Inventing YA Short Form

Image based on “The Idea Machine” by Will Hastings (

Let me being by saying that Catherine Gilbert Murdock is a rock star for writing a brand spanking new piece for us to publish this fall, when she had a book coming out and everything!  A very busy time for most writers.

I think my friends at regular adult literary journals would be amazed to discover that when we solicit writing from well-known YA writers, almost none of them have unpublished stories or essays hanging out on their hard drives ready to share with us.  Even with the plethora of adult journals out there, competition to get published in the best of them is fierce.  This means that even famous writers have unloved stories waiting for the right opportunity to come along.  And aspiring writers make time for short forms while they toil away on their novels so they can gather publishing credits at well known journals.  Not so in the world of YA, apparently.

And I think the reason is that YARN is literally helping to invent YA short form.

I know, it’s major, isn’t it?

This wasn’t my goal, exactly, when I founded the journal.  I just wanted to provide a market to YA writers that didn’t exist before.  But it turns out that when you do one new thing, other new things result.  Because there really wasn’t much of a market for short-form YA before YARN, no one was writing it.  No demand, no supply.

Well, not no demand or supply.  There are of course a handful of other YA lit mags, and some very good collections of YA story stories and essays out there (“Geektastick” comes to mind), but those books are gigs that pay, unlike the world of literary journals where the labor is largely of love, not money.  As a result, where do you usually think of looking for short works for teens?  Geektastic and the like first, and then…..Yep: textbooks.  Lame, we know.  Especially when short stories, essays, and poems are works of art!

All of this means that sometimes we don’t have quite as much fresh YARN as we would like.  Now, if you are a writer whom we rejected this summer, please don’t take this personally; remember that we are only one journal and one opinion, and reading submissions is highly subjective;  also, send us more!  Maybe we’ll like the next one.  Seriously.

I hope this blog will galvanize all you YARN-fans to tell every writer you know to SUBMIT TO YARN.  And remember my other blog, “Are you a YA Writer and You Don’t Even Know It?”  Keep that in mind, too—many writers don’t think of themselves as YA writers, but they might have a story or essay or poem perfect for teens.  We’d love to see that stuff; send it our way.

For our part, we’ll be doing everything we can to reach out to the larger world of YA-lovers so that we can bring you more fresh YARN.  We’ve been pretty short staffed in our first two years, but we’re expanding and we hope that our interns and Editorial Liaison (yo, Bradley!) will help us spread our wings.

And be patient with us.  We are helping to invent YA short form!  So that teens of today and the future don’t think a short story is a relic to be found in a textbook.

Kerri Majors, EditorThanks for hanging with us, and for spreading the word.


Subscribe / Share

2 Comments Post a Comment
  1. RBHarkess says:

    Curious. I found the other way around. All my other short form has been for adult readers, and I found any number of publications to submit to.
    After realising how much I like writing YA, I put together a couple of short form stories, looked for somewhere to place them, and found very little in the way of targets. What I did find tended to be looking for stories so short nothing of mine would ‘fit’ (I tend to write short form around 4000-6000 words).

    Memo to self: Must look harder

  2. Kerri says:

    RB–it doesn’t seem like your experience is “the other way around.”

Leave a Reply

What Is YARN?

It's a brilliant thing to have a place where you can read fresh original short stories by both seasoned YA authors and aspiring teens. YARN is a great tool box for growing up writing. - Cecil Castellucci

Imagine. Envision. Write. Revise. Submit. Read.

YARN is an award-winning literary journal that publishes outstanding original short fiction, poetry, and essays for Young Adult readers, written by the writers you know and love, as well as fresh new voices...including teens.

We also believe in feedback, which is why we encourage readers to post comments on pieces that inspire thought, emotion, laughter...or whatever.

So. What's your YARN?

Vocab Conundrum?

Highlight a word, click the "?," and quench your curiosity. How about "hibernaculum?" Go ahead, try it!

Subscribe By Email

Send a blank email to subscriptions@....

Publication Archive