The Short Story Dispenser: What is it and How to Submit Your Work

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Short Story Dispensers are stand alone kiosks delivering fiction to the public, while breathing new life into the art of storytelling. They are a creative & innovative way to boost reading for fun, encourage creative idleness and improve waiting experience.

The Dispensers are connecting readers across countries and cultures by publishing contemporary short stories, free of charge, at the push of a button (1min, 3min, 5min reading times, by audience or language)

There are more than 300 Dispensers installed around the world from San Francisco to Melbourne, Hong-Kong, Paris, London and Philadelphia… and now in the Library at Maynooth University. In total, more than 5.6 million readers have enjoyed fiction on the fly, for free! Writing.ie’s Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin chatted to Henry Mckean of Newstalk about the Maynooth Univeristy unit, listen back to the whole piece here and find out exactly how they work here: 

Short Édition partners around the world are curating local content to publish & showcase writers from their communities, on their Dispensers. Maybe the next great writer is in your town?

The Short Story Dispenser is a fantastic way to leverage involvement, engagement and connections. It’s highly appreciated by public libraries for its use in engaging local communities, by universities and schools for its ability to showcase student talent, and by companies for enabling them to provide customers a unique experience.

How do I submit my work?

You may submit your work in a few different ways, but please always make a user account (see below) before doing so in order to successfully submit. We are always accepting submissions for:

  • Short Circuit, our quarterly review, found here.
  • The Current, our new ongoing series of previously published works, found here.

And we are often hosting Short Edition contests or partnering with clients, helping them run their own contests through their local Dispensers. To stay up to date on these events, please regularly check out our homepage news announcements.

How do I make an author account?

As you might have realized, you need a user account in order to submit your writing and/or comment on, vote for, or simply “like,” your favorite submissions on the website or in the running in a contest we’re hosting. To make the account, go to our homepage (short-edition.com/en), click on the user icon on the right side of the page and, starting with “Create an account,” follow the prompts. Please be sure to verify your account at the end by clicking on the link that’s emailed to you.

Do you accept simultaneous submissions?

Yes. We accept simultaneous submissions as long as you let us know as soon as possible if your work is accepted for publication elsewhere.

What rights do you ask for if my work is accepted?

We ask for the exclusive right to publish your work in the Short Story Dispensers or any other similar “vending machine” for literature.

We ask for the non-exclusive right to publish your work via other mediums, such as on our website.

Therefore you are free to publish your work again anywhere you’d like as long as it’s not via a dispenser-like machine. However, we would love for you to acknowledge Short Edition as the original publisher.

How often do you have writing contests.

We usually host on average two writing contests a year for everyone to participate. But we also hold contests for clients with Short Story Dispensers, such as our upcoming Long Story Short Award, a contest for students at the 14 universities partnering with Short Edition.

What is Short Circuit?

Short Circuit is our quarterly review, publishing poetry, short fiction, and children’s stories and short circuiting the Dispensers once every three months. It is our main project to get new, unpublished works from all around the world into the Short Story Dispensers. Submissions are open year round.

What is The Current?

The Current is our ongoing series of previously published works. All writers are invited to submit works that have been published online or in print and we make a selection on a rolling basis to keep great fiction alive via the Dispensers.

Do you pay authors?

Yes. We strongly believe in supporting writers financially, and luckily our Short Story Dispensers allow us to do so. Every client owning a Dispenser pays a monthly subscription to Short Edition to continue receiving our newly published works and we use the accumulated money from these subscriptions to pay our authors.

We pay an advance payment on royalties of 100 euros for unpublished short fiction, 50 euros for unpublished poetry, and 25 for previously published works (The Current).

How do the yearly royalties work?

If you publish with us, your work will be selected to go into a number, if not all, of the Short Story Dispensers, and part of the monthly subscription the owners of the Dispensers pay is divvied up and paid to each author based on how many Dispensers his or her work appears in. On an annual basis, authors receive a recap of how many Dispensers their work(s) is published in and the royalties generated.

Will my work be published in the Short Story Dispensers?

We make sure that every work we publish goes into at least some of the Dispensers. However, we have to filter the stories into collections based on genre and intended audiences (children, young adult, general public and 18+) based on our clients’ needs, such as tailored stories for children’s hospitals, public places such as shopping malls, university students, etc.

However, if your work is published online as a submission for a contest, it only appears on the contest website—not the general Short Edition website—under a temporary license and can be removed after the contest is over. If it is published online as a submission, it does not mean that your work will necessarily go into a Short Story Dispenser. If it is selected for publication on our main website and in the Dispensers, you will always receive a publishing agreement from us first.

Is there a word count limit?

Due to the nature of how we print our works, we have to go by a character limit instead of a word count. Every Dispenser scroll of paper can hold up to 8,000 characters, spaces included.

What do works look like when printed via the Dispensers?

Click here for a pdf download.

Do you do a print version of your quarterly?

Our quarterly is published online and in the Short Story Dispensers. We do not publish it in any sort of book or magazine format.

How long will it take to hear back about my submission?

As more volunteers have signed on the help us read through submissions, we are speeding up our response rate. However, it can still take anywhere from a couple weeks to four or five months, depending on the number of submissions we’re receiving, whether or not we’re currently hosting a writing contest at that time, etc. But please don’t hesitate to shoot us an email for an update on your submission at hello@short-edition.com.

Does Short Edition use Submittable?

No. We have our own submission portal which is connected to our backend system and allows us to seamlessly transition published works onto our website and, most importantly, into the Short Story Dispensers.

How many works can I submit at the same time?

For Short Circuit, we accept one short fiction submission and/or one poetry submission per author.

For The Current, we accept one short fiction submission and/or one poetry submission per author.

For contests, we accept one submission per category (short fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction) per author, unless otherwise stated in the contest rules.

What kind of work are you looking for?

Very short stories (flash fiction if you prefer) and poems to delight, inspire, surprise, and, most importantly, move our readers. We accept a little bit of everything, because our Dispensers can be found in all sorts of places. We have to have engaging and appropriate works for Dispensers with general public audiences, including young children, but we also love to publish complex, more literary works more suitable for an older audience when possible.

We’re often drawn to quirky and original pieces that might surprise the reader, making someone think outside the box or see something in a different way. We also love pieces with a lot of heart, pieces that get into the nitty gritty and contradictory center of what it is to be human. We want raw emotion and unique characters.

And for our Children’s and Young Adult writers, we are especially looking for what colorful stories and poems you have to share. We believe that bringing print and digital together through the Dispensers can help show children and young adults that reading is fun, hip, and adventurous. We hope your stories and poems will make our young readers laugh, wonder, imagine, and grow.

See here for further information.

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