Open Calls for The Heartland Review | ECTC

Open Calls for The Heartland Review

The Heartland Review: A biannual literary Journal


Founded in 2000, The Heartland Review (ISSN: 2473-9545) is published in the spring and fall as an imprint of The Heartland Review Press. The Heartland Review publishes fiction, creative nonfiction/fiction, and poetry of any all subcategories, styles, and voices. Our writers have ranged in age from 15 to 80+ from around the world. 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.

Open Calls are CLOSED.

In early February we opened a call for poetry where we accepted up to 3 poems by a single author. This open call had a maximum submission cap of 60 or on April 15, whichever occurs first. On 2/21/24 we received 60 total submissions, so the project closed. We will read these through summer because that's about 180 poems to read. Notifications will be made around August. 

In January we hosted an open call for fiction. It filled very quickly. We are currently still reading those. Our goal for notifications is early summer, hopefully June.

We anticipate our next open calls to be in the fall, usually around August.

General Submission Information and Rules

By submitting, the entrant agrees to abide by all contest rules published below.

When & What to submit:

During our open calls, we will consider fiction and creative nonfiction for the following seasonal issue.

All entries must be original works by the entrant, in English. Plagiarism, which includes the use of third-party poetry, song lyrics, characters, or another person’s universe, without written permission, will result in disqualification. Works generated or created by computer software and/or artificial intelligence will be disqualified. Excessive violence or sex and the use of profane, vulgar, racist or offensive words, determined by the judges, will result in the story being rejected.

  • Poetry: 1 file of up to 3 unpublished poems of any style and any topic.
  • 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 if the chapter has not been published in the U.S. We ask for First North American Serial Rights but rights revert back to you upon our publication. We will read the first 50 submissions during the open call period. 
  • 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 your book if the chapter has not been published in the U.S. We ask for First North American Serial Rights but the rights revert back to you upon our publication. We will read the first 50 submissions of creative nonfiction in August and in September during the open call period.
  • Authors may submit only one entry every open call period. This means please don't submit a fiction story and a nonfiction piece in the same reading periods. Please don't submit two or times in the open call period. Multiple genre and multiple entries will be declined.
  • Manuscripts must be formatted based on the speific below guidelines. 
  • We reserve the right to make punctuation/spelling/grammar/format revisions before publication.


We usually post 2 Open Calls per year. Some are free and some are not.

If the open call is in January through May, then publication issue is for fall. If the open call is August through December, then the issue is for the spring.

For poets, 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 in the Open Call category from May through November. Poets should submit through the Joy Bale Boone Poetry Prize during the fall.

Where to submit:

Below is a link that says Submit; click it. You will be prompted to create an account using Submittable if you do not have one. Only electronic submissions through Submittable are accepted. We do not and can not accept any late entries or email entries. We read the first 50 submitted to us each month during the Open Call.  Before you submit, please read the formatting guidelines below.

Changes / Revisions:

We can not make changes once you have submitted. If you would like to make changes, please withdraw your first submission and submit a new one but be advised that we may have reached our cap of 50 for that month or the Open Call may have ended.  All resubmissions must follow the same guidelines. THRP reserves the right to make punctuation/spelling/grammar/format revisions before publication.


THRP retains first North American serial rights and may use the submitted material to promote the The Heartland Review 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 in the United States or if you use First North American Serial Rights.

If two pieces of work are submitted under one entry (this applies to poems but can apply to other genres) and one is published, you must withdraw the entire entry but you can resubmit what is still available to publish during the Open Call. 


Free submissions for all open calls in the Spring of 2024.

We do anticipate needing to charge a small fee in the future, though.

We do gladly accept donations to our publication. You can make a donation by clicking here:   


Because we do not charge for submission, there is not a monetary payment for this contest.

THRP pays 1 contributor copy mailed to the authors of published works who have a United States Postal Service Address.  We can not mail to international addresses at this time, so writers who live outside the U.S. - whose mail requires additional processing and forms - often provide  an address of friends, relatives, and or their U.S. Consulate. We hope to change this in the future. 

All writers can purchase copies through Amazon on our Shop page. 


The Heartland Review comes out in late Spring and late Fall. If you are published with us and you have a United States Postal Service address, 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.

THRP is not an independent press. We are subject to the governance of our college ECTC which in turn is part of a larger entity the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. As such, we are not able to enter into a legally binding agreement.

Formatting Guidelines: All Genres

  1. Submissions must be in a 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 in MLA format.
    1. Single spaced entries will not be read. 
    2. Do not put in extra spaces or have double with single spacing.
    3. Do ​not insert your own "enters" at the end of each line. Ensure Word wraps the text automatically.
    4. Use left align, not justification.
  3. Submittable will request authors to compose a short cover letter and biography. The bio should be 30-40 words and include contact information along with your original creative work.
  4. 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!  

Click here to Submit -  Powered by Submittable

Questions & Answers

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 file(s). 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 50 submissions of each genre each month during the open call. 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. This can be 3-6 months.  If you submitted for Fall Open call (August and September) we try to have our decisions made by Valentine's Day.

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

Follow up and Clean Up

After copies have been mailed, 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 and should 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.


The Heartland Review, Fall 2023