4 Ways Longshot Island Helps Emerging Authors

Let’s face it–this writing gig is tough. We pour out our hearts on paper, and then we try to get people to read our words. And they’re already busy.


1) Longshot Island can help. I’ve known Daniel White, editor of Longshot Island, for a couple years now, and I can state that he has excellent taste and is absolutely trustworthy. If you submit, he won’t spam you with an author package on sale this week only. But he might publish your work, and that’s the first way they can help us. We all need publications, and Longshot Island has already featured one of my short stories (http://www.longshotisland.com/2017/02/07/anemone/), so it’s not like you have to be famous to be considered.

My tale happens to be fantasy, but that’s not the only genre they’re interested in. To quote from their site: “We are looking for mainstream fiction. We want stories that are well written, intelligent, and enjoyable to read. We want stories with metaphors and emotional content and imaginative descriptive writing…We are seeking mainstream fiction first and foremost…But we also routinely publish science fiction, fantasy and horror stories, because we like to read just about anything…the focus is on giving recognition to great work, not on making money.

We challenge you to write something new, something different from your usual bag of tricks…Stretch yourself. Go out on a limb until something snaps.

That’s easier said than done. Here are some clues regarding what we look for in a story:

Usually stories with more characters work better than stories with fewer characters. You’ll need to have a strong central character, of course. But as you write, think about which character owns each scene. Create a clear scene with descriptive writing but not too much exposition. While action and dialog lead to exciting writing, descriptive writing will play an important role in giving your story skin…”

They prefer shorter stories, 500 words to 2,500 in length. And they also like collections of poems. Submit your stories and poetry here: http://www.longshotisland.com/submissions/.

And that brings us to 2)–it’s incredibly validating to be published. If you haven’t had the experience yet, I envy you the pure joy of whirlng around the house, dancing on air because someone published you. It makes you stand straighter as a writer. It wasn’t until I had my first publication that I answered, “I’m a writer,” when people asked me what I do. Up until then, it seemed too much like claiming a status I didn’t deserve.

It’s also validating to readers. People take my self-published collection of short stories more seriously because I have six trade publication credits to go with it.


3) Longshot Island doesn’t just publish online. They take the best of their publications and compile them into a print magazine. Let me tell you, the first ezine publication is special. But so is holding an actual print copy of something with your work in it. I gave copies of my first to everyone I loved. (Cue Cover of the Rolling Stone here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Ux3-a9RE1Q).

And this is the really cool part.

4) Longshot Island submits your work for awards.

I don’t know if any of you have looked into this, but the award situation is depressing–just Google Puppygate. In addition to that, it seems that lots of places want to consider you for their award–if you send them a check–and these are not small checks, either. I’m sure some of them mean well, but how do you separate the rackets from the genuine contests?

Longshot Island is one solution. Daniel White states: “We choose to stay away from money-making organizations and focus on the most important thing: recognizing great writers for what they’ve written. At the same time, we realize it’s all a long shot. Hence the name: Longshot Island. It’s a place where great stories abide that might not ever be recognized if it weren’t for organizations like the Pushcart Prize.”

I asked him for further information about this because I’d really like to be able to state that I’ve won awards with real stature in the writing community. Here’s what Daniel told me:

“Longshot Island…focus[es] on two competitions, the Pushcart Prize, which is for short stories in books, and the O. Henry Awards, which is for short stories in magazines. These are competitions that authors can’t enter independently. They need a publisher to nominate them. We act as a portal for authors, giving them a chance to win both of these prestigious competitions.

In 1972, Bill Henderson…started the Pushcart Prize, along with editors such as Joyce Carol Oates. The idea was simple. All year long, independent publishers like us, over at Longshot Press, read through and evaluate stories submissions. We pick the best and then publish those stories. At the end of the year, we narrow down the field and send the best of the best to the Pushcart Prize. They evaluate what they get and put together an anthology of the best short stories of the year from all the small presses who want to get involved. But entry is limited. Each publisher may only submit six stories per year. Authors who even just get nominated for the prize consider it an honor, often mentioning this in their biographies: http://www.pushcartprize.com/pushcartpress.html.

