The answers to all of the questions we most frequently receive can be found below. Please read carefully before contacting us.
Q: What are your writers’ guidelines? Do you accept simultaneous submissions? What about electronic submissions?
A: Here are the complete writers’ guidelines. We accept simultaneous submissions as long as you notify us as soon as possible if the manuscript has been accepted elsewhere. We generally devote 6-14 pages to each poet, so please submit manuscripts with this length requirement in mind.
We currently offer, for a small fee, the option to submit electronically as well. Please note that this electronic option is offered for the convenience of those not wanting to pay postage and printing costs — the fee is meant to cover the printing and other administrative costs on our end. Acceptance rates for electronic and regular submissions are the same; currently, less than 1%.
Q: If I submit to the Missouri Review, how soon can I expect a response?
A: Our standard response time is about 10-12 weeks, though we often respond a little sooner to electronic submissions. However, depending on the time of year, response times regardless of submission method will vary. While you might receive a response in as little as a month over the summer, at other times — especially if your piece was submitted in the late fall and/or is under serious consideration — a response may be longer in coming.
Please give us at least six months before contacting us about your work. According to Duotrope.com, our typical response time is closer to two months, but since we do have a small staff and are based at a university, we can be slower around the holidays and the semester breaks.
Q: How much do you pay your authors, and what rights does the Missouri Review buy when accepting a manuscript?
A: We currently pay $40 per page. Like most literary magazines — and indeed many commercial periodicals — TMR buys first serial rights. The only future “right” we have on a piece is a request to acknowledge TMR as the original publisher on any republication in book form.
Q: Should I include a SASE (self-addressed, stamped envelope) even if I provide my phone number and/or email address?
A: Yes. All submissions, and correspondence regarding submissions, should be accompanied by a SASE for reply. Material sent without a SASE will not receive a response and will be recycled. We receive more than 15,000 submissions per year and, like most major journals, lack the staff to respond to manuscripts by email and/or telephone.
Q: Are cover letters required?
A: Cover letters are not required but encouraged. If you wish, a brief note providing contact and/or relevant biographical information (highlights only) can be included. Detailed lists of publications are not necessary, nor are summations of your work.
Q: Do you accept book reviews and interviews?
A: Yes. We do accept unsolicited book reviews, though you should query us first via email. Also, TMR only publishes omnibus reviews, not reviews of a single text. For example, in the Spring 2017 issue, Kate McIntyre reviewed four novels with dogs as main characters; in the Fall 2016 issue, Kristine Somerville reviewed five books about humans’ turbulent relationship with money. Please keep this in mind when querying us.
We are always seeking good interviews, and like book reviews, we suggest you query us first via email. While we don’t have any specific restrictions about interviews, like our book reviews, it is a good idea to read some of our recent interviews first to get an idea of who to interview and what sort of questions make for a good, intriguing interview.
Q: Do you accept previously published work? What is TMR’s definition of previously published? Do publications on my personal blog count?
A: No. We do not publish any previously published work. Our definition of “published” is material distributed in any manner to the public, print or web, so work posted on your blog should not be submitted to us for consideration.
Q: How do I find out in advance what themes you have scheduled for upcoming issues?
A: The theme of each issue is derived from the material selected for publication and is not predetermined. Our editorial policy is to accept the best writing we can find regardless of the subject matter.
Q: I’ve received a rejection notice with some nice written comments. Does everyone get these?
A: No. Due to the sheer volume of manuscripts we receive, it is impossible to respond in writing even to many quality submissions. Generally, out of every ten manuscripts, only the top two or three will receive further consideration; if rejected, these manuscripts will often have additional written commentary included in the reply.
Q: What happens to my manuscript when it reaches the Missouri Review?
A: Pieces are assigned to readers using our online submission system, which allows each reader to comment on the piece before passing it to others.
Generally, if there are two enthusiastic reactions to a piece, it’s a good sign. Final decisions are made by the editor-in-chief in combination with either the managing and associate editors (in the case of fiction and nonfiction submissions) or the poetry editor (in the case of poetry submissions). A request for a revision or an acceptance for publication is offered to the writer as quickly as possible.
Q: What kind of stories do you see too much of? How about poems?
A: Some story types very frequently encountered by our readers include coming of age stories, sexual awakening stories, family trauma stories, and grieving process stories. We are always excited to see stories that introduce something memorable and fresh.
Similarly, we receive a large number of poems each week that deal with either love or loss (sometimes both). Too often, the writers rely solely on the poignancy of the situation to carry the day. Ultimately, however, poems are judged not on what they are about but on how they are written — i.e., the freshness of the language and the evocative power of the images used.
Q: The Missouri Review promotes itself as a forum for new writers. Do writers who’ve never published before really have a chance?
A: Some magazines talk about discovering new writers, but we really do it. We had a visitor in the office recently who wanted to know how we found so many new writers. He had seen ten first story publications in only five issues of TMR. In fact, we’ve published the first story of more than 100 new fiction writers. In 2016 alone, we were first publishers of Siobhan Phillips, Charles Harmon, and Dan Musgrave.