Reading Windows and SubmissionsFull colour photo of a set of pencils, at different angles, and different types, with a sharpener and lots of sharpened pencil shavings.

Unsolicited pamphlet submissions are rarely accepted here, and unsolicited full collections never. 

If you're an aspiring (or emerging, like a dragonfly) poet and keen, nevertheless, to have work considered, your best bet is to ask for feedback on a few poems in one of the reading windows, and in this way test out the editing relationship. Over time, it might turn into something. To get that feedback you need to subscribe (sorry!). If this prospect seems costly, choose online-only subscription which is still only £7.00.

If you’re an established poet with a pamphlet proposal, please sound out your idea by email, bearing in mind what I said above. Do not post manuscripts — it is a waste of time and paper, and will certainly be counter-productive. I am not actively looking for new work to publish, but occasionally an unusual idea may win me over. 

HappenStance does not normally publish poets living outside the UK. 

A strong record of publication in well-regarded UK literary magazines is required, or another way of demonstrating a thoughtful and lively UK readership. (Check out the reputable magazines page, but be aware it’s not comprehensive.)

To find out about editorial preferences, try the HappenStance blog, or the sample poems in the online shop. Or even better — buy a copy of Coming & Going, the travel anthology that has poems 103 HappenStance poets inside it. 

The advice in How (Not) to Get Your Poetry Published is as valid for this press as any other. 

Reading windows for subscribers

If you’re a HappenStance subscriber, you can send up to 6 poems by post (or 3 by email if you live outside the UK) during the ‘reading windows’ for detailed feedback. You can do this twice a year, but not more than once in any reading window. Email senders should paste the poems into the body of a message.

Please don’t send poems before the reading window starts.

Equally, please don’t wait until the very end of the reading window. They should arrive between the 6th and the 26th of the reading window month. If they arrive on the last day of the month, or later, they will come back to you looking sheepish and unread.

The next reading window is 6 — 26 January 2020.  You may notice that the windows are getting shorter. That's because the numbers of poems sent are getting bigger. So please try to time your work to arrive between these dates.

If inside Europe, you can take advantage of the electronic option: email them to me, and I will print, annotate them and return to you by snail mail. But you need to cover my costs (see 'New Option) below.

Here’s what to do during reading windows.

  • Check your subscription’s still active by logging into your online account (or emailing me if you've forgotten the password).
  • If you live inside the UK, send the appropriate number of poems by snail mail, with the right kind of stamp.
  • Large envelopes (A4) need a large letter stamp. If it’s A5 you may get away with a small one, but  check the thickness. 
  • Please use either A4 or A5 envelopes (minimise the folds in the poems).
  • Not more than one poem per page (if poems run over two pages, put ‘cont. over’ or similar at the foot of page.)
  • Enclose an SAE big enough to return the work (see Royal Mail requirements above).
  • Send no more than the stipulated number of poems. If poems are long, go by number of pages rather than poems.
  • Include your name and address discreetly on each poem sheet (see Do’s and Don’ts).
  • Please send poems typed or word processed in a size 12 font, single-spaced.
  • Don’t staple or bind the pages, or include a Contents list.
  • Include a personal note of where/if you’ve had poems published, as well as a bit about yourself (not a lengthy CV).
  • Don’t send poems that have won competitions (feedback on these is of limited use to you).

New electronic option:

Poets with a current active subscription who are driven nuts by the complexities of posting and stamping, can send 6 poems (and a covering letter outlining your context, aims and aspirations) as a single Word (preferably) or OpenOffice attachment to an email sent to nell [at], or email me via the contact box on this site and I’ll reply from my active email address. If document format is a big problem, paste the poems into the email. To cover the cost of printing and stamps and so on, you should make a donation of a fiver via the donation button on the home page, and tell me you've chosen that option in your email. The document must include name and address of poet, not least because I will be posting them back to you, with pencil responses on the poems themselves. Please ensure your poems are single-spaced and in a font no bigger than size 12. This pre-Brexit option (ha!) is open to anyone living inside Europe but only up to 28 July, 2019.

Paid Reading Service

We offer a full (paid) service for poets requiring detailed editorial feedback, and some discussion of how best to further their aspirations. Please don’t confuse this with a route into HappenStance publication. 

There isn’t time to offer the paid service to many people, so if you think it might be useful to you, send an enquiry through the contact box.

The current rate for approximately four hours of time (how this would be spent is discussed with each person) is inside the publications list, which you can download from the home page. This service is offered to subscribers only.

Alternatively, get hold of a copy of How (Not) to Get Your Poetry Published, which could save you a lot of pain, at the same time as sharing many of the unwritten rules of this frustrating business of getting poems published.

Address for submissions and enquiries:

Helena Nelson
21 Hatton Green

Fife KY7 4SD