Announcing Some Changes to our Submission Policies to Serve You Better
Welcome to Asymptote’s submission portal. With immediate effect from March 1, 2021, we are introducing two new features for our submission mechanism: (1) guaranteed turnaround time of one month for submission outcomes and (2) the possibility of requesting editorial feedback on your submission.
We will no longer be accepting submissions via the firstname.lastname@example.org email address. Instead, all submissions will have to go through this portal (scroll down below to submit your work), where a USD10 submission fee applies to each work entered into our system, and it is possible to request editorial feedback for an additional USD6 per work (available for fiction and poetry submissions only).
As a global team ourselves, we recognize that for many writers and translators even these small fees may be a financial burden, and so we are keeping submissions free for those based in Africa or translating work from African countries (we may offer exemptions for other regions in future, but right now, we are focused on increasing African representation in our pages). By contrast, we will no longer be considering work by Singaporean authors or translators, due to discriminatory policies by Singapore’s National Arts Council (NAC) that do not serve the wider literary ecosystem (Singapore is where Asymptote is currently incorporated, although this may change in future). As communicated to Rosa Daniel, CEO of the NAC, we welcome the opportunity to reverse this decision anytime organizational funding (such as that given by the U.S. National Endowment for the Arts to Words Without Borders) is made available.
We know that these changes might come as a surprise to many of our regular submitters, but this decision was taken with careful consideration, and with the goal to provide value to all who submit work, not just those whose work we publish while curating to the highest standards and for the greatest impact (creative work is typically accompanied by guest artist illustrations while others reach new audiences via podcasts or educational guides). Publication in Asymptote has been cited on many a book jacket (including Nobel Prize winner Olga Tokarczuk’s Booker International Prize-winning Flights). Closely watched by acquisitions editors at publishing houses, hundreds of submissions that first appeared on our site have gone on to secure book deals and even lucrative grants.
Hear what past contributor and 2017 Daesan Foundation grant winner Anton Hur has to say about his experience submitting Jung Young-Su’s “Aficionados,” which made the cover of our Fall 2016 issue alongside Stefan Zweig, László Krasznahorkai, and Anita Raja:
Thanks to Asymptote, I have USD15,000 in the bank and a contract to translate the rest of Mr. Jung’s short story collection… If that wasn’t amazing enough, my Asymptote publication got me another book translation deal. Because Asymptote is on the web and free to the public, the global public no less, the story has become a calling card of sorts; when agents and editors ask about my work, I simply point them to the Asymptote story (‘You can hear my literal voice, too, just click the recording!’)”
Asymptote changed my life. They were willing to go the distance for a completely unknown writer (unknown even in his own country!), adding his name on an advertisement in the Times Literary Supplement and in their beautiful promotional emails. They give translated literature, which is difficult to market given the resistance from Anglophone readers to anything in translation, a glamor and excitement, making our work look and feel urgent and current.
Finally, it would be disingenuous of us to leave out the fact that submission fees are now necessary because financial support—both from institutions and readers alike—has not been as forthcoming as we had hoped, despite our ten years of advocating for a more inclusive world literature, a London Book Fair Award, and an 18-month partnership with The Guardian under our belt. Of all the alternatives we considered (including charging access to the website), this is the one that we have settled on because it provides the least disruption to our model of catalyzing the transmission of world literature while helping us cope with the great volume of submissions we receive on a daily basis. If enough sustaining and masthead members sign up in the future, we may be able to offer free submissions again. If you would like to help us toward this goal of reinstating free submissions, please consider getting involved with our mission today.
For full submission guidelines, please go to our Submission guidelines page here. Categories below pertain to sections in our quarterly issues, accessible from our archive here. Fiction and Poetry submissions may be considered for the Translation Tuesday showcase at the blog if not deemed suitable for our issues—and may be published there after permission from the submitter has been sought.
We look forward to reviewing your work and serving you better. In the meantime, subscribe to our newsletter, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and our two Instagram feeds, keep up with the latest via our daily blog!
You may include one or more works of short fiction or excerpts of a longer work translated into English, but please send no more than 5,000 words by only one author in total.
For works of literary nonfiction such as memoir and travel writing, submissions must be work translated into English. Despatch typically must involve some translation from a foreign language (e.g. excerpts from an interview). However, essays about translation may be written in English. We will also accept the occasional essay in English about literature that takes into account the global context we live in.
When submitting, please send a single document with the following materials in the following order: the original text, the translated text, and bios for both the author(s) and translator(s). And please use single-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman font with non-indented paragraphs.
Please send up to 10 pages of poetry by one author translated into English. If the originals are included in the submission, the length of the entire document may reach 20 pages (that is, a maximum of 10 pages of translated work accompanied by 10 pages of original material). Please start each poem or section of a long poem on a new page unless the work absolutely demands to be read without page breaks.
Brave New World Literature Feature
To mark our second decade, we will switch out our permanent Writers on Writers Feature with a Brave New World Literature showcase (see our Winter 2021 issue for examples of work we have already published under the aegis of this Feature). We invite essays from readers, critics, translators engaging with and problematizing the very concept of “world literature.” Topics might include: the trend toward a more decentralized curation even as English remains dominant in world literature (as evidenced by the number of English-speaking Nobel laureates in the last decade alone), online literary journals and the role they play in curation, hegemonic statuses of texts determined by a predominantly white publishing industry (and the associated “danger of a single story”), the concept of the global novel, notions of center and periphery, major and minor literature, advocacy for underrepresented voices in world literature, modes of circulating world literature, canonization, literary gatekeeping, and even the question of institutional funding. All other guidelines apply. Rolling deadline.
Publishing new translations and daily writings on world literature and culture, the Asymptote blog looks for voice, spontaneity, and topicality in its postings. We welcome regular and one-time contributors, and publish essays, dispatches from international literary events, interviews, weekly new translations, and book reviews. Our regular features include a children's literature-in-translation column by M. Lynx Qualey, Florian Duijsens's Pop around the world, which takes a fresh look at pop music and translation, and essays about publishing literature in translation.
Variety is our bread-and-butter, so if you have something new you're itching to say, please send us a proposal. We'll get back to you with feedback within ten days:
if we like what we see, we will let you know about a posting schedule shortly after that. Rolling deadline.
This portal may only be used for contributors either based in Africa or translating work from African authors only. Please make sure that the genre of your submission is stated clearly in your submission. Microsoft Word attachments must be labeled with the last names of the author and translator: authortranslator.doc.