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Halfway Down the Stairs publishes poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and book reviews.  New issues are published quarterly (March, June, September, and December), and each issue is themed.  We publish primarily literary and mainstream work, but accept work in most genres, with children’s literature and erotica as the exceptions.

Please note we are a non-paying market.

Our June 2023 issue will be themed Resistance. Submissions are open from March 1, 2022 through May 1, 2023. We aim to respond to all submissions within 4-8 weeks of receipt, and you will never wait more than three months for a response.

We will consider submissions of photography or art, but only if it is a companion to a piece of literature that we have accepted. We no longer accept standalone photography or art submissions.


  1. Theme Calendar
  2. General Guidelines
  3. Poetry, Fiction and Nonfiction Guidelines
  4. Submissions Process
  5. Guidelines for Companion Photography or Art
  6. Publication Details


Our upcoming themes are as follows:

June 2023 issue
Theme: Resistance

September 2023 issue
Theme: Body & Soul

December 2023 issue
Theme: Winter

We only accept submissions for themes during our specified submission periods, for the specified theme, which are:

  • March 1st – May 1st for June issue
  • June 1st – August 1st for September issue
  • September 1st – November 1st for December issue
  • December 1st – February 1st for March issue

At all other times we are closed for submissions.


  1. We are looking for serious writers with an appreciation for language and the craft of writing. We want fiction with memorable characters and realistic plots, poetry that is fresh and original, and nonfiction that is both thoughtful and entertaining.
  2. We will accept only writing that has been proofread for spelling and grammar. Trust us on this one. We keep our virtual machete very sharp for people who are grammatically challenged, and we are not afraid to use it.
  3. Having said that, as an international ‘zine, we accept differences in spelling usages (e.g. British vs American English) and will publish whatever is considered correct in an author’s home country.
  4. We are not interested in explicit sexual content, gratuitous violence, or repetitive swearing, unless it is essential to the plot and not included solely for shock value.
  5. Please do not send us any of the following: poetry that sounds like it ought to be on a Hallmark card, poetry you copied from a Hallmark card, how-to articles, first drafts of anything, fanfiction, anything full of sentimentality, or religious and/or political propaganda disguised as fiction.
  6. This ought to be obvious, but only send us your own work, humans. If you send us anything plagiarized or written by a robot, remember we have a machete.
  7. We do not accept previously published work. This includes not only formal publications in print and online journals, but any pieces you may have posted to a blog, personal website, etc. If it’s already available to the public in some form, we do not accept it.
  8. We do accept simultaneous submissions, but please let us know immediately if your piece is accepted by another journal.
  9. As above, we do not consider or accept submissions outside the specified submission period.
  10. We reserve the right to make minor editorial changes without consultation, where there are unintentional errors or inconsistencies in punctuation, spelling or grammar.
  11. The editors are all responsive to shameless flattery and to gifts of chocolate.

Poetry Guidelines

We accept poetry of roughly 500 words or less, although we are not terribly strict about this guideline.  We are rarely willing to be lenient with the theme when it comes to poetry, and will do so only if the submission is very good.

Please note that we only accept three poems at any one time from a single author and, for the most part, publish only one poem from any one author per edition.

Fiction Guidelines

We accept fiction of roughly 5,000 words or less related to the theme of the issue.   The fiction editors are looking mostly for short stories, but we are happy to consider well-crafted flash fiction. We don’t want to be too strict with the guidelines, because we appreciate originality, creativity, and stories that are off the beaten path. We like stories that grab us from the beginning, make us think, and keep us enthralled. Stories should be written confidently and fluidly, avoiding too many adjectives or too much dialogue. We will be negatively distracted by poor grammar/spelling, clichés, and a lack of editing.

Please submit only one piece of fiction at a time, and ensure stories are formatted as requested below.

Nonfiction Guidelines

We accept creative nonfiction of 3,000 words or less. Halfway Down the Stairs is specifically looking for essays and memoir with a strong voice and a unique point of view. We publish well-written, honest writing that inspires emotion. Humor is also appreciated.

We are not looking for stream of consciousness rants of a political or religious nature. Save those for your blog. We respond negatively to spelling and grammatical errors, so please proofread your work closely if you wish to have it seriously considered.

As of 2018 we began accepting nonfiction submissions outside of the issue theme.  Submissions within the theme are still encouraged, but high quality submissions outside the theme will also be considered for publication. Please note this only applies to nonfiction submissions.

Please submit only one piece of nonfiction at a time.


  1. Please send all writing submissions to halfway . stairs @ gmail . com.
  2. Your subject line should look like this: submission, genre, and title of your piece.  (Example: “Submission, Fiction, Monsoon Nights.”)  If you are submitting multiple poems, state the number of poetry submissions instead of the title of the piece. (Example:  “Submission, Three Poems by William C. Fredrikson.”) Please do not submit multiple genres in a single e-mail; if you would like to submit poetry and fiction, send us two separate e-mails.
  3. Within the body of your e-mail, give us the following information: the title(s) of your submission(s), the name under which you wish to be published, your e-mail address, if the piece you are submitting has ever been published elsewhere, if the piece you are submitting is a simultaneous submission, and a brief introduction written in the 3rd person point of view.  If you are submitting multiple poems, include these statements at the beginning of your e-mail, and follow it with the actual poems. Example:

    Three Poems

    by William C. Fredrikson.

    No, the submitted poems have never published elsewhere.

    Monsoon Nights is not a simultaneous submission.  Elsewhere and Lady Luck are both simultaneous submissions.William C. Fredrikson teaches grade seven social studies in British Columbia.   His students think he looks exactly like Jack Nicholson.  In his spare time, William enjoys playing the guitar, reading Hemingway, studying World War II history, and making fun of reality television.

    If we do choose to publish your piece, we will also publish your biography. Your e-mail address is confidential, and we will never publish it or give it out.

  4. After your introduction, please post your piece within the body of your e-mail.  Please do not send your work as an attachment.  Please single space your work, double spacing between paragraphs.  Please do not indent your paragraphs.
  5. Provide a content warning if it’s warranted: Let us know upfront if there is some kind of explicit content in your submission which we should be warned about in advance. We’ll leave this up to your discretion, but examples could include abuse, neglect, self harm, or violence.
  6. Optional: Let us know how you found us.  We’re curious as to where our readers and writers are coming from.
  7. Optional: Let us know if there’s a kind of image you visualize with your piece, or even if you have an image you would like us to use if it is published (guidelines below). We reserve the right to choose alternatives – but we are happy to consider your suggestions.

We aim to respond to all submissions within 4-8 weeks of receipt, and you will never wait more than three months for a response.


Although we reserve the right to choose alternatives, you are welcome to submit photography or art alongside your literature. It must be directly relevant and complementary to the piece of literature you have submitted – we no longer accept discrete submissions of unrelated photography or art.

It goes without saying that we are looking for visually striking and high quality images. Due to the layout of our website, we can only use images that are in landscape format – not portrait or square. They must also be composed in a way that works with our website style – in particular, white text will need to be able to sit in the middle of the image, and still be readable.

The photography you submit must be your own work. Additionally, we do not accept previously published work. We will credit you for the image as well as the literature if your image is published.

We also welcome any suggestions of the type of image you would like to see with your literature, if accepted, which we will take into account if possible. This will depend on whether we can find an appropriate image that is open source / in the public domain.


Upon publishing your work, Halfway Down the Stairs will require exclusive electronic rights to it for 3 months, or the length of one issue.  After the three month period is over, we will request nonexclusive electronic rights so we may include it in our archives.


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