The After Happy Hour annual contest is officially closed! We had a total of 178 entries to this year's contest, with a prize pool of $860. We plan to send all responses to submitters and announce the prize winners by mid-March. 

We're waiting to open feedback submissions until we've responded to all the contest entries (which should be in the next couple of weeks!). All other categories are open through 4/30 for our summer 2024 online issue.

------

After Happy Hour is a free online literary journal that comes out twice a year online in winter and summer, with a print contest issue in the spring. We're not limited to any particular genre, and publish poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, and visual art. We're headquartered in Pittsburgh, and love to get work from writers who have a connection to the region, but the journal is not exclusive to Pittsburgh-based writers--we've published stories, poem, and artwork from all over the world. If you want more insights into what we look for in works, we posted some wishlists and hard sells on our blog.

Our typical reading periods are: 

  • March 1st-April 30th for the summer issue (released late July or early August)
  • July 1st-August 31st for the winter issue (released early December)
  • November 15th-February 15th for the annual contest (print issue released in May)

Although time is wibbly-wobbly and these have been known to change (we'll update things here if they do).

For our online issues, we accept fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, visual art, photographs, graphic narratives, and any combination thereof. All contributors are paid a $10 honorarium on publication ($25 for our cover artist).

We have a few submission categories:

  • Free general submissions (capped at 300 per month--we'll post an update if we're nearing that limit)
  • $4 Tip Jar submissions, which get you an expedited response (within 14 days of submission)
  • Feedback submissions for donations of any amount to our current target charity 

Entries for our contest are $10, and can be fiction, poetry, or creative non-fiction.

As far as what we want from the work: Be bold and take risks, make an impact and make it early. AHH favors the audacious. If you want to get a sense of the type of work we publish, you can check out our past online issues free on our website. 

After Happy Hour requests first publication rights on acceptance for unpublished pieces, and one-time publication rights for reprints. Authors and artists retain full rights to their pieces and can do whatever else they want to with the work before, during, and after publication. For our online issues, we also ask for non-exclusive electronic archive rights and anthology rights, to potentially re-print your work in our annual print issue (of course, we will let you know if we do). 

$4.00

Expedited submissions have a guaranteed response time. Within 14 days or fewer, you will get a response of accepted, declined, or short-listed, which means we are seriously considering your work and it will be our first priority at our next editorial discussion. If you get the "short-listed" response, you'll also get some feedback-style details about what we love, what we don't, and how many votes the piece has for and against it, so you know exactly where your work stands with the editors.

As usual, we read blind so please remove all identifying information from your submission. Our more specific genre guidelines:   

Prose (Fiction/Creative Non-Fiction): Submit 1 piece of 1,000 words or more, or up to 3 flash/micro pieces of 1,000 words or fewer, in a single document. Double-space all pieces longer than 1,000 words. Shorter works can be single- or double-spaced at your discretion.    

Poetry: Send up to 3 poems in a single document.    

Suites: Send a series of 3-6 pieces, up to 10 pages, to be considered as a unit. Works can be poetry, fiction, non-fiction, visual art, or any combination thereof.    

Comics and Graphic Narratives: For 1-2 page works, you can send up to 5 in a single submission. For works longer than 2 pages, send one at a time in a single document. 

Visual Art: Send up to 5 images in a single submission.

 

Submit in standard manuscript format (11- or 12-point Serif font, 1" margins, etc.). We read blind, so please also remove all identifying information from your file. 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 the longer the story, the more it needs to justify its real estate--if your story is 8,000 words, do a close read to make sure it's not actually a fluffy, shaggy 6,000-word story (and, if it is, the more streamlined version will have a much better shot of getting accepted). 

Please double-space all prose longer than 1,000 words. Flash and micro pieces, or longer works that use non-traditional forms (e.g. stories told in columns, in bullet points, as comment sections of blogs, etc.) can be single- or double-spaced at your discretion. 

We're looking for stories we can't put down (and can't stop thinking about after we do) from any and all genres, including literary fiction as well as all subgenres of sci-fi, fantasy, horror/thriller, mystery/crime, and any other niche subgenres that don't fit into one of those categories. Whether your story is 2 pages or 20 pages, it should be complete and excised of all scaffolding, filler, and darlings. We like weird, surreal, and absurd--just make sure you actually have a story, not only a cool idea. Aside from that, we want the same stuff every journal asks for: strong characters, consistent voice, and compelling conflict.

Files in this category should not contain images. If you use illustrations or work in a hybrid visual medium, submit under the "Comics and Graphic Narratives" category.

Note on fonts: We've gotten some submissions apologizing that their computer doesn't have a font called "Serif"--and that's true, because isn't the name of a specific font! Here's a full explanation of what "serif" means, but the tl;dr version is that a Serif font is something like Times New Roman, Garamond, Georgia, or anything in that ballpark. 

Use standard manuscript formatting (12 point font, 1" margins, etc.).  We read blind, so please also remove all identifying information from your file. 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. 

 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 (you can send more, because I can't stop you, but we won't read them.) All submissions are read blind, so please remove any identifying information from your submission prior to sending. This category is for poems to be read individually, as opposed to the Suites category.

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. 

Note: As a rule, we are not fans of erasure works, and these are unlikely to be accepted. However, if you do send them, please keep in mind that the source material of erasures cannot contain private, personal information about other people, such as medical records, even if the names are obscured.

This category is for series (yes, the plural of series is series because English does whatever it wants and you can't stop it) of shorter works that go together as a sequence or unified whole, whether it's a segment of a chapbook, several microfictions, a photo-essay, or something that completely blurs or disregards genres altogether. Send 3-6 pieces (or up to 10 pages if mixed-media). There should be an overall title for the entire work, even if the individual pieces have their own titles. 

We are looking to accept these submissions in their entirety and may still edit parts if they don't feel right to us, but individual pieces will not be considered in this category. If you have a withdrawal, please withdraw the entire submission.

Note: As a rule, we are not fans of erasure works, and these are unlikely to be accepted. However, if you do send them, please keep in mind that the source material of erasure works cannot contain private, personal information about other people, such as medical records, even if the names are obscured. 

 We consider all forms of visual art, including paintings, drawings,  photographs, and digital images. Attach up to 5 works in a single submission. If your submission is a series of images meant to tell a narrative, or a combination of images and text, please use the "Comics and Graphic Narratives" category.

Please format as .jpg, .png, .pdf, or .tiff, with the highest resolution possible. No watermarks.

There is no length limit on graphic narratives. For short works (3 pages or under) you can send up to 5 as separate files. For works longer than 3 pages, send one at a time and wait until you get a response to send another. We read blind, so please also remove all identifying information from your file.  

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. 

Note: As a rule, we are not fans of erasure works, and these are unlikely to be accepted. However, if you do send them, please keep in mind that the source material of erasure works cannot contain private, personal information about other people, such as medical records, even if the names are obscured. 

Please format as .jpg, .png, .pdf, or .tiff, with the highest resolution possible. No watermarks.

After Happy Hour Review