what we publish
Iron Horse Literary Review publishes three print issues a year and three e-editions, all filled with the best fiction, nonfiction, and poetry we can find. Each volume of IHLR contains a themed print issue (we've celebrated Labor Day, Valentine's Day, etc., as well as Rock 'n' Roll, Back to School, The Bedroom, #LikeAGirl, and much more). We also include one open print issue each year. Stories and essays in these issues receive $100 each, and poems and flash received $50.
Finally, we devote our third print issue to our annual chapbook competition, the winner a small collection of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, or a novella by one author. We nominate the issue for any small press awards the chapbook qualifies for, and we promote it heavily. The winner also receives $1,000.
One of our electronic issues celebrates a "long" manu-script. Originally, the IHLR Trifecta featured three winners, one in each genre, published electronically. Today, after Covid-19 budget cuts, The IHLR Long Story makes "room" for only one longer prose manuscript--an essay or story that print journals typically can't publish because of limited page space. We release the winning story / essay in a beautiful, full-color e-single, available for free download at ISSUU, just
in time for summer when everyone is traveling and looking for something to read on their handheld devices. The winners originally received $250 each, but today, the one winner receives $1,000.
Our annual NaPoMo Special Issue is now also released electronically: it contains one winning poem and ten finalists, and is published in full color. The winning poem receives $1,000, and the ten finalists receive $50 each.
Finally, our annual PhotoFinish, released at midnight on New Year's Eve, features one winner and ten finalists, flash prose or short poem responses we receive to a photo prompt we supply in May. The winner receives $250 and each of the finalists receive $50.
Most importantly, we publish established writers, new writers, and, in particular, women, LGBTQIA writers, and writers of color—artists who keep our pages both energized and relevant.
how we respond
As always, we respond specifically to every manuscript we receive, sending short but personalized letters explaining why we are not accepting a manuscript when we don’t. Because our editors are all storytellers and poets, too, we know how frustrating it can be to submit work to a journal, wait six to eight months for a response, and then receive only a generic, anonymous scrap of a response that says nothing more than, No thanks. We receive over 1,000 submissions a year, are open for only 7 months, and publish about 40 poems, 8-10 stories, and 1-4 essays a year. Writers seeking a spot in any literary journal face the same incredible odds, and if we can’t find room for a piece in Iron Horse, we’ll at least explain why.
Too, if we don’t respond to a manuscript in less than six months, we’ll give that submitter a FREE subscription!
how we promote
For the writers we do publish, we want them to know how much we appreciate their work (what an honor to publish it!), and we hope the only reason they feel “fortunate” to appear in our pages is because they know how hard we work to support their careers.
Therefore, two features we include in Iron Horse are our extended contributor notes and a regular column, “Around the Tracks,” which highlights our contributors' recent accomplishments. IHLR contributor notes offer biographical information about our writers, but they also allow contributors to discuss their work habits and the processes by which they created the pieces that appear in our journal (which, by the way, is an excellent educational tool for new and experienced writers reading Iron Horse). Additionally, we offer a free page of ad space to any contributor who publishes a book up to two years after appearing in our pages.
In fact, our ad space (all complimentary) is reserved solely for free advertising, publicizing those books released by our contributors and other journals that are willing to swap ad space with us. In this manner, we hope to offer a service to writers, publishers, and other journals. We want to help the literary arts and artists to thrive no matter where they are situated.
what we offer readers
Of course, we’re looking for more readers and hope our format finds them! We want everyone to read and read, and keep reading, because literature unites humanity. Writers address topics and events of ordinary human concern in unique and imaginative ways, and their stories and poems teach us something about ourselves. Especially today, this type of connection may be critical to the survival of democracy.
We offer a low subscription rate to libraries, individuals, even readers outside of the United States: only $18. For international subscribers, we send electronic copies only of every issue, not physical copies.
Our writers and our magazine work together to increase the number of people who read quality literature, and we show up in our subscribers’ mailboxes three times a year as a reminder.