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 • We do not publish previously published materials.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--


Texas Tech University Press and Iron Horse Literary Review are pleased to accept submissions for the Iron Horse/TTU Press First Book of Prose Prize, awarded annually to a first book of collected prose. The author of the winning entry will receive $1000, and their collection will be published in 2025 by Texas Tech University Press.

We are looking for emerging writers who have yet to publish a first book in any genre. We are seeking collections of prose, either short fiction or nonfiction, especially stories and essays from and about places and people that are often overlooked and underrepresented in contemporary letters, but we have no preferences as to subjects or themes. Entries may come from writers who have published individual essays or stories--including works collected in the submitted manuscript--but it is not required. We are simply interested in strong voices, diverse perspectives, and fresh takes on what it means to be human.

The winner will be chosen by Katie Cortese, director of Texas Tech University Press, an associate professor in the Creative Writing Program at Texas Tech University, and author of Make Way for Her and Other Stories.


  1. Entries must be either a collection of short fiction or essays. We are not accepting novels or memoirs, although we welcome story cycles, novellas with other stories, and linked essays. 
  2. We prefer book manuscripts between 150-250 pages, with each story or essay starting on a new page.
  3. Manuscripts must be typed, with one-inch margins and using a standard typeface like Times New Roman or Garamond, in 12-point font.
  4. Pages must be numbered.
  5. Individual portions of the manuscript may have been published elsewhere, but the manuscript as a whole must be previously unpublished.
  6. The author’s name and contact information should appear on the Submittable form and in the cover letter, but it must NOT appear anywhere on the  manuscript. There should be no footers or headers containing the  author's identity. No bio page. 
  7. In your cover letter, and only in your cover letter, you are required to include acknowledgment of any portion of the manuscript that has been previously published. But do NOT include an acknowledgments page inside the manuscript.
  8. We only accept electronic manuscripts, submitted as ONE pdf, doc, or docx file, with the entire manuscript in that single file using continuous pagination. Do NOT submit multiple stories or essays in individual files.
  9. Entries failing to meet formatting instructions will be automatically disqualified.

ENTRY FEE: $15, which directly supports the series.
SUBMISSION DATES: June 15 to August 15
FREE SUBMISSION DATE: July 15. On this day, we will accept a limited number of submissions free of charge to ensure the inclusion of as many authors as possible. If you can afford to pay the fee, we ask that you reserve the free slots for others who may not be able to submit otherwise. If you miss the July 15th free submission day and would like to submit your work but cannot pay the fee, please feel welcome to contact Travis Snyder at Texas Tech University Press (, but not before July 15th.
TIMELINE: Prize finalists will be announced in November 2024, and the winner will be named in January/February 2025. Though only one book is guaranteed to receive the $1,000 honorarium and publication, all submissions will be considered for publication.

For more information on Texas Tech University Press, visit their website.
For more information on Iron Horse Literary Review, visit their website.

Ends on $5.00

For the IHLR annual PhotoFinish, we seek well-crafted and very brief ekphrastic work that pushes beyond an absolute literal read of a photo prompt. We're looking for work that recognizes what's hidden in the world we see, either responding to the physical details that the picture offers or the emotion it conveys--or both. We provide the photo on our website beginning May 15th every year.

Responses should be no longer than 500 words for prose or 15 lines for poetry, and our submission gate will remain open from July 1 to Aug 15. The winner receives $250. The finalists receive: $50. The winner and nine finalists are published in the e-edition, released at midnight on New Year's Eve--our last horse over the year's finish line.

Submission Fee: $5 fee. Or you may submit on our free day: July 15. The link to the free portal will be live on our website and social media accounts all day on the 15th! You must have that specific link to reach it. If you're are using this gate, you will be charged. This is NOT the Free Gate.

The 2024 Photo Prompt

This year's photo prompt appears on our website:

Good luck!

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