Submission Guidelines


How to Send Us Your Work: We accept submissions only through our electronic submission system. We do not accept submissions through postal services or email. You may send us manuscripts for the following submission categories: General Submissions, Story of the Week, Readers’ Narrative, or a specific Contest. Your manuscript must be in one of the following file forms: .doc, .rtf, .pdf, .docx, .txt, .wpd, .odf, .mp3, .mp4, .mov, and .flv.

Technical Difficulties: If you have any questions or encounter technical difficulties, please Contact Us.

Formatting Your Manuscript: All manuscripts should be in 12-point type, with at least one-inch margins, and sequentially numbered pages. Fiction and nonfiction should be double-spaced. Poetry should be single-spaced. The author’s name, address, telephone number, and email address should be typed at the top of the first page. Contributors are asked to include a brief biographical note with their submissions.

Timing: Submissions may be sent to us at any time, year-round.

Simultaneous Submissions: We accept multiple submissions, since we feel that it’s unreasonable to expect writers to give a magazine an exclusive look at a work unless the magazine can respond within two to three weeks. We want writers to have every possible opportunity for success, so we’re willing to risk losing a story we want when someone at another magazine may have done their reading before we have, and in that case we’ll be sorry to lose the piece but happy for the writer.

Response Time: Our response time varies from four to twelve weeks, with the slowest times usually being August/September and December/January.

Submission Fees: Narrative is a nonprofit organization with the ambition of encouraging good literary work. We do not charge readers for the magazine. However, for unsolicited submissions, we do charge a nominal fee, which helps cover the basic administrative costs related to receiving, reading, and responding to submissions. Also, a portion of the reading fee helps fund our annual Narrative Prize. Our desire is to connect readers and writers, and we strongly encourage anyone interested in submitting work to read the magazine before submitting. You may read the magazine for free. If you enjoy reading it and wish to submit, we hope you will feel that the reading fee, which is lower than most literary magazine subscription fees, is more than justified by the quality of the work the magazine offers. We are strongly committed to publishing debut and emerging writers, and those writers account for a third of the three to four hundred works we publish each year.

Open Reading Periods: During the first two weeks of April, we do not require a reading fee for general submissions made specifically to the Open Reading category via our submissions page. However, manuscripts submitted during this period are not eligible for the Narrative Prize.

Payment to Authors: Narrative is strongly committed to supporting our authors' work. Our current rates for work are as follows:

—$150 for a Story of the Week, with $400 each for the annual Top Five Stories of the Week.
—$150 to $350 for 500 to 2,000 word manuscripts.
—$350 to $1,000 for 2,000 to 15,000 word manuscripts.
—Rates for book-length works vary, depending on the length and nature of the work.
—$50 minimum for each accepted poem and audio piece. ($25 for poetry reprints.)
—$200 each for the annual Top Five Poems of the Week.
—We do not pay for Readers’ Narratives.


All submissions with a reading fee, from new or emerging writers, are eligible for the $4,000 Narrative Prize, awarded annually.

$4,000 Narrative Prize: The Narrative Prize is awarded annually for the best short story, novel excerpt, poem, or work of literary nonfiction published by a new or emerging writer in Narrative. The deadline for entries for each year’s award is June 15. The winner is announced each September, and the prize is awarded in October. The winner is widely publicized and is cited in an ongoing listing in Narrative. The prize is judged by the magazine’s editors and, in some years, may be divided between winners, when more than one work merits the award.

Word Count Guidelines:

SHORT SHORT STORY manuscripts must be between two and five pages in length, and no less than 500 and no more than 2,000 words.


MANUSCRIPTS OF 2,000 to 15,000 WORDS can include short stories, essays, one-act plays, and other complete short works of nonfiction, and excerpts from longer works of fiction and nonfiction.


NOVELLAS and other long works that are less than book length may run between 15,000 and 40,000 words. For works of this length, please submit the first 15,000 words with a synposis. (Based on our reading of the first 15,000 words, we will ask to see the complete manuscript if we think the work is suitable for Narrative.)


SERIALIZATION OF BOOK-LENGTH WORKS. For consideration for serialization, please send the first chapter and a one-page synopsis of the book. (Based on our reading of the first chapter and synopsis, we will ask to see the complete book manuscript if we think the book is suitable for serialization in Narrative. For further information on our program of serializations, please click here.)


POETRY submissions may contain up to five poems. The poems should be contained in a single file. Your submission should give a strong sense of your style and range. We accept submissions of all poetic forms and genres but do not accept translations.


ONE-ACT PLAYS: We are particularly interested in finding dramas whose impact can be experienced as much on the page as in production. We are open to plays that have been previously published but are out of print, to plays that have been produced, and to ones that have never been produced or published. Length can run up to 15,000 words.

NARRATIVE OUTLOUD AUDIO PROSE submissions may be fiction or nonfiction but should take a storytelling form. Audio prose submissions must be in MP3 format and may be up to ten minutes long.

NARRATIVE OUTLOUD AUDIO POETRY submissions must be in MP3 format and may be up to ten minutes long.


NARRATIVE OUTLOUD VIDEO submissions may be short films and documentaries of up to 15 minutes. Submissions must be in .mp4, .mov, or .flv. format.

READERS’ NARRATIVES may run up to 1,500 words.


Click here to submit your work.