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Thank you to Zainab A. Omaki, one of our Issue 70 Readers in Residence

December 9, 2020

As we get our seventieth issue all kitted out in its Sunday best and ready to meet you on December 21, we are also preparing to say goodbye to our second team of Readers In Residence, who worked so hard to help find these stories. Over the next four days, we will be posting some of their thoughts on their time at SmokeLong as well as their advice for submitters.

Today’s post is from Zainab A. Omaki.


by Zainab A. Omaki

I found the entire experience quite fascinating. I’ve obviously submitted to a lot of magazines in the past, but being on the other side gave me a greater appreciation for how much time editors invest, and how they’re actually on the hunt for great stories. They want to read something that wows them, but most of the time people send stories in that just aren’t ready or right for the magazine they’re sending it to.

Everyone says it, but reading a few stories published by the magazine you’re submitting to (and actually liking the magazine) does significantly improve your chances of being published by them.

I think I would have liked to read more flash non-fiction during the period. I read two or three in a three-month period–one of which really stood out to me– but it would have been nice to see more. As a genre, I don’t think flash non-fiction gets as much love as it should. Non-fiction can be absolutely stunning and speak to wider human existence. People think you need a lot of words for that (most magazines give higher word counts to non-fiction in comparison to fiction) but I disagree.

As a writer, I’d definitely recommend reading for a magazine, if you can. You’ll learn a lot. What to do, what not to do, what works and what doesn’t in a thousand years.


Zainab A. Omaki is a Nigerian prose and screen writer. She has a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia where she was the recipient of the Miles Morland African Writer’s scholarship. Her work has appeared from The Rumpus, Afreada, TSS, Ake Review and other spaces. She was selected by Chimamanda Adiche for the Purple Hibiscus Trust writing workshop in 2018. She was longlisted for the Show Me Yours Prize and the BBC Comedy Writersroom. She is working on a novel.


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