Writers’ Guidelines

A Lengthy Prologue

One of the best parts of editing a small, specialized (not to say quirky) magazine is reading the submissions to it. One of the worst parts of editing a small, unusual (not to say eccentric) magazine is reading the submissions to it. Lately, as VERBATIM comes (back) to the attention of more and more people, the number of submissions in both categories has been rising. A mention in Poets Roundtable has led to a massive influx of verse, much of it . . . inappropriate, but has also given us one or two gems. Notice of the magazine in other writers’ periodicals has resulted in query letters, submissions, prison correspondence, and random pieces of suspicious mail, as well as a few new subscribers. (Welcome!)

Here, briefly, is our editorial policy. I am frequently asked how I choose what appears in VERBATIM. I refrain from answering “by Magic Eight Ball,” although I understand that it may sometimes appear as if that is, in fact, our editorial method. I look for articles that explain and illuminate without condescending; that are funny; that are moving; that are fascinating; that are less than 3,000 words; that are all of the above. I sometimes strong-arm learned professors into writing about their areas of expertise, and I accept unsolicited manuscripts from people with no academic credentials at all. I ask readers (in surveys and in private communications) what subjects interest them, and I search out that material.

There are some kinds of articles that I am always interested in, that in many cases I have asked for, and that have not yet come into my hands: Articles on the insider jargons of professions: best boys, dental hygienists, taxidermists, sous-chefs, prison wardens . . . Articles about the history of grammar “rules” … Articles about bygone language theories. And there are many more on my wish list.

If there are topics we haven’t covered on your wish list, please send those ideas to me. If you want to see a particular person’s byline in VERBATIM, send that in as well. In fact, suggestions of any kind are welcome (although there’s a limit to the number of times we can act on “go soak your head!”) to any of our snail-mail or email addresses, or even by phone. Request away! I’ll be here, reading.

General Information

VERBATIM is published for popular consumption. That does not mean that it does not publish articles on language that are scholarly, merely that it is not designed to appeal primarily to academicians (though many subscribe). VERBATIM publishes original articles dealing with any aspect of language.

If you are unsure about the suitability of your subject matter, please email the Editor at editor@verbatimmag.com with a query. Please do not phone. It is a very good idea to query the Editor regarding subject matter in order to avoid rejection on the grounds that an article on the same or a similar subject was previously published. The acceptance of any material for publication is at the discretion of the Editor. Remember, we do not accept fiction! Sample copies are available upon receipt of US$2.00 to defray postage.

How to Submit an Article

We have a NEW Submissions Manager online! Please submit your work here: Submissions Manager Please also include three or four lines of biographical information about yourself. PC or Mac documents are both fine, but please: no WordPerfect (if you use WordPerfect please send RTF files). We no longer accept hardcopy submissions or submissions on disk by mail. Under no circumstances will handwritten MS be read. Instead, it will be roundly ridiculed, unless it is written using the Palmer method, in which case it will be stared at in amazement.

Again, query, query, query!

A Note On Formatting

Very important: when discussing a word, the word discussed should be italic, and any gloss or definition should be in single quotes, like this: “The word blurgle, ‘inchoate noise,’ is a favorite of mine.” VERBATIM uses American punctuation style with regard to quotation marks; but assumes that British authors will use British spellings, etc.

Response and Payment

An editorial response can be expected in four to six weeks. Log in to the Submissions Manager to check on the status of your submission. Feel free to nag if you have not heard from us after eight weeks. Articles are sometimes forwarded to our independent readers for decisions. Payment is made at the time of publication, and ranges from $25 to $500, depending on length, wit, and other merit.


Only original material, not previously published, will be considered. (Please query the Editor if you wish to submit an extract or reworking of your previously published material.) VERBATIM automatically acquires all rights; the entire contents of each issue is copyright by VERBATIM worldwide. Reprint rights may be obtained only from VERBATIM. Any income from reprint rights is paid to authors in full up to $50. Over $50, VERBATIM takes 20%, remitting the rest to the author. We encourage authors to submit works published in VERBATIM to other magazines and papers that are interested and invariably grant permission for reprints requested by the author. VERBATIM must be named as place of first publication. The author always has the right to publish without charge his or her own article(s) in a collection of his or her own works, but written permission must be obtained (to ensure proper copyright notice and credit). VERBATIM does not charge a permissions fee for educational use of reprints, but, again, written permission is required.



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