Embark: A Literary Journal for Novelists
From the Editor
Embark is a literary journal designed for novelists and featuring exclusively novel beginnings—those crucial first pages that must engage the reader’s attention and often receive more polishing than any other part of the book. We believe that crafting the opening of a novel is an art in itself, and that reading beginnings can be both inspiring and delightful. If you prefer novels to short stories, love collecting first sentences, and enjoy reading the opening pages of any book that comes to hand, Embark is for you! And if you’re a writer working on your first or fifth or fifteenth book, Embark offers you a chance to share your latest project with fellow writers and readers.
Issues of Embark are released quarterly on this website. Every issue includes ten novel beginnings, each accompanied by a brief Author’s Statement that might offer a summary of the plot, the intentions behind the novel, a meditation on its theme—whatever the author feels is most important or meaningful about the project.
We welcome submissions from writers of every genre; our emphasis is on engaging characters, intriguing situations, and polished, elegant prose. Moreover, we recognize that good writing is not an absolute: what works in one genre often seems out of place in another; the modern vernacular of a YA novel might differ dramatically from the descriptive passages in a work of historical fiction, but both books can still be extraordinary. To give a sense of the varied writing that we publish, here is a description from Ursula DeYoung, Embark’s founding editor, of the openings featured in our first issue: “Readers will find an array of genres, from science fiction to surrealism, from the story of a would-be saint to a suspenseful police thriller. The characters are similarly wide-ranging: mothers, teachers, doctors, robbers, an officer on a spaceship, a teenage composer. What unites all ten openings is their power to engage the reader and deliver the unexpected. With each one, I found myself forgetting the pile of others to be read, the need to judge and assess; instead I simply floated along on the author’s confident prose, appreciating the vivid imagery, startling plot twists, and amusing or intriguing dialogue. I identified with the characters and felt eager to learn what would happen to them. In other words, I experienced what every effective opening should create—the desire to read on.”
A submission to Embark should consist of two parts:
(1) The opening of your novel: minimum 2,500 words, maximum 4,000 words. The novel in question must be unpublished at the time of submission. It may be partially or completely written, but in either case you should have a firm sense of its overarching themes and structure. We are looking for polished, confident work that reflects clear authorial intention.
(2) An Author’s Statement: minimum 250 words, maximum 500 words. You can interpret this however you like, discussing the book’s plot, themes, aims, inspiration, etc. Whatever your focus, though, the statement should give the reader a good sense of what the novel is all about and why you chose to write it. It should be more thorough than a blurb, more personal than a synopsis. Above all, it should demonstrate careful thought about the novel’s structure and eventual impact.
We accept only Word documents, which you should email to us with a brief cover email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your cover email should include only basic biographical information (2-3 sentences) and the title and genre of your novel. Beyond that, your opening and Author’s Statement should speak for themselves.
We will not consider openings that have been previously submitted to Embark and turned down. Also, in the interests of featuring the work of as many writers as possible, we will not consider additional submissions from writers whose work we have already published in an earlier issue.
Writers whose submissions are accepted will retain all rights to their work.
We will do our best to respond to your submission within two to three months of receiving it.
We have four submission deadlines per year: March 15, June 15, September 15, and December 15.
Editors Name Ursula DeYoung
Print publication? No
Circulation Over 2000
Do you take online submissions? Yes
Submission Guidelines URL https://embarkliteraryjournal.com/submissions/
Approx. Response Time? 1-3 months
How often do you publish? Four times per year
Year Founded? 2017
Do you pay? No