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General Guidelines

Please read all relevant guidelines before submitting work.

Our reading period is from October 1 - March 31.

  • The best submissions come from those who have read our back issues and understand our mission. Above all, we seek works of artistic excellence.
  • Simultaneous submissions are accepted, but please withdraw your piece immediately if it is accepted elsewhere.
  • Submissions should use an easily readable font, such as Times New Roman or Garamond. (Our journal is printed in a serif font.)
  • In the document’s filename, please include your name, the name of the work you are submitting, and the page number (when more than one page, that is).
  • Make sure the title, your name, and your contact information, especially your email address, are on the first page of the document, along with a word count for prose or line count for poetry.

Why does Relief charge for submissions?

Submittable takes the first dollar, and after that your money goes toward normal (shoestring) operating expenses. In the old days, of course, we used to spend for every submission to ship paper through the mail; we hope you'll think of this as your money going to better use. You can submit your fee with a credit card or PayPal.

Accepted Work

At the time of acceptance, authors will be sent a publication agreement. By accepting the work, we are assuming first publication rights, but authors will retain all future rights. Some pieces from each issue may be excerpted on the website. By agreeing to publication, authors also agree to online publication of this promotional excerpt.

Authors of accepted work will receive a complimentary contributor’s copy. One piece from each genre (poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction) will be selected for the Editor's Choice Award. Recipients will receive two contributor’s copies.

Fiction

  • Relief seeks fiction of high literary merit that takes the struggles and joys of our everyday lives seriously.
  • Stories should not exceed 8,000 words, though in general, we prefer to work with much shorter pieces.
  • You may submit up to three stories per reading period.
  • Submit each story as a separate file within the same submission.
  • Double space.

Creative Nonfiction

  • We don't want memoirs or devotionals so much as exploratory essays with an emotional arc that may or may not be narrative.
  • Creative Nonfiction should not exceed 5,000 words, though in general, we prefer to work with much shorter pieces.
  • You may submit up to three pieces per reading period
  • Submit each essay as a separate file within the same submission.
  • Double space.

Poetry

  • Poetry should not exceed 1000 words.
  • You may submit up to five poems per reading period.
  • Submit each poem as a separate file within the same submission.
  • We tend to like poetry that engages with authentic spiritual, emotional, and social experience with a good ear for the music of language.
  • Poems that continue onto a second page should include a note of either “continued with stanza break” or “continued without stanza break.”

Graphic Narrative

  • We are happy to consider short graphic narratives for print or web.
  • As with other work, literary excellence is our highest priority.
  • Our journal is currently printed in black and white, but we can easily feature full color online.