FAQ: What do you consider ‘previously published’?

More commonly asked as: “My work has only appeared on my blog or in my school’s literary magazine. Do you consider it ‘previously published’?”

In general, yes: we consider a work previously published if it has appeared on a public blog or website, or in a high-school or college anthology, in the published results of a writing contest, etc.

We consider works that can be easily found through an Internet search to be previously published, including stories and novels published to your own blog or to Authonomy and Wattpad.

For our ongoing submission queue, it is always safest to query the editors at query@sparkanthology.org before submitting previously-published work. Unsolicited submissions of previously-published work will be declined without feedback.

Exceptions are made by solicitation only.

For contests, we ask that entries truly be unpublished works, meaning that they have not previously been made public in any form.

Note that works posted to workshopping sites like LitReactor and Scribophile are not considered “previously published” because they are not available to the general public. Only signed-in members of those sites can read posted works in progress.

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37 thoughts on “FAQ: What do you consider ‘previously published’?

    • Since Facebook is a password-protected site, That depends primarily on how it was shared. If it was made available to your friends… probably not. If it was made available to a wider audience (“Friends of Friends” or “Public”) it’s likely that we would consider the work previously published.

    • A college publication would be considered “previously published.” For contest entries, this would disqualify the work; for regular submissions, we occasionally consider exceptions on a case-by-case basis.

  1. Thank you! (I must have had a ‘refresh’ issue with my browser, because I could not see your answer before today!) Thank you for responding so promptly. I will withdraw the poem from consideration with the other publication, and just submit it here.

    • If your story has been “saved and published” (not just saved) and can be read without logging in to a Wattpad account, then it counts as having been published.

      Generally, any time it is possible for the general public to access your work, the work is published—regardless of how many people actually do access the work.

      A good rule of thumb is to do a Google search with “Wattpad” and the name of your story. If the results include a link to your story—even if it’s a couple of pages into the results list—your story has been published.

  2. Hi! I write both in english and Spanish. If I translate one of my works in Spanish (posted on a forum that can be accessed ony by password) to english, could I submit it?

      • Yes, if the forum is password-protected, you’re good no matter what. Moreover, even if the Spanish version has appeared publicly, if the English translation has not you are still very welcome to submit the translation as “unpublished.”

        Thanks for your interest!

  3. Is a piece of work considered previously published if it is included in a person’s thesis or dissertation? If it may be considered published, what if the piece of work has been revised since the inclusion in a thesis/dissertation?

    • Technically, yes: the piece is considered published if it has appeared in a thesis or dissertation. It is possible in that case to request consideration for our regular submission queue, but not for our quarterly contest.

      However, if the piece has been revised and all three people who read the thesis can assert that there are substantial differences between the published version and the revision, the revision may be eligible for entry in our writing contest.

      • I should add as a follow-up that this has happened at least once before: a work that was part of Travis Hubbs’s thesis—a short story titled “A Concerned Friend”—was accepted for publication in our companion anthology due out in November 2014. This would not have qualified for contest entry, but it’s an amazing piece that we’re honored to print, regardless of the fact that it was included in his master’s thesis.

  4. What do you consider ‘limited visibility’? I published my poems on deviantart but only very recently and they have less than 20 views each.

    • deviantART itself is a high-visibility site, but a piece that only has 20 views could be considered on a case-by-case basis. You are welcome to submit the poems, but be sure to select “previously published” under Ownership, then explain the limited visibility in the comments.


  5. Hi I was just wondering whether it is possible for me to submit a story I posted on Wattpad for my young writers’ short story entry? Or is that not allowed?

    • If it’s on Wattpad and can be viewed by anyone on the Internet (without signing in), that counts as published—because it’s available to the public.

      When you post work online to a site or blog that requires signing in to view the text, it is not considered published.

  6. I have a poem that I was thinking about entering into the current contest but I’m not sure if it qualifies as “previously published” or not. I wrote this poem for a class assignment, in my poetry writing class at university, and it was put into a broadside anthology at the end of the semester. The only people that saw it were my professor and classmates. So I was wondering if you would consider this previously published or not.

    • Sorry for the slow reply.

      For classroom-assignment collections where the result was not distributed beyond the members of the class, you may consider the work unpublished. However, if the anthology was made available to other university students or to people outside the school—basically, anyone who was not a contributor or directly involved in the class—then you should consider the work previously published.

      Hope that helps! Thanks very much for your interest.

  7. Wonder if you can help me here… I have had stories published online in a password access social site writing group, and did allow non members to read a few (sadly cannot recall which were open to public reading).
    Within a couple of years the site closed its social side and went commercial, killing off all our home pages, group pages, and “published” stories.
    Would such stories – which by now haven’t been “up” for about four or five years now, be considered published if entered or submitted?
    The sites were multiply.com, and blogster.com

    • If you cannot find copies of the stories via internet search or on http://archive.org/web/ we will consider the works “not previously published” for purposes of submission to Spark or entry in our contests. However, keep in mind other publishers may feel differently, so this response only applies to Empire & Great Jones Little Press and its publications, not any other market.

  8. If I entered a piece in a contest and it advances to national judging (but those results don’t come out until March) will it still be considered unpublished? Or should I wait until the national results come out before sending in my piece

    • If it has not been accepted by another publication or selected in another contest, it is not considered published. If the contest makes the content of your entry available for the public to read, we would consider it published at that time.

  9. I have a small grouping of poems I am interested in submitting to your poetry contest, but I have read 3-6 minute excerpts from them aloud on two different occasions. The first occasion was for a read aloud contest– they got accepted to be read aloud to a group of about 30-40 people. The second occasion was at a writer’s retreat with the same amount of people. Neither time have they been published in writing– just read aloud. Thanks for your help….

  10. If I were to remove my stories from a public website, would they still be classified as “previously published”?

    • In general, yes—especially if it was on the site long enough that it was indexed by search engines and can still be found by searching with Google.

      If there’s no way anyone can find it online and no way to prove that it was publicly available for a while, you could probably sneak something by most publishers. But … starting off the business relationship with a little white lie is probably not a good idea.

      • Ahah. One more question- are there exceptions made from time to time in a (hypothetical) situation such as this?

      • The right thing to do in this case is contact query@egjpress.org to ask about it, or, even better: leave what you’ve previously posted publicly—since it is probably an important part of what got you where you are as a writer—then write something new and send the new work out to appropriate writing markets you can find on Duotrope. (Including us.)

  11. If I have a previous, unedited version of my story uploaded (such as the first draft on wattpad) and I submit a revised and edited version of the work (for example, a fourth draft) would it still count as being previously published?

  12. Are Poems that I have posted on my Facebook for Friends to see(Not Public Posted) considered published?

    Would literary magazine still take them(assuming they are good enough quality) if they had been posted for a limited audience on Facebook.

    • Most of the rules I see mention public audiences, but I am unsure of just what is considered “public” and “private” audiences

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