Iron Horse Literary Review  publishes short fiction, poetry, and nonfiction.

General Guidelines:

 • All manuscripts must be submitted online, via Submittable. We do not accept submissions via regular mail or email.

 • Our submission gates open and close on a rolling basis between mid-August and mid-April each year. Please observe our submission periods; we reject manuscripts that do not fit the theme or genre of that submission period, without comment. See the table on our website for dates and topics. If the gate is not open, do not attempt to submit by purchasing a back issue or any other item. Wait till the gate is open.

 • We do not publish previously published materials.

• Regular submissions: Prose writers should send one manuscript (5,500 words or less); poets should send 3-5 poems. Manuscripts that do not meet these parameters will be rejected, without comment.

• Longer manuscripts must be entered in our annual Trifecta Competition (Prose: one essay or story, 25-40 pages; poetry: a single poem, 10-20 pages long). We reject, without comment, any long manuscripts that come in during other submission periods.

• We review only three manuscripts by any one author during any one academic year; subsequent manuscripts by the same author will be automatically rejected.

• Iron Horse accepts simultaneous submissions but please inform us immediately if a submission is taken elsewhere. Just send us a note through Submittable or via email: We'll be happy for you and will much appreciate the head's up.

• Upon publication, we provide an honorarium of $50 per poem or flash piece and $100 per story or essay. Trifecta winners (one each in poetry, nonfiction, and fiction) receive $250. The Single-Author Chapbook winner receives $1,000. Prizes for filmfest winners include $300 (Editor's Prize) and $200 (Audience Award).

• Please include a COVER LETTER with your name, email address, and the title(s) of work submitted, but paste your COVER LETTER into the appropriate field in Submittable. Do NOT include your cover letter inside the manuscript itself--not as the first or any page inside the submission. We will immediately REJECT manuscripts including cover letters.

We recommend that you familiarize yourself with IHLR before you submit your work. Find more about the current issue as well as subscription information on our website.

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For further information on any topic, send us an email.

Iron Horse Literary Review charges a $3 submission fee for each regular manuscript submitted to our office (our various competitions have entry fees). Like every literary journal in the country, we're compelled to demonstrate that we are both a fruitful project, with many benefits, as well as self-sufficient rather than a drain on limited funds. Together, with your help, we can keep the literary arts alive, and we hope you will be happy to spend $3 for your submission rather than giving that money to an office supply store and the post office. We also offer free submission days during every submission period. Follow us on social media to see those announcements and receive the hidden links.

Thank you for your continued support of Iron Horse! Without writers, we wouldn't even exist--


For our print issues, we read flash and stories up to 5,000 words. Longer stories should be submitted for our annual Long Story competition every fall, but not here. We accept simultaneous submissions, but please let us know if the story is taken elsewhere the moment that happens.

For this issue in particular, we are accepting stories on all topics; there is no set theme.


Iron Horse does not publish nonfiction which analyzes literature or focuses solely upon scholarly interests. We're looking for memoir, personal essays, cultural criticism with a personal angle, or immersion nonfiction. 

For our print issues, we read flash and mid-length essays up to 6,000 words. Longer nonfiction manuscripts should be submitted to our annual Long Story competition in the fall, but not here. 

We accept simultaneous submissions, but please let us know if the manuscript is taken elsewhere the moment that happens. 

For this issue in particular, we are looking for essays on any topic; there is no set them.


We do not have length requirements for poetry, though we will not print any poem that severely limits the number of other poems we can include in each issue. Submitters should place all poems they want us to consider in ONE file--up to five poems. Do not send multiple files.

For this particular issue, we are looking for poems on any topic; there is no set theme.


For the 2022 Chapbook Competition, Iron Horse is seeking one of the following: 

  • a short collection of three to five stories, 
  • a short collection of three to five essays, 
  • a short collection of flash fiction,
  • a short collection of flash essays,
  • a novella, 
  • a long story told specifically in linked flash, or
  • a long lyric essay (by lyric, we mean segmented, braided, or in a hermit crab shell).

We are NOT accepting hybrids or prose poetry. 

Formatting Instructions

  • The submitted manuscript must be 40 - 56 pages, double-spaced (approx. 10,000 to 20,000 words). Each story/essay/flash/chapter/segment must start on a new page. Number the pages. 
  • Manuscripts must be typed, with one-inch margins and using a 12-point standard font such a Times, Times New Roman, or Garamond. 
  • The author’s name and contact information must  appear on the Submittable form, but it must NOT appear anywhere in or on the  manuscript. There should be no footers or headers containing the  author's identity. And no bio page. Manuscripts with biographical information will be disqualified.
  • Do not include acknowledgments of previous publications. Manuscripts including an  acknowledgments page will be disqualified.
  • While individual portions of the chapbook may  have been published elsewhere, the chapbook as a whole must be  previously unpublished.
  • We  only accept electronic manuscripts, submitted as ONE pdf file, with the entire chapbook in that single file. Do NOT submit essays or stories in individual files.
  • Entries failing to meet formatting instructions will be automatically disqualified.

