what we publish
Iron Horse Literary Review publishes four print issues a year and four e-editions, all filled with the best fiction, nonfiction, and poetry we can find. Each volume of IHLR contains a themed issue (we've celebrated Halloween, Labor Day, Valentine's Day, etc., as well as Rock 'n' Roll, Back to School, The Bedroom, #LikeAGirl, and much more). Always, we honor NaPoMo with its own issue in April. Of course, we also include one open issue each year.
Finally, we devote our fourth 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.
Three of our electronic issues highlight the winners of our Trifecta. This contest allows us to make "room" for those longer manuscripts and poem sequences that journals typically can't publish because of limited page space. We release the three winners as three beautiful, full-color e-singles, 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 receive $250 each.
Additionally, our annual PhotoFinish, released at midnight on New Year's Eve, features the ten best flash prose or short poem responses we receive to a photo prompt we supply in May.
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, so all submitters benefit from their efforts.
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.
And we pay our contributors: $100 for stories and essays; $50 for poems, and $50 for flash pieces.
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 still offer a low subscription rate to libraries and individuals: only $18. Because of the low cost, we are not equipped to support international subscriptions at this time.
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 FOUR times a year as a reminder.