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How to Get Published in Apprentice Writer

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

a female student studying with her laptop and looking at the camera

How to Get Published in Apprentice Writer

Apprentice Writer celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2022. That’s four decades of nurturing and showcasing creative talents, making it one of the most prestigious platforms for aspiring writers and artists around the globe.

If you want to be part of the magazine’s legacy, read on. We’ll share with you what makes Apprentice Writer so special, its submission guidelines, and some tips to help you shine as you submit your work.

What Is Apprentice Writer?

Apprentice Writer is where you’ll find the best writing and illustrations from high schoolers across the US and around the world. Sponsored by the Writers Institute at Susquehanna University, this magazine stands out because it accepts both literary and visual artworks.

a female student studying inside a library

The team behind it wants to see your short stories, personal essays, poetry, photos, and more. If your work gets accepted, you could even win an award. Outstanding writers in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry snag $200, and there’s $50 for runners-up in each category.

The magazine comes out every fall. It used to be a print publication, with about 11,000 copies sent to schools. But in 2022, it went fully online. Even so, it’s still a big deal for young writers to be featured in it. The acceptance rate is only about 3%, so getting in is a major achievement.

Apprentice Writer Submission Guidelines

Apprentice Writer accepts submissions exclusively from high school students anywhere in the world. If you plan to submit, here are the general guidelines to keep in mind:

Submission limits

You can submit across multiple genres, but you’re limited to 5 submissions per genre. The genres include:

  • Fiction and nonfiction: Think short stories and flash fiction, as well as personal essays and memoirs.
  • Poetry: Whether it’s traditional, free verse, haiku, or something else, they’re interested.
  • Photography and art: From photos to drawings, paintings to digital art, they’re open to it all.

Simultaneous submissions

Apprentice Writer accepts simultaneous submissions. This means that you can send your work to other magazines while you wait to hear back from them. Just give them a heads-up if another magazine accepts your piece. They’ll decide whether to still publish it or give credit to the first magazine.

If you want to republish your work later, make sure to tell the new publisher that it was first published in Apprentice Writer.

Submission period

They usually start accepting submissions from October to February. For example, in the last call, they were open from October 24, 2022, to February 14, 2023. After you submit, you can expect to hear back from them within 4-8 months. Keep an eye on their submission page for the link to submit your work.

Now that you’re familiar with the general guidelines, let’s delve into the specifics for each genre:

Fiction and nonfiction submissions

  • Documents must be single-spaced, using Times New Roman, 12pt. font.
  • Your cover page should include your Name, Email, and Title.
  • File names should follow this format: Last Name, First Initial (Genre), Title. For example: Russell, K. (Fiction), Haunting Olivia.
  • Each submission should include only 1 story or personal essay.
  • Fiction and nonfiction submissions are considered one genre. You could, for instance, submit 3 fiction and 2 nonfiction pieces—5 in total. But you can’t mix them beyond that.

Poetry submissions

  • Documents must be single-spaced, using Times New Roman, 12pt. font.
  • Your cover page should include your Name, Email, and Title.
  • File names should follow this format: Last Name, First Initial (Genre), Title. For example: Allen Poe, E. (Poetry), The Raven.
  • Each submission should include only 1 poem.

Photography and art submissions

  • Photos should have a minimum of 300 px and can be in color or black and white.
  • All mediums of visual art are welcome.

A woman using a camera.

  • File names should follow this format: Last Name, First Initial (Genre), Title. For example: Widener, J. (Photography), Tank Man.
  • Each submission should include only 1 photo or artwork.
  • Photography and art fall under one genre. For example, you could submit up to 2 photographs and 3 digital art pieces, totaling 5 entries. However, you can’t mix them beyond that.

Remember, your entries won’t be considered if they don’t adhere to these guidelines. So, make sure to follow them closely. If you have any questions about submissions or anything else, shoot Apprentice Writer an email at [email protected].

Tips to Get into Apprentice Writer

To get into Apprentice Writer, it’s cool to hear from someone who’s already done it. Let’s see what we can learn from an interview with Karen Lu, a student from Ranney School who got published in the 36th edition of the magazine with her piece, “Yours Truly.”

1. Find unique inspiration.

Get inspired in your own unique way. Lu got her spark from watching “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” Look for themes or ideas that really speak to you and dive into them. Inspiration can come from anywhere—maybe a childhood memory, a dream, or even something you overheard.

Take a common theme and give it your own twist. For example, if you’re thinking about writing about love, think about how you can show it in a totally new light.

2. Craft a compelling narrative.

Think about creative ways to tell your story. “Yours Truly” is written in the form of letters, giving the main character a chance to spill their thoughts and feelings.

Try out different narrative styles to keep your readers hooked. You could turn your story into a diary entry, a string of emails, or even a series of tweets. Consider how your choice of style can make your story more compelling and draw readers into your world.

3. Express emotions and themes.

Lu’s piece dives into big ideas like freedom, oppression, and mental health. Let your writing convey deep feelings and complex ideas that matter to you.

Use colorful language and vivid images to paint a picture of these emotions and themes. Instead of just saying a character is sad, show it through what they do and how they interact. For instance, you could describe how their shoulders droop or how their voice shakes when they talk.

4. Showcase growth.

The main character in “Yours Truly” goes through some serious ups and downs in how they think and feel. To make your story really stand out, focus on showing personal growth or change.

Develop characters who go through big transformations as your story unfolds. Maybe they start to see the world differently, or their relationships shift in unexpected ways. Show these changes happening little by little, shaped by what’s happening around them.

5. Submit meaningful work.

Lu sent in “Yours Truly” because mental health is a topic she really cares about. When you submit your work, make sure it’s something that really matters to you.

a woman looking calm breathing the air

Pick pieces that have a personal meaning. For instance, you could write about an experience that changed you, or a subject that you’re super passionate about. Your writing will pack a bigger punch if it’s coming from the heart.

6. Share your voice.

Writing is your chance to speak your mind and connect with others. Use it to get people thinking and maybe even change some minds.

Share your unique take on things without holding back. Don’t shy away from tough topics or saying things that might not be popular. Your voice is what makes your writing special, so let it be heard loud and clear in your work.

Now, here are some specific tips for each type of writing that Apprentice Writer is looking for:

Fiction tips

  • Want to grab your readers’ attention from the get-go? Start your story with a bang. Instead of saying something like “She walked into the room,” try kicking off with “The room was packed with people, but her presence cut through the crowd like a knife.”
  • When you’re crafting characters, make them real and relatable. Give them distinct personalities, clear motivations, and realistic flaws. For example, create a character who battles self-doubt but still finds the courage to push forward. That kind of depth makes them more relatable and engaging.
  • To really set the scene, use descriptive language that appeals to the senses. If your character’s in a forest, describe the scent of pine, the sound of rustling leaves, and the rough texture of bark under their fingertips.
  • Show, don’t tell. Instead of just saying a character is scared, show their fear through their actions and reactions. Describe their racing heartbeat, sweaty palms, and nervous glances to really bring their emotions to life.
  • Don’t forget to keep your readers on the edge of their seats. Build suspense and tension throughout your story by throwing in obstacles and conflicts that keep your characters from reaching their goals. This will keep your readers hooked until the very end.

Nonfiction tips

  • Find a unique angle or perspective that makes your piece stand out. Instead of just another travel guide, why not share your own travel adventures and how they changed your view of the world?
  • To spice up your nonfiction, use personal stories or real-life examples to illustrate your points. If you’re talking about overcoming a challenge, dive into the nitty-gritty details of how you faced it head-on and came out stronger. It’ll really hit home with your readers.
  • Keep your ideas organized and your writing flowing smoothly. Start with a clear intro that sets the stage, then lay out your main points in a logical order. Use transitions between paragraphs to keep your readers hooked and following along.
  • Be real, be you. Share your true thoughts and feelings. Readers dig authenticity, so don’t hold back. Show some vulnerability, share those personal insights—it’ll make your writing way more relatable and engaging.
  • Wrap it up with a bow. Give your readers something to chew on, whether it’s a life lesson, a practical tip, or just a fresh perspective. Concrete takeaways will make your writing stick with them long after they’ve finished reading.

A student studying

Poetry tips

  • Try out different forms and structures to see what clicks with your style. Give free verse, sonnets, or haikus a shot to see which one speaks to your message. If you’re painting nature, a haiku’s simplicity might capture its vibe better than a sonnet’s strict rules.
  • Make your poetry pop with vivid imagery and figurative language. Metaphors, similes, and descriptive words can paint a picture in your reader’s mind. Instead of just saying “the sunset was pretty,” go for “the sky was a painting of blazing colors, casting a golden glow over everything.”
  • In poetry, rhythm and sound are your pals. Play with alliteration (repeating consonant sounds) and assonance (repeating vowel sounds) to add a musical touch. Experiment with syllable stresses to create a flow that pulls readers in.
  • Use symbols and metaphors to add depth to your poems. Instead of stating emotions outright, use symbols to add layers of meaning. For example, a “broken mirror” could symbolize inner turmoil or shattered dreams.
  • Don’t forget to edit. Pay close attention to every word choice and line break. Each word should carry weight, so pick them wisely. Focus on line breaks, punctuation, and spacing to craft the rhythm and flow you’re aiming for.

