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.

We seek short stories that are literary fiction, lyrical creative non-fiction, poetry, and photography. 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 non-fictional 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 non-fiction, 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.

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 February, April, June, August, October, and December. Submissions open at the beginning of each alternate month, closing at the end or when the submission cap is reached. You will hear back before the following issue is published (within 60 days).

Guidelines

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.

Disclaimer

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 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 archives.

PLEASE NOTE: This is specifically for flash fiction. It is not a place to submit longer fiction or creative non-fiction, even if the cnf submission cap has been reached. If you do not see a cnf category, we have reached our submission cap for this issue and request that you check back in the future for Issue 04 submissions.

We seek literary flash fiction. We consider anything 1000 words or less (give or take) to be flash. Please do not submit longer works of fiction, essays, poetry, or book reviews to this category. Please do not submit genre fiction. Please do not submit novel excerpts. 

If you have a piece that is genre-bending, though, we welcome it. We also welcome prose poetry and experiments in form and topic.

Please read through previous issues and our philosophy on our website to get a sense for the stories we hope to publish. 

Please don't send pandemic stories. We tend not to like stories written in second person. Please don't send us surface-level stories, or pieces that scratch the surface of a difficult topic. We want the stories that dig deep into the heart of the issue, that burrow into the darkness or the pain or the questions without glossing over the details. 

Please only submit to one category per issue. We have submission caps and would appreciate the ability to read work from many authors across all categories.

When submitting, please do:

  • Send Word docs or similar. PDFs are okay.
  • Include a cover letter with a short third-person bio. We publish stories and artwork from emerging and established writers and artists alike; please do not fret if you have yet to be published.
  • Include the title of your work and page numbers in your manuscript.
  • Format your manuscripts in double-spaced, 12-pt Times New Roman font. Please do not submit Garamond; it's hard for our editor to read.
  • 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 submission. Please wait until you have heard back before sending a second submission.
  • 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 generally respond quickly. Each submission period provides stories for the next issue, which comes out the following month. Sometimes, the turnaround is tight. You should expect a response before the end of the following month. We must hear from you (to confirm the piece is still available and agree to standard terms) to be able to publish.

PLEASE NOTE: This is for photography ONLY. Any prose submitted to this category will be immediately rejected. If you do not see either prose category, we have reached our submission caps. Please return at another time for future issue submissions.


We seek photography to be paired with fiction and creative non-fiction. To evaluate whether or not your art fits with us, please look through our website and previous issues. Please look at our existing issues to get a sense of what we publish.


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 that we may accept a number of photographs up to the number of stories selected, but we may fewer than that if enough submissions don't form a cohesive ambience/mood for the issue. 


In terms of image orientation: We tend to favor square or landscape-oriented pieces. We generally do not accept vertical pieces, due to the layout of the website and issues.

We're especially interested in:

  • Sparseness in content, in color, or both
  • Tension
  • Desolate landscapes
  • Pieces that inspire questions
  • Bleakness
  • Pieces that inspire quiet hope
  • Ambient pieces


We're not interested in:

  • Busy, vibrant, colorful scenes
  • Sunsets/sunrises
  • Typical portraits, headshots, or otherwise normal photographs of people
  • Typical cityscapes



When submitting, please do:

  • Send an attachment (any resolution is ok as long as you have a high-res image in the event your submission is accepted) or a private link.
  • Include a cover letter with a short third-person bio. We publish stories and artwork from emerging and established writers and artists alike; please do not fret if you have yet to be published.
  • Include the title of your work.
  • Only submit unpublished works that are solely created by you and that you have the authority to publish.
  • Submit simultaneously. Please withdraw your piece immediately if it is accepted elsewhere.



When submitting, please don’t:

  • Submit anything other than what is defined in the general submissions guidelines.
  • Submit more than one submission. Please wait until you have heard back before sending a second submission.
  • Submit anything racist, bigoted, graphically violent, or excessively profane or hateful. 
  • Submit anything that has been published before, including on your website, blog, or social media.

We generally respond quickly. Each submission period provides stories for the next issue, which comes out the following month. Sometimes, the turnaround is tight. You should expect a response before the end of the following month. We must hear from you (to confirm the piece is still available and agree to standard terms) to be able to publish.

Reservoir Road Literary Review