Please read the guidelines below to the very end. It is highly recommended to read at least one issue of OMQ before submitting your work.
We must decline submissions that do not follow the guidelines.
About & Scope
Open Minds Quarterly features a broad range of writing—including but not limited to prose, poetry, research, and reviews—and visual art. Our intention is to facilitate explorations of life in a mad world. More specifically, our goals are to:
- Create space for people with lived experience of mental health challenges to consider our similarities, as well as our differences;
- Facilitate discussions of concepts such as madness, support, recovery, and wellness, in all the forms that may take;
- Explore and grow the language used to describe people’s experiences of what is variously called mental illness, madness, neurodiversity, mental health challenges etc.;
- Acknowledge and address the impact of broader social factors on mental health;
- Offer our lived experiences to those who have not experienced mental health challenges in an effort to increase understanding and reduce stigma;
- And, testify to the significance, impact, and dignity of all our lives.
OMQ is published by NISA/Northern Initiative for Social Action, a member-driven, peer-support mental health organization built on the premise that people with mental health challenges are intelligent, creative, and valuable. Only writers who are personally affected by mental health challenges, whether as a survivor or as an ally or helping professional, are eligible for publication in OMQ.
What We Publish
Please note: The Summer and Winter issues are themed; Fall and Spring issues are open-theme. Our scope is purposefully broad, and OMQ accepts work under the following sections:
- NONFICTION—Including first-hand accounts, personal essays, and memoir. 3000 word limit.
- FICTION—Creative explorations of life through a mad lens. 3000 word limit.
- POETRY—From poets well-versed in mental health challenges. 4 piece/8 page limit.
- VISUAL ART—Visual, digital, and mixed media expressions. 4 piece/8 page limit.
- EXPERIMENTAL—Thinking and writing outside of the other boxes. 4 piece/8 page limit.
- RESEARCH—Studies on mental health that have passed a formal ethics review. 3000 word limit.
- REVIEWS—Reflections on books, movies, and other art forms. 3000 word limit.
- LETTERS—Opinion pieces and letters for our editor or readers. 3000 word limit.
A submission is defined as either one piece of prose (including nonfiction, fiction, research, reviews, or letters) of up to 3000 words or less four pieces of either poetry, experimental work, or visual art, totalling no more than eight pages. To ensure everyone has a fair chance to have their submission carefully and expertly reviewed, we will consider only one submission per person each issue.
The volume of submissions to OMQ is high, and as a result, we cannot accept nearly as many contributions as we would like. Our acceptance rate is currently between five and 10 per cent, depending on the section of the magazine. We accept simultaneous submissions. Please notify us immediately if your submission is accepted elsewhere.
Work should be typed and submitted online at https://openmindsquarterly.submittable.com/submit.
Diversity: We recognize the ongoing marginalization and oppression many of us face because of colonization, racism, misogyny, sexism, transphobia, homophobia, ableism, and capitalism, and the ways these and other injustices make us unwell. We welcome people belonging to marginalized communities to submit to OMQ, and we work to prioritize stories and voices that are currently underrepresented in the media. There is an optional space in the submission process to self-identify as belonging to marginalized communities. Any self-identifying information you share in that space will be kept strictly confidential.
Developmental editing: First-time and beginner writers are strongly encouraged to submit their work to OMQ. We often publish first-time writers. Very infrequently, we accept work from first-time writers that shows extraordinary potential to offer a new or unusual take but needs considerable revision before we can publish it. In these cases, our editors will offer the writer an opportunity to learn about writing and editing techniques, identify their writing’s strengths and weaknesses, and revise their work for publication.
Computer access: If you do not have access to a computer or internet at home, you might be able to use computers at your local library or mental health organization. If you have exhausted every alternative, you may submit your work by mail to Open Minds Quarterly, 36 Elgin St., Sudbury, ON P3C 5B4. Mailed submissions will receive a response only if they are accepted. Handwritten submissions are very strongly discouraged, but if you must hand-write your submission, it must be readable.
Payment: It is in the best interest of the magazine to compensate our writers for their hard work, and it is in the best interest of Canadian literature on the whole for writers to earn a decent, sustainable income from their work. It is simply fair for publishers to share profits with writers. OMQ is a project funded by NISA/Northern Initiative for Social Action, a non-profit consumer/survivor initiative in Northern Ontario. Currently, sales and subscription revenues do not cover the cost of publishing the magazine—we do not turn a profit. We are doing everything we can to secure funding for cash payments to everyone who contributes to OMQ. In the meantime, we offer an honorarium of $50 to artists whose work is featured on our front and back covers. Writers and artists published in OMQ receive two contributors’ copies of the issue in which they are published.
Publication rights: If your submission is accepted for publication in OMQ, we will ask you to grant us one-time, non-exclusive serial and/or electronic publication rights to your work. That means we’re asking for permission to publish your work once, in the print (serial) and/or future online (electronic) editions of OMQ, but you retain ownership of your work and can freely submit it for publication elsewhere. This is true whether OMQ is the first place you’ve published your submission, or you have previously published it in another magazine (non-exclusive). If your submission has previously been published in another magazine, book or website, check that they do not own exclusive rights to your work before you submit it to OMQ.
Review process: Submissions to OMQ are reviewed by one or two assistant editors, who advise the editor on whether to accept or decline a piece. Assistant editors are people who are personally affected by mental health challenges, as survivors and supporters, and who are knowledgeable about literature and culture. Our assistant editors conduct an anonymous review of the submissions so please ensure your name or other identifying information are not included within your actual submission file or in the file name anywhere. The editor makes the final decision about whether or not to publish a contribution. Submissions will receive a response within 60 days of the end of the submission period. Editorial decisions are final.
Scholarly review: If we agree that the topic and scope of your research article is suitable for OMQ, we can arrange for anonymous peer review by other scholars, upon request. OMQ staff will conduct an independent ethics review, via NISA’s research group, PARNorth, of any research accepted for publication.
Business inquiries can be directed to Audrey O’Brien at email@example.com or 705-222-6472 x 314.
Editorial inquiries can be directed to Ella Jane Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org or 705-222-6472 x 303.
Thank you for choosing to submit your work to Open Minds Quarterly: Explorations of life in a mad world!
This submission form gives us the information we need to review your submission and, if it is accepted, to publish it in the magazine. We happily accept simultaneous submissions during the initial submission period. Please let us know right away is your submission is accepted elsewhere.
Before submitting, please view our submission guidelines at openmindsquarterly.submittable.com/submit.
Submissions that do not meet the guidelines will be declined.
Summer 2019 - Storytelling
The Summer 2019 issue will focus on storytelling, and how this concept relates to people's lived experience of madness/mental health challenges and/or accessing mental health services. Submissions for this issue will open on March 1, 2019, and will remain open until May 31, 2019. Please include an explanation of how your work relates to this issue's theme in the "Description of Submission" section. We are interested in work that addresses questions including (but not limited to):
- What's your story?
- What does storytelling mean to you?
- What stories do you tell others, and yourself; about yourself, and the world?
- What stories have shaped or changed you?
- How do stories shape our perspective?
- What role does storytelling play in your culture?
- What stories dominate the current narrative, and why?
- How can storytelling change the world?
OMQ publishes submissions from anyone anyone with lived experience of madness/mental health challenges/accessing mental health services who have experiences to share and voices to be heard. We are seeking submissions that are insightful, intelligent, and creative, because we know that's what those of us with lived experience are.
Your writing needn't focus on madness/mental health if you are submitting poetry, fiction, or visual art; however, nonfiction, reviews, open letters, and research should relate specifically to experiences of madness or mental health challenges. We welcome submissions from friends and family members of mental health consumers, but these submissions should be related to your experience with mental health issues as the family member or friend.
OMQ encourages submissions that relate to experiences of being marginalized that include being gendered, racialized, colonized, queer, or otherwise Other, as well as from authors whose communities are typically under-represented. There is an optional space in the submission process to self-identify as belonging to marginalized communities; as we understand some people may not feel comfortable or safe self-identifying, it is by no means mandatory. Any information you share with us on this subject will be kept strictly confidential.