Entry Fee

The $18 entry fee includes a year's subscription to IHLR's print issues.

Submissions will be accepted between January 15 and  March 15.

We will offer a FREE SUBMISSION DAY on March 1. Watch for the link on our social media accounts or our website. It is hidden on our Submittable page--you MUST follow us on social media or visit our website to get it. If you are using this link to submit a free manuscript, you are using the wrong link, and you will be charged the regular submission fee. 

The Winner

The winning manuscript will be published in the Fall of 2024  as a separate issue (Volume 26.3). Full-color cover art will reflect the collection’s content and emphasize its title, not the name of Iron Horse. The published chapbook will look like the single-author book that it  is. The winner also receives a $1,000 honorarium and 15 copies. Judge: Leslie Jill Patterson. 

A subscription to Iron Horse gives you the full IHLR experience--and it saves you money!

A one-year subscription costs only $20, a $10 discount off our regular cover price, and it includes three print issues and three electronic issues. International subscribers will receive electronic copies only of all issues.

A two-year subscription costs only $35, a $25 discount off our regular cover price, and it includes six print issues and six electronic issues. International subscribers will receive electronic copies only of all issues.

Complete the form in order to ensure that you receive your subscription in a timely and accurate fashion.

Thank you for supporting IHLR, our contributors, and the literary arts. Without subscribers, we wouldn't exist!

Thank you for supporting IHLR, our contributors, and the literary arts by purchasing an issue of Iron Horse. We appreciate it!

Readers in the United States will receive hard copies of the issue(s) they purchase. International readers will receive electronic copies only.

Make sure you complete the order form as well as provide your billing information.

If you want to buy a chapbook, please exit this form, return to our Submittable page, and find the correct link for chapbook purchases.

If you are looking for our current/past electronic issues, those are available for free download at

Use this link to purchase any of our winning chapbooks:

  • Maxwell Suzuki's Bust of an Athlete--our most recent chapbook, a collection of poetry
  • Shuly Xóchitl Cawood's What The Fortune Tell Would Have Said--our most recent chapbook, a collection of flash essays
  • Roseanna Alice Boswell's Imitating Light--a collection of poems.
  • Brigitte Lewis's Origin Stories--a collection of stories that reconsider the domestic lives of Biblical couples: Adam and Eve, Lot and Edith, David and Bathsheba, Samson and Delilah, and Adam and Lilith (Adam's second wife).
  • Freda Epum's Entryways into Memories That Might Assemble Me--a collection of flash essays on popular culture, depression, identity, and racism in America.
  • Jed Myers's Dark Channels, a collection of poetry.
  • Christopher Lowe's A Guest of the Program, a collection of linked stories about college football and recruiting programs and coaches.
  • Robin Carstensen's In the Temple of Shining Mercy, a collection of poetry.
  • Kirk Wisland's Melancholy of Falling Men, a collection of essays on masculinity in America.
  • Joe Wilkins's Leviathan, a collection of poetry.
  • Michael Hemmingson's Still Life with Iguana. Published posthumously, this is a novella about white hat operatives, assassins, and espionage.
  • Brandon Davis Jennings's Waiting for the Enemy, a collection of linked stories about American servicemen in the Middle East.
  • Hastings Hensel's Control Burn, a collection of poetry.
  • Eric Neuenfeldt's Fall Ends Tomorrow, a collection of short stories.
  • Meagan Ciesla's Me, Them, Us, a novella.

Each chapbook costs $10. Be sure to tell us which one(s) you are ordering. 

Due to budget cuts after Covid-19, we can no longer support international postage costs. Readers outside the United States will receive electronic copies only.

Besides submitting work and subscribing to Iron Horse Literary Review, there are three other ways to support our work!

Join us at any one of the following levels:

Friends ($50)

Patrons ($100)

Benefactors ($300)

Thank you so much for your generous encouragement! Without our sponsors, Iron Horse would not be the journal it is today! 

Congratulations! We're thrilled that you sent Iron Horse a manuscript we love, and we're excited to publish it. If you would like to buy extra copies of the issue in which your work will appear or has appeared, this is the place to do that using your contributor discount!

Our regular issues cost $5, but contributors pay only $3.50 for the issue in which their work appears. You may purchase one or more copies here. 

If you are a chapbook winner and wish to buy additional copies of your chapbook, extra chapbook copies cost the winner $5 each.

You may also purchase a year's subscription here for only $10 (regularly $18).

Thank you again for helping make Iron Horse a literary journal that I'm so very proud of!



Leslie Jill Patterson, Editor

Iron Horse Literary Review