Stories that examine the truth in the bitterness, in the anti-heroes. Heavy stories full of grit and discomfort that shed sympathetic light on the questionable, the unfavorable. Stories that ask difficult questions, that provide difficult answers.
*Please note: As of 2022, we are now a quarterly publication releasing four issues each year.
We seek photography, poetry, and short stories that are literary fiction and lyrical creative nonfiction. We are generally disinterested in pandemic stories. We also do not generally take coming-of-age stories, pieces that center on YA age groups, or historical pieces.
Please reread our Philosophy page before submitting. Does your story dig into a difficult theme? Does it cover something heavy or hard to parse? Does it shed light on a typically disliked sort of character? We're not seeking general stories; we don't want your comedy, satire, romance, day-in-the-life stories. We don’t want your characters who face a difficult choice and always do the right thing.
For fiction, we do not have a word limit, but anything pushing 8,000 words may become unwieldy. We consider anything 1000 words or less (give or take) to be flash. Please do not submit book excerpts. Please do not submit genre fiction.
For poetry, we accept poems with both fictional and nonfictional inspirations. We do not have a strict word limit, though we will not typically accept poems above 500 words. Please do not submit song lyrics.
For creative nonfiction, we accept lyrical flash pieces at 1000 words or less, give or take. Please do not submit essays or book reviews.
For photography, please do not submit collages, traditional portraits, headshots, or other typical photographs of people; bright, colorful shots; typical sunsets or sunrises; or birds over water. We seek photographs that inspire tension and questions; desolate landscapes; bleakness and sparseness; ambient moods. Please note we do not accept vertical (portrait-oriented) photographs. We prefer horizontal (landscape-oriented) photographs but may consider squares.
We regret that we must explicitly state this, but previous submissions indicate that we must. Do not, under any circumstances, submit graphic depictions of rape or sexual violence.
Issues come out on the last Tuesday of March, June, September, and December. (Quarterly release schedule.) Submissions open at the beginning of January, April, July, and October and close at the end or when the submission cap is reached. (Quarterly submission schedule.) You will hear back before the following issue is published (within 60 days). If you have not heard back within 60 days, please query.
When submitting, please do:
- Submit your work through Submittable. (Please submit to the correct category. If you do not see the correct category, that means we’ve reached our submission cap, so that category is closed. Any submissions to the incorrect category will be rejected unread.)
- Include your title.
- Include your prose or poetry submission as a Word doc or PDF.
- For photography, send a private link or image attachment. Please do not submit work that is publicly available.
- Include a cover letter with a short third-person bio. We publish work from emerging and established writers and artists alike; please do not fret if you have yet to be published.
- Include the title of your story and, for prose, page numbers in your manuscript.
- For prose, format your manuscripts in double-spaced, 12-pt Times New Roman font.
- Only submit unpublished works that are solely written by you and that you have the authority to publish.
- Submit simultaneously. Please withdraw your story immediately if it is accepted elsewhere.
When submitting, please don’t:
- Submit anything other than what is defined in the general submissions guidelines.
- Submit translations.
- Submit more than one story. Please wait until you have heard back before submitting a second story.
- Submit anything racist, bigoted, or excessively profane or hateful. We will make exceptions for stories that examine a character who falls into these categories, as long as the work clearly demonstrates the problematic nature of that character.
We will try to respond within 90 days, hopefully much sooner. If you have not heard from us at that time, you may inquire, though no response likely means we have chosen to include other pieces. Please do not inquire sooner, except to withdraw a submission.
We are a digital publication only and do not print issues at this time.
We welcome submissions from persons of any age, race, sexual orientation, gender identification, nationality, and religion. Currently, we only publish works written in English. We specifically encourage submissions by or about disabled, neurodiverse, or ill people.
We reserve the right to reject any piece of work. We only publish so many stories, which, unfortunately, means that we must pass on many great stories. This is not a reflection on who you are as a person and is merely a reflection of the work itself and/or our limited space.
By submitting to Reservoir Road Literary Review, you affirm that your work is solely your own and you have the authority to publish it. You affirm that it is not in any way libelous or slanderous. You absolve Reservoir Road Literary Review and its staff from any and all issues, legal or otherwise, that could arise from the publication of your work. You acknowledge and accept that Reservoir Road Literary Review currently pays a nominal rate of $5 per accepted submission. You also consent to a light edit of your work.
Upon acceptance, Reservoir Road Literary Review requests exclusive digital publication of your work for 90 days from the date of first publication. At that point, you may do with it what you wish, though we ask that you please cite the original publication. We also request indefinite nonexclusive rights so that we may keep your story in our digital archives.
We seek readers for Reservoir Road Literary Review for all categories. Assignments will vary based on capacity—somewhere between 5 and 15 stories per week, depending on your personal preference.
We especially encourage women, non-binary people, trans people, BIPOC, disabled people, and queer people to apply, if you are able. We understand that the volunteer nature of the position may be preventative and that every person's time is valuable.
Our submissions are only open every odd month, so you will have at least a couple weeks off at the end of every even month. Depending on how many submissions we receive in a given period and how quickly they are reviewed, you may have an entire month off from reading between periods.
As a reader, you will assess several things to determine if a story should move to the next round of review, including but not limited to whether or not the story is generally grammatically correct and ready for publication. (Of course, there are exceptions.) Most importantly, you will assess whether or not the story aligns to our vision and style: we don't publish just any well-written literary short story. Please read our Philosophy page to make sure you understand the vision well enough that you could assess this aspect.
Please complete the application here. If selected for the next round, you will be asked to read three stories and provide your votes with justification.
This application will be live until we fill the need. Number of readers will depend on each individual reader's weekly capacity.