SPOTLIGHT ON LITERARY MAGAZINES THAT PUBLISH SHORT FICTION: AMBIT

THE GOOD

Established Heritage: Ambit was launched by paediatrician and writer Martin Bax in 1959 after he was inspired by Rhythm Magazine. It’s now run by Briony Bax, with Olivia Bax as Art Editor. Having established the family dynasty behind Ambit, though, it’s worth noting that the magazine doesn’t rely on nepotism and has had a host of brilliantly talented artists in various editorships. Carol Ann Duffy was once poetry editor, and J.G. Ballard is a former fiction editor, for example. Ambit became famous for rejecting criticism, long reviews, essays and articles in favour of creative work. The mix of literary and visual artists material has always been at the heart of the publication. David Hockney, Peter Blake and Ralph Steadman have all published artwork in Ambit.

Promotes New Talent: Ambit exclusively seeks unsolicited, unpublished content. Editors have published writers with established reputations, but pride themselves on putting new writers on par with famous contributors.

Definitive about Expectations: The Ambit website and Submittable portal are both very explicit about what they expect from contributors. Equally, they’re clear about payment, processes and details.

Unique Opportunities: Not only is the visual appeal of Ambit is attractive for readers, I think, for writers, there is also an unmissable opportunity. Stories are often illustrated. That collaboration process and result is a beautiful and unusual way to get in-depth feedback from your work.

THE BAD

Small Circulation: This could be said of any number of successful lit-mags, and the caveat must be given that Ambit’s readership is founded on the loyalty of subscriptions, which means it’s readers are invested. However, the nature of publishing in print is that however successful your output, it’s rare that you’ll find impressive circulation figures to match the reputation. You’d get more readers publishing a short story in Women’s Weekly if that’s what you’re going for.

Small Submissions Windows: There is a short submissions window for fiction, simply because they have a small editorial team and piles of high-quality submissions.

Very Competitive: Ambit only print 3% of submissions. 3%!

THE OBVIOUS

Ambit has long been associated with an anti-establishment stance, partly because of the editorship during the Sixties. Although it steers away from polemical writing, its mere form and content keep this reputation aglow. Editors insist that there is no archetypal Ambit writer, and instead seek out exciting work, regardless of literary reputations.

To read more about the foundations of Ambit, and the personal journey of its founder, Martin Bax, I recommend purchasing Ambit 225 or 237.

Take a look at their submissions policy on Submittable if you’d like to give Ambit a go.

We’ll be taking a look at A Day in Six Bets by Jonathan Chamberlain in our next newsletter, sign up if you’d like to be part of the discussion.

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