There is no entry free and there is no money paid out for the prestigious Pushcart Prize. It’s all about recognizing the best writers of the year. Likewise, we don’t charge our authors anything to submit stories and we don’t pay them anything. We do give each author five printed copies of the book or magazine the work appears in.

We found the O. Henry Awards to be on similar footing. There is no entry fee and no money awarded, just recognition for great writing. These stories are picked out of magazines and not books, so we publish both a book and four quarterly magazines each year. The best stories we get from authors go on our website, called Longshot Island. After three months, we pick the best of the stories online and put those stories in a magazine and send it to the O. Henrys.

When I talked to Laura Furman, who manages the O. Henry Awards, she said: ‘I thank you for thinking of The O. Henry Prize Stories, and I hope you’ll continue to submit your magazine. It doesn’t matter if it’s a small venture or a large one for the O. Henry. It’s always the stories that count.’

There is no limit to how many stories we can send to the O. Henrys. They expect to receive the full copy of each magazine we print. All year long they catalog and read every story in every magazine they receive. At the end of the year, they recognize the best stories they’ve found by putting them in an anthology, just like with the Pushcart Prize. The first O. Henry anthology was published in 1919 by Doubleday. Currently, the contest is owned by Random House: https://www.randomhouse.com/anchor/ohenry/resources/faq.html.

Here’s a great article about how the process works: https://electricliterature.com/at-the-end-of-an-unlit-dead-end-corridor-in-the-basement-of-calhoun-hall-on-the-university-of-texas-63da2c2f7474#.x8lphym1i.”

So go check out Longshot Island. I think you’ll be glad you did.

Avid writer and reader of Faerie tales and noblebright fantasy.

Posted in Publishing
44 comments on “4 Ways Longshot Island Helps Emerging Authors
  1. Reblogged this on BlogBattle and commented:
    Hello, my fellow battlers! Our own Cathleen Townsend has shared some info on a great resource for writers who wish to submit their work elsewhere.

    We want to encourage all battle winners to consider submitting their winning Blog Battles short fiction stories (not serials) to Longshot Island.

    If your winning story is part of one that has several parts but adds up to no more than 2,500 words, you should consider taking it to Longshot. Make sure you read the rest of this over on Cathleen’s blog.

    And even if you haven’t won, you should still consider the possibility. Polish up those prose and take a gander. Thanks and have a great week!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I need to start writing some short stories! This sounds like a great resource, Cathleen. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Short stories are a seductive art form. It’s where I try new things, ideas or forms that I’m not sure are ready for a novel-length investment of time. You can always send me a short story for critique if you like, too. I crit frequently on Absolute Write, so I’ve had lots of practice. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Thanks so much for sharing, Cathleen. I’m sharing too! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thanks so much, Bette.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. andrew j lucas says:

    I had my short story published with Longshot and it was a very pleasurable experience. no fuss no muss.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Hi Cathleen, great post! I love writing short stories and I’m so thankful for Daniel for giving us this opportunity to challenge ourselves. Being in a magazine with authors who wow me and are experienced and good story-tellers is truly an inspiration.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. M.H. Vesseur says:

    It’s admirable that you’ve taken the time to write about Daniel White’s great efforts to do something worth while for authors. He’s indeed going for quality and in these times of declining print it is a daring enterprise that is worthy of our support. And then… you get all these wonderful stories as a result, because there is really something happening at Longshot Island.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree–editorial standards seem to be changing, and it’s difficult to know where we fit in when everything shifts so rapidly. Daniel’s a great guy, and I’m proud to be associated with him, even in a small way. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Ann Coleman says:

    Terrific information! Thanks for sharing it with us, Cathleen. And congrats on being published in Longshot Island!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Reblogged this on O LADO ESCURO DA LUA and commented:

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Reblogged this on Steve Boseley and commented:
    For new authors, having a published story to your name can be incredibly valuable in your quest to be taken seriously as an author. Have a look at Longshot Island, and he opportunities they may present…

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I’ve been published twice under the great name of Longshot Island, and I can say without a doubt that absolutely no publication I’ve been featured in offers anywhere near the amount of assistance and guidance, not to mention friendship that Daniel does at Longshot. We still email regularly, and he has given me advise on stories that aren’t even featured in his magazine. I’m assuming that he is this helpful to all nurturing authors, as I am nowhere near the most gifted writer that Longshot has graced. If you’re a new author, Daniel is the best person to contact with your work, hands down. Do yourself a favor and submit to Longshot. You will not regret it.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Dhaval Nayi says:

    Thanks for sharing it and yes Daniel White is the guardian angel for us aspiring writers!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Longshot Island is a superb initiative and I am glad to see it is growing in strength and influence. Daniel is a refreshing voice in what can be a stultifying industry, full of cliques and literary grandeur. He publishes across genres with no hint of snobbery and deserves all the praise he has received so far.
    Publishers are the writers’ gatekeepers and Daniel understands the truth of this relationship well. I wouldn’t be surprised if he uncovered the next big talent with his refreshing, friendly and accessible approach.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. D.S.White says:

    Thanks for the encouragement, everyone. I really believe in your talent. And thanks Cathleen for the great article.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. […] I then followed the link to the original post to read more here. 4 Ways Longshot Island Helps Emerging Authors […]


  16. beetleypete says:

    Thanks for this tip, Cathleen. I gave it a try, and I am very pleased with what happened.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. […] Source: 4 Ways Longshot Island Helps Emerging Authors […]

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Adithi Rao says:

    Cathleen, I have two stories on Longshot Island. In Jan this year it was me whirling and dancing around the room like you said, and so I KNOW what you mean! And it all happened so simply. When submitting to Longshot you don’t get a sense of self importance like you get with so many other magazines who charge a reading fee, disallow simultaneous submissions and then ask you to wait 6 months for a response. Dan is a very prompt in his reply and honest with his feedback. Even if he is rejecting it. So you never hesitate to bounce right back and submit the next story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It makes a difference when people are kind, doesn’t it? Daniel’s not indiscriminate in any sense of the word, but he’s still considerate. You don’t get the feeling that you want to crawl under a rock and never submit again. 🙂


  19. Cathleen, thank you, thank you for posting this info about a publisher that wants to promote the written word, even that of amateurs. This is such a tough industry and an article like this is hopeful. As I’ve read some of your work here, I know you’re a terrific short story writer. You deserve to be represented at Longshot Island. Thanks for sharing – I’m going to look further into this magazine.

    Liked by 2 people

  20. Thanks for sharing this publisher. Yes, getting somethiing published helps so much. It’s validating and it take the bit away from all the rejections. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  21. I’m with you on that one. A single yes can suddenly make all the rejections much more inconsequential. 🙂


  22. Hi, Ms. Cathleen Townsend, how long does it take to receive a response from Longshot Island on a short story submission? Thank you for your time, Jennifer Anne F. Messing

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can’t really say for certain since it’s not my site, but Daniel’s always been pretty quick with me. Under a month. 🙂


    • D.S. White says:

      Hi Jennifer. We appreciate getting all your comments through our contact page. But we have responded to you several times. Please check all your inboxes and your junk box. Today we received an auto-reply that said: “Thank you for your email. I will respond within 2 business days.”

      Liked by 1 person

  23. […] for Lettuce” this week. I learned about this publication from Cathleen Townsend’s post Longshot Island helps emerging authors.  She’s done a good job of describing what they do. For me, they helped polish the story, […]


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