Visual art

  • When you’re picking subjects, go for stuff that really gets you pumped. Your passion will shine through in your work, making it more captivating for your audience. If you’re all about nature, maybe focus on capturing landscapes or painting wildlife to show off the beauty of the great outdoors.
  • Pay attention to how you compose your art, how you frame it, and how you use lighting to make your images pop. Try different angles, perspectives, and lighting setups to add depth and interest. You could follow the rule of thirds for your photos or play with lighting to set the mood in your paintings.
  • Get wild with your techniques and styles to develop your own unique flair. Don’t be afraid to try new things. Maybe dip your toes into abstract photography or mix different media to create art that’s totally you.
  • Use color, texture, and form to evoke feelings and atmosphere in your art. Colors can stir up different emotions, so think about the vibe you want and pick your palette accordingly. Also, consider how textures and forms add to the story or message of your piece.
  • Make sure your art has a clear message that comes across to viewers. Your art should tell a story or convey a message that really hits home. Take some time to think about the concept behind your work and how you can use visual elements to bring it to life.

Apprentice Writer: Sample Outstanding Works

If you want to see what catches the eye of the Apprentice Writer, check out their recent winners:

  • Fiction: Katherine Sedlock-Reiner’s short story “Patina
  • Nonfiction: Claire Nam’s essay “Peakheight
  • Poetry: Christina Campbell’s “Genetics

In particular, Campbell’s poem really stands out because it dives deep into family dynamics and personal struggles in a way that feels super relatable.

Writer typing with retro writing machine. View from above.

Right from the start, it grabs you with this idea of passing down genetic material, making you think about your own family tree. The descriptions, like comparing the great-grandmother to a porcelain Virgin Mary, are so vivid—they really paint a picture of her and the family’s history. And those black and white photos being like trophies? That’s such a cool way to show how important those memories are.

As the poem goes on, it’s like you’re flipping through a family photo album, seeing these moments that shape the poet’s identity. From the grandma cooking for a big family to the tense moments with the mom, it’s all so real and raw.

And that ending, where the poet decides to break away from the family’s “genetic template,” it’s like a powerful moment of self-discovery. The whole poem just feels so personal and honest, and it’s that emotional depth that really makes it shine.

Conclusion

For over four decades, Apprentice Writer has been the place to be for high school writers and artists worldwide. If you’re aiming to get featured, it’s key to grasp the submission guidelines and genre-specific tips. This helps make sure your work is both meaningful and genuine. So, if you’re a young writer or artist looking for a place to showcase your creativity, Apprentice Writer is the spot for you.

FAQs

Who can submit to Apprentice Writer?

Only high school students or those who are still in high school at the time of submission can submit to Apprentice Writer. It’s a great opportunity for young talents to showcase their work and get recognized.

What works does Apprentice Writer accept?

Apprentice Writer is open to a wide range of creative writing and visual artworks. These include short stories, personal essays, poetry, photography, and all kinds of visual art you can imagine.

What is Apprentice Writer’s acceptance rate?

Apprentice Writer’s acceptance rate is actually quite low, around 3%. It’s pretty tough to get your work accepted. But if you do, it’s a big deal.

Who hosts Apprentice Writer?

The magazine is run by the Writers Institute at Susquehanna University. They provide this prestigious platform for high school creatives to shine.

Does Apprentice Writer accept multiple submissions?

Yes, Apprentice Write accept multiple submissions. You can submit to different genres, but there’s a limit of 5 submissions per genre.

If you mean simultaneous submissions, Apprentice Writer also accepts that. This means you can submit your work to other magazines at the same time. Just make sure to inform Apprentice Writer if your work gets accepted elsewhere. They’ll decide whether to still publish it or give credit to the first magazine.

How often does Apprentice Writer publish?

Apprentice Writer publishes once a year, every fall in September. If you’re planning to submit, keep an eye out for their submission period, which typically runs from October to February.

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