Submissions and pitches
Before sharing your work with us, consider familiarizing yourself with what we’ve published recently.
Please only submit work that has not been published in print or appeared in online publications previously in English. We happily accept simultaneous submissions and just ask that you promptly notify us via the messaging system in Submittable if some of your work is accepted elsewhere, or withdraw your submission if the whole of it has been accepted elsewhere. We support you on your journey!
Longform and Flash Nonfiction
We welcome submissions of literary criticism, book reviews of current or forthcoming titles, personal essays, and creative nonfiction. For essays and criticism, please try to stay within 5,000 words, if possible. Book reviews can usually succeed within 1,000 words or less. As for creative nonfiction, allow your story to dictate the length, while keeping in mind that the shorter the work, the more space we’ll have for it.
As of July 2023, we enthusiastically welcome flash nonfiction (roughly 1,000 words or less) for online publication.
Novellas are perfect for that in-between space — fiction too long for a short story, too brief for a novel. We’re looking for works that journey through that Other space only a novella can fill. Think about 20,000 to 50,000 words. Maybe your novella covers a topic that make the mainstream uncomfortable. Or maybe it’s formally experimental. Or maybe it has a surprising take on the mundane aspects of life. The field is open. Send us your best.
The final product here is a physical book, just like Northwest Review journals: gritty, grainy, thick paper stock, an art object with original illustrations. Let’s make art together.
Visual Artwork & Photography (including illustration, collage, and comics)
We want to publish art that the mainstream, hierarchical, academized system deems “outsider.” We are interested in illustration, collage, comics, and graphic narratives, or any format that expresses an authentic gesture of human emotion and experience as you see it. Do you have an idea for a 2D visual installation? Do you have a reverse ekphrastic piece? Do you have surreal doodles you furiously sketched upon waking from a terrifying dream sequence? Do you have Xerox art? Riso art? We’re interested. When it comes to photography we like to see work that is experimental in technique, environmental in spirit, or that exposes the inhumanity of the global capitalist industrial military complex to say Enough.
Please submit up to five pieces of art per entry. Our journal is printed in black and white, so consider how your work will translate to grayscale. Upon acceptance, we’ll need files that are at least 3.5" wide at 300 DPI.
For translation submissions there are no restrictions on content, style, or word-count, but we will read more favorably work that is submitted in a clean, publishable format. The art of translation provides a critical avenue into new literary forms and psychological landscapes: if you are a translator working on an original work in a non-English language, we want to see it.
Please include a copy of the original text alongside your translation, as well as a statement demonstrating that the English translation rights are available.
If you would like to study the art of translation, consider our publisher’s interview with the legendary translator Gregory Rabassa, who translated One Hundred Years of Solitude and Hopscotch into English, to get a clear idea on how to pursue life as a translator.
We reject the notion that any guidance can be given about poetry. However, if you desire specifics: We seek poetry that is singular in both its vision and voice, regardless of form, style, or content. You are invited to submit 3 to 5 unpublished poems. If you are working on a longer work or book-length project, feel free to submit an excerpt up to 5 pages and describe your project in your cover letter.
We’ve temporarily paused poetry submissions.
For prose, please submit one story or essay per entry. There are no restrictions on content, style, or word-count, but we will read more favorably a work that is submitted in a clean, publishable format. Our readers are most familiar reading work in Times, Georgia, Calibri, Arial, or other readable fonts. Please double-space your document and be sure to include page numbers.
We also encourage writers of fiction to read The Art of Fiction with Ralph Ellison. Ellison provides invaluable guidance on life as a writer.
We’ve temporarily paused fiction submissions.
We are now encouraging writers to submit their original flash fiction for online publication on the Northwest Review website. There are no restrictions on content or style; however, please limit your entry to two stories with a maximum of 1000 words per story.
Flash fiction submissions will not be considered for the print journal. However, you can submit your flash fiction in both places, i.e., to the flash fiction reading queue and to the print fiction reading queue, in two separate submissions.
We’ve temporarily paused flash fiction submissions.
Cover letters are optional. We’re happy to read submissions blindly. However, we do like establishing relationships with our community and getting to know you over the course of your writing career, and if you send us a cover letter that helps us get to know you.
In terms of what to include, think of your cover letter as our editors’ introduction to you and your work. Tell us where you’re from, your schooling (if applicable), job situation, your favorite writers, any publications, your favorite books. Here’s an example of a cover letter that has come into The Paris Review, The Southern Review, and The Kenyon Review recently. You can follow this template if you find it helpful:
Date of your submission, so, for instance:
Dear Readers (but ideally, the name of the Genre Editor reading your work):
I’m reaching out to see if you’d consider my LITERARY CONTRIBUTION [description of translated work, poem(s), fiction, etc].
I am submitting this because my poem/story/interview/book review explores topics of interest in the Frontier of American Letters. My work has previously been published in [name of publications]; or if this is your debut publication, describe what your story would be like if it were published here, as your first.
Some of my favorite authors are X, Y, and Z — So and So is an artist who inspires my work.
Thank you for reading my submission!
The above is the sort of cover letters that help our readers have some context for your work. Many emerging writers submit five, even ten works over the course of a few years, before a story or poem breaks through — but we remember the near-misses and enjoy reading them and watching the development of writers as they work on their craft.