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The Heartland Review, a biannual literary journal

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Founded in 2000, The Heartland Review  (ISSN: 2473-9545) is published in the spring and fall as an imprint of The Heartland Review Press.  Our biannual journal publishes fiction, creative nonfiction/fiction, and poetry of any all subcategories, styles, and voices . Our writers have ranged in age from 15 to 80+. We consider established writers as well as emerging writers. In the past we have reserved space for student writers and emerging artists.  We nominate for the Pushcart Prize. Our submissions remain FREE.   We hope you will consider submitting.


When & What to submit

Fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry by May 1 to be considered and read for the Fall '23 issue.   

  • Poems: Submit 3 poems of any length or style to include traditional poetic forms. We will read the first 100 submissions of poetry each month.  

  • Fiction:  1  manuscript that does not exceed 5000 words. This manuscript should be able to stand on its own. It can be flash. The topic is up to you.  It can even be a chapter of your book. We will read the first 50 submissions of fiction per month.

  • Creative Nonfiction: 1 or 2 manuscripts that do not exceed 5000 words. This manuscript should be able to stand on its own. It can be flash, on any topic or be any  subcategory. It also can be a chapter of a book. We will read the first 50 submissions of creative nonfiction per month. 

  • Authors may submit only one entry every reading period.  This means please don't submit a fiction story and a then poetry in the same reading periods. This also means don't submit 2 files of poetry in the same reading period. Multiple genre and multiple entries will be declined.



 We post 2 Open Calls per year, which are free. 

The Open Call which ends in May is for the Fall Edition; this includes fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. 

The Open Call which ends in November is for a spring publication, but it only includes fiction and creative nonfiction. We publish our Joy Bale Boone Poetry Prize winners in the spring issue, which is a contest with cash prize, so we don't accept poetry from May through November

 Where to submit:

Below is a link that says Submit; click it.    You will be prompted to create an account using Submittable.  Only electronic submissions through Submittable are accepted.  Before you submit please read the formatting guidelines below.     


We can not make changes once we have started reading or have accepted your work.  If you would like to make changes prior to our reading period or acceptance, please withdraw your first submission and submit a new one. 


THR retains first North American serial rights and may use the submitted material to promote the journal and website in perpetuity. Upon publication, rights revert back to the writer. While we accept simultaneous submissions, please withdraw your work if it is published elsewhere.   


Free submissions. 

​Prize /Payment:

Because we do not charge for submission, there is not a monetary payment for this contest. THR  pays 1 contributor copy mailed to the authors of published works with the exception of writers who live outside the U.S. whose mail requires additional processing forms; writers from abroad will need to purchase all copies through Amazon.  



Our journal comes out in late Spring and late Fall. If you are published with us, we will mail you one. If you wish to buy additional copies, we do publish on Amazon and you can order from Amazon.  Our shop page has our Amazon links. 



1. Submissions must be in one Word compatible file (.docx, .doc, and .rtf). PDFs will not be read.

2. For fiction and nonfiction, the Word file must be double spaced uniformly. Do not put in extra spaces or have double with single spacing. Do not insert your own "enters" at the end of each line; ensure Word wraps the text automatically. Use left align, not justification. This helps the import and export of files.

3. The file should contain a cover page that includes a 30-40 word biography and contact information along with your original creative work. Only include personal information on the cover page/letter; submissions with personal information on the pieces or on multiple pages will be automatically disqualified. This means do not put your name in a header or footer in your document. Any personal information on pages of manuscripts will automatically disqualify the entire submission.

3. The file name should include the date (year and month) and the author’s name. For example, 2018_6_John Smith.    This helps us keep the files organized.


We look forward to reading your work!

Free Open Call: Poetry, Creative Nonfiction & Fiction 

In February, we had such a big response to our open calls in poetry and fiction that we exceeded our limits on Submittable for the month!   

As a result, starting March 1, we will read the first 100 submissions of poetry per month. We will read the first 50 submissions of fiction each month. We will read the first 50 submissions of creative nonfiction each month. At the start of each month, the count will start over until we reach the max for that month. This will help us be more efficient and responsive.    
Please don't wait until the end of the month.

Q & A: How does our process work? How many emails will I receive?  How will I know if my work is selected?  


Step 1 - Submission

After you click the "click here to submit link" and create a Submittable account, you can upload your files. You will receive an email from us upon submission. Your file in Submittable stays labeled as "new" until we pull it for reading.

Step 2: Reading

We pull once a month and send the monthly files to our editors and readers. We will read the first 100 submissions of poetry each month, the first 50 submissions of fiction each month, and the first 50 submissions of creative nonfiction per month.  Once we pull , you will receive an email that says we are reading and your Submittable file will be labeled as "in process".  If your file is labeled "in progress" for a long  time, it means we are carrying it from month to month in the "keeper" pile. 


Step 3: Notification of Accept / Decline 

After we've read and made decisions, your Submittable file will be labeled as "accepted or decline"; at that time you will receive an email from us.   We'll notify in early August and by Valentine's Day. 

Spring and Fall 

For those accepted, we also send an email when we mail your contributor copies. 


Follow up and Clean Up

After copies have been mailed (usually twice a year), we clean up our database and labeled our contests/projects in Submittable as "complete". Sometimes we send an email with this and sometimes we don't. If it's close to our mailing times, then we might check to make sure that you received your contributor copy or let you know that we didn't receive return snail mail.


If you wish to withdraw your submission because your work has been accepted elsewhere, you can do so in Submittable. 

If you have questions at any time you can email us at the address on the bottom of the website or send us a message through Submittable.   

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