We encourage collaboration between writers and performers because it makes for some great audio. These new short stories were written by up-and-coming authors and recorded by professional actors. Give them a listen. We know you'll like it.
Everything on the site has been previously published by a prominent literary journal or literary organization. This made our contest unusually competitive. It was out of 400 such submissions that Katherine Jamieson’s essay “Rob Me Again” won the $500 Editor’s Choice Award, and that Carly Sachs’ story “Tender” won the $500 Reader’s Choice Award. This is the type of work that we believe can thrive both in traditional journals and on fancy new gadgets.
Like that one? Check out all the other essays and stories we have by Katherine Jamieson:
Katherine Jamieson is a graduate of the Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program where she was an Iowa Arts Fellow. Her work has been published in The New York Times, Ms., Brevity, Meridian, The Journal, Terrain, The Common, Alimentum, and anthologized in The Best Travel Writing 2011, and The Best Women's Travel Writing 2011 and 2013. You can read more of her writing at: katherinejamieson.com.
“Tender” by Carly Sachs earned 100+ positive votes. We weren’t surprised. The piece delivers a tight, poetic punch and was first published by NPR’s Selected Shorts where it also won the Stella Kupfenberg Short Story Prize. Listen to the story here (read by Elise Randall), or here (read by the author), or read it for yourself here.
Carly Sachs is the author of the steam sequence and the editor of the why and later. She teaches in the English Department at Kent State University. She is also a yoga teacher and dreams of owning a bakery.
Our first annual PhoneFiction Contest was outrageously successful with over 400 submissions. These pieces were previously published in journals like The Sun, Glimmertrain, Michigan Quarterly Review, and Iron Horse. The $1000 Journal Prize will be awarded to one of these publications soon!
Here’s the deal: We are building a platform that mixes crowd-sourced funding (like Flattr), a powerful recommendation engine (like Pandora), and an online community (like GoodReads) all for the sake of the literary orphan: the short story. We give exciting new fiction that’s already been recognized by reputable magazines a whole new platform to show its stuff.
Neither do we. We hate ads, for one thing. That's why when you're reading on PhoneFiction all you see is the author’s manuscript. No credit cards, no weird old tips, and definitely no monkeys you're supposed to punch. Just the story in a readable text design.
My worries concern the increasing marginalization of writers and of their writings in society. Whenever writers are considered marginal to a society, something is deeply wrong, wrong in that society and wrong with the relations between writing and the society.
Our Mission is to promote short literature to a wider audience. PhoneFiction wants to do the business and development work that literary magazines are not able to do. We’re also naïve enough to believe that if more people outside the literary community had (the right kind of) access to short stories, they would gobble them up by the megabyte.
“The average reader would not enjoy a contemporary literary magazine”—that is not a surprising statement. Top literary magazines aren’t edited, marketed, or distributed with the average reader in mind. This is fine. Lit mags are specialized publications with rigorous artistic standards. Although an average reader might not find $25 of value in Hipster Rags Mag—not a real publication, praise Zeus—it doesn’t mean such a person would never enjoy Hipster Rags’s content. Consider the stories your favorite magazine has published over the past decade: there are a wide variety of stories even in a magazine with a consistent editing team. Now what if we had that same literary magazine’s entire collection of stories available and could pick a story or two that matches with a specific reader’s interests? And what if we delivered that story to him on something intimate and personal—the Smartphone—and not something that stinks of school—a paperbound book? And what if every journal publishing in English worked together to build this network?
Opening a book requires an act of willpower that texts and Tweets do not: a reader must go to a book, like a chore; texts and Tweets come to a reader, like a gift. We think we can alter how these stories are perceived by sending the right stories to the right readers when they’re ready for them.
Shakespeare wrote for money. So did Dickens and Henry James. Paying all writers big and small is a healthy practice that fell out of fashion as the T.V. took over in the sixties. We want to do what we can to pay writers for short literature so that they spend more time writing. Writing is work, and a healthy publishing culture recognizes it as such. Professional writers should not be made to feel like they are begging.
Say someone reads a story she doesn't like on our site. It's free. If she reads the next story and it moves her, she will be able to give a dollar to that story through our platform: .50 goes to the author, .25 to the journal that first published it, and .25 to PhoneFiction in order to cover costs and expand our projects.
It depends. We are here to help. Our recommendation is that interested journals contact us and become an official partner. At that point, journals might wish to have our team handle the technology and business if they don’t have the staff to do it themselves. We could, for instance, help manage story archives and promote web content.
Even if a journal chooses not to partner with us, the publication will be credited for stories their authors have submitted to the site. Such journals will also still be eligible for the Journal Prize.
Literary Journals by and large do most things well: they’re excellent at building community, discovering unknown writers, and curating fresh content. But they (understandably) don’t have much interest in the business side of operations. The consequences of bad business models have increasingly passed onto writers: high costs and small distribution means that writers do not get financially compensated for their work. To make things more difficult, when English Departments get strapped for cash, which always seems to happen, they cut funding to their affiliated journal. So a new writing competition is born, which charges $10-$25 for authors to submit. Unfortunately, it is green or desperate writers who end up funding more experienced writers through these competitions. (Yuck…) We like competitions that are free to submit and that have prize money come directly from donors, which is why our team put up the cash this time: the prizes are meant to be a show of good faith between the PhoneFiction team and the writing community at large. We don’t have all the answers, but we do think our project can help journals work together.
This project is moving fast, friends. Here’s what we have in the pipeline: