild.
Send a document to be considered as a unit, containing 3-6 pieces, up to 10 pages. This can include poetry, fiction, images, or any combination of the above.
Our poetry editor sez:
We are looking for a series of very short pieces that work together, whether aesthetically, thematically, or narratively, to form a broader whole. We may still edit parts if they don’t feel right to us, but individual pieces will not be considered in this category.
Comics and Graphic Narratives
There is no length limit on graphic narratives. For short works (3 pages or under) you can send up to 5 in a single submission. For works longer than 3 pages, send one at a time and wait until you get a response to send another.
Our managing editor sez:
We want pieces that explore the creative potential of visual storytelling in all its forms, from traditional comics to experimental works. If it’s part of a larger narrative, make sure the excerpt has a self-contained arc. Remember that we are primarily a literary journal, so the quality of the writing has to be on-par with the visuals.
We consider all forms of visual art, including paintings, drawings, photographs, and digital images. We consider both individual works and artist profiles for feature issues. To submit individual work, attach up to 5 works in a single submission. If you would like to be considered for a feature, attach a sample of 3-5 works and include a link to your website or portfolio in your submission.
The Other Stuff
- We acquire first publishing rights and electronic archive rights. All rights revert to the author following the work’s publication in After Happy Hour you can re-publish and anthologize your work at will. Content can be removed from the website on request, but cannot be removed from the the issue in which it was published.
- If you submit late in a reading period and the current issue is already full, your work may instead be considered for the next issue. You’ll be notified of this if your work is accepted.
- We nominate work published in After Happy Hour for various awards and anthologies, including the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net.
- Unfortunately, we cannot offer payment to our contributors at this time.
Contact us at afterhappyhour [at] gmail [dot] com