Start Your Journey
Getting involved with What’s Your Story? is free and easy. Our online magazine has three themed submission windows a year. All work submitted will receive personal professional feedback from our editorial board and will be considered for publication. You can only submit one piece of work per issue, so choose wisely!
Get your journey started by following the steps below.
1. Create an Account
Create a pen name ( What is a pen name? )
What is a Pen Name?
Pen names have been used by writers and illustrators for a very long time. A pen name can hide your real identity or may be a useful writing alias. There are many, many reasons why people may use one - from their own safety, to playing a game with their audience, to managing themselves like a brand! Here are three examples of pen names.
...is a pen name of J.K. Rowling. When she wanted to continue her writing career beyond Harry Potter, she used this pen name to hide her famous identity so that her crime novels could be judged on their own merits.
Iain M. Banks
...was a pen name of Iain Banks. Confused? Both of these were Iain Banks' actual names, but he would include his adopted middle initial whenever he wrote books that were from the Sci-Fi genre.
...was Charlotte Brontë's pen name. Charlotte and her sisters all used male pen names to hide the fact they were women from a prejudiced Victorian audience. Speculation around the real identities of the Bells fuelled sales and critical debate of their books.
You have the option of using a pen name for public display on What's Your Story? Think about if this is something you want to do, and your reasons for using a pen name. Choose your name carefully! Remember, if you have work published with us you can point to it in years to come as part of your creative portfolio. But maybe not so much if your work is published under the pen name AnnoyingTiger99...
What is a biography?
Like a pen name, a writer or illustrator’s biography is an important part of presenting themselves and their work to an audience. Think of the author biographies you read inside book jackets, or on the social media profiles of illustrators you like. Do you think it matters to readers to know that John Grisham – who writes legal thrillers – was a lawyer for many years? Does it make a difference to people enjoying Emily Carroll’s gothic graphic novels and videogames that her biography is an illustration of her as a half-monstrous lady?
Think about what is important for your audience to know about you, and what is not important for them to know. For instance, if you’re writing a story about snowboarding, and are a snowboarder yourself, this might help readers to believe in your passion for that part of your story and to believe that you’ll describe the snowboarding well!
Don’t put really personal information in your biography, remember this is something that could be made public if you are published in the magazine. Always remember to think about this in terms of what you want strangers to know about you.
Confirm your account
Check next submission dates
Submissions are open for the Keys issue. Find out more about the theme and submit your work now!
2. Submit your work
Select your form ( What is form? )
What is form?
"Form" is the format you work in. Is it a screenplay? Is it a short story? Is it a twelve-page comic book? Is it a podcast, or a video for Youtube, or a recording of a slam poem? Is it a story you have to tell face to face? You can think of form as the shape of the thing you are making.
"Genre" is the content of your story. If form is was way of describing the shape of your story, then genre is a way of describing the contents. Genre can include categories like Science-Fiction, Romance, Comedy, Literary Fiction, Fantasy or Tragedy.
Your submission to our magazine can potentially have multiple genres (like a Sci-Fi Comedy) but will only have one form in which it is presented to the magazine’s audience.
For example; a haiku is a special kind of poem with exact rules about its number of lines and syllables per line. We would call a haiku a form of poetry, not a genre of poetry. Compare this with an elegy, which is a poem which is about the specific subject of mourning. An elegy is a genre of poetry.
Prepare your work
Take a deep breath and submit!
We organise the submissions
We gather the editorial board
Editorial board reads your work
Your feedback is gathered
Work selected for magazine
4. Get Professional Feedback
Receive feedback alert
Log in to view your feedback
Find out if your work has been selected for our magazine
5. Magazine Published
6. Keep Creating
Think about your feedback
You did it! You were creative and then you were courageous and now you've got the feedback to prove it. Showing your work to other people can be nerve-wracking no matter how old you are, or how many years you've been doing it, but the benefit is huge because now you have some understanding of what your audience think of your work.
Here is how to make the most of your feedback:
- Read it several times. Make sure that you are understanding what it actually says to you, and aren’t so excited or nervous you find yourself misunderstanding it.
- Give yourself space to think about it. Take the time to go for a walk, or sit quietly thinking about this feedback. This will help you to put it in context, and not rush to take action which you can’t have thought through.
- Re-read your work while thinking about the feedback. Do you now have a better understanding of how a person new to your work will interpret it? This can take a long time to do, so set aside the time and be patient with yourself and the feedback.
- Figure out if you agree with the feedback. You might not, in the end! We are providing you with professional editorial feedback on your work, but that does not mean it is the absolute "final word" on what you have created or how to make it better. This is your work, this is for you to decide.
- Take action in response to your feedback. Try to re-write or edit the piece - or to create something new - with the feedback in mind. This doesn't mean to do what the feedback says like a robot, but it does mean to keep that perspective in mind while you develop your work. This is how you bring new depth and dimension to your creative work.
- Remember, somebody who cares about your future as a creative person made this feedback for you. They don’t know you, but they do care very much about helping you to develop with as many good resources as possible – and feedback is one of the most precious of all. So please respect your feedback and make use of it, this is the most valuable experience What’s Your Story? can give you and we hope it will help you to find your footing in your creative life.
Find other opportunities
Don't stop now - there are lots of opportunities out there for young writers and illustrators. Keep checking Scottish Book Trust's Young Writers page to discover the latest updates - there’s something for you, no matter what you create.