Submitting to “The Best American Series” made easy by Adrienne Ross Scanlan.

After reading these two posts about getting into Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Best American Series, “About Childhood” subscriber Adrienne Ross Scanlan went into full research mode, resulting in this guest post.

Thank you, Adrienne!



Each volume in the series has a slightly different submission format. Click on the cover of the volume that interests you. If you don’t see your volume, click any cover to rotate the volumes. Finding yours, double-click to go inside. Some volumes offer a link marked “submissions.” Others simply list “contact,” or “series editor.”


By the end of the calendar year (so for 2013, you need to send pieces by December, 2012). The sooner sent, the better. Some series’ editors won’t read anything sent after December 31st of the given year. Others may read into the first week of January before shutting the door. Firmly.


Did you know that you could?

If an anthology’s guidelines allow it, you can nominate yourself. Some series editors allow only magazine editors to nominate. (Don’t be shy about asking one of your editors to nominate your work.) Still others, such as Tim Folger at Best American Science and Nature Writing, allow nominations from readers, writers or editors.

Adrienne Ross (writing as Adrienne Ross Scanlan) is the Nonfiction Editor of the new, on-line magazine, Blue Lyra Review. You can find her on Facebook and Shewrites as Adrienne Ross Scanlan.

How to get nominated for “The Best American” Series 2012

Amy Bloom’s career launched by “Best American”

Amy Bloom’s career jumpstarted with consecutive publications in The Best American Short Stories. Six years ago, at the Centrum/Port Townsend writers conference, she told a group of us how it happened:

Bloom said she so hated the idea of rejection that she sent her manuscript to the smallest literary  magazine she could find: a women’s collective in Alaska. It became her first-ever fiction publication. They nominated her piece for Best American. 

First publication to Best American rarely happens. So rarely does it happen that Ms. Bloom said she didn’t like to tell the story as it disheartened many not-yet-published writers – especially when followed up by the fact that her second-ever piece published also got picked for Best American.

While few of us can craft a sentence in the way of Ms. Bloom, we can all get ourselves nominated for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Best American Series. You can nominate yourself.

Perhaps more advisable, you can get readers and friends to nominate you. The most effective would be to have an editor nominate you. So … ask.

Eggers: Best American Non-Required Reading

The end-matter of most volumes list the submission requirements (PLUG to buy last year’s edition). As e-mail submissions are not allowed, provide your nominators with hard copies of your publication, and pre-addressed and stamped envelopes.

Here are the editors, by book, for the 2012 Best American series:

  • The Best American Short Stories: Tom Perrotta (novelist)
  • The Best American Essays: David Brooks (New York Times op-ed columnist)
  • The Best American Nonrequired Reading: Dave Eggers (editor of McSweeney’s); introduction by: Ray Bradbury
  • The Best American Travel Writing: William T. Vollmann (author of 17 books)
  • The Best American Science and Nature Writing: Dan Ariely (author of The Upside of Irrationality)
  • The Best American Mystery Stories: Robert Crais (best-selling mystery novelist)
  • The Best American Sports Writing: Michael Wilbon (co-host of ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption)