Fiction Submission Period: Sept. 15–Oct. 31
Doris Betts Fiction Prize competition guidelines
The Betts Prize winner and published finalists will be nominated for the O. Henry Prize anthology.
Creative Nonfiction Submission Period:
Jan. 15–March 1
Alex Albright Creative Nonfiction Prize competition guidelines
Poetry Submission Period:
Mar. 15 through Apr. 30
James Applewhite Poetry Prize competition guidelines
The prize winners are typically among NCLR's Pushcart Prize nominations.
Our Best of the Net nominations are selected from finalists published in NCLR Online.
We also nominate for the following honors:Best American Short Stories
And we welcome writers to call other contests to our attention. We would be happy to nominate the writing in our pages for appropriate prizes.
ATTENTION WRITERS: NCLR uses Submittable to handle submissions online. Please read through these guidelines before submitting to NCLR. Note the reading periods and deadlines for the various genres of writing that we publish. For instructions about using Submittable, click on the SUBMIT ONLINE tab above.
NCLR publishes interviews and literary criticism about North Carolina writers and high-quality poetry, fiction, drama, and creative nonfiction by North Carolina writers or set in North Carolina. Our definition of a North Carolina writer is anyone who currently lives in North Carolina, has lived in North Carolina, or uses North Carolina as subject matter.
SPECIAL FEATURE SECTION: Much of each issue is thematically focused, but creative writing submissions (considered through our competitions) do not have to focus on an issue's theme.
Direct questions about the special feature section (and suggestions for future topics) to the Editor.
Ideas for future special feature topics are very welcome! Please send the (literary) topic you would like to see us explore to the Editor.
#31, 2022: Writers Who Teach, Teachers Who Write (submissions due Aug. 31, 2021)
#32, 2023: North Carolina Native American Literature (submissions due Aug. 31, 2022);
guest editor, Kirstin Squint
#33, 2024: We are seeking a guest editor for an issue on Disability (in) Literature in North Carolina; if interested, contact the Editor.
The special feature section is just one section of each issue. Content throughout the rest of the issue varies.
In this section of each issue, we publish articles, interviews, and creative writing (poetry, fiction, and cnf submitted through our competitions) that hearken back to special feature topics of past issues. See left column and FAQ below regarding submission periods and deadlines for the creative genres.
A portion of each issue is open to other NORTH CAROLINA-related writers and writing (not related to the special feature section topic), including interviews with North Carolina writers, literary criticism (without academic jargon) on North Carolina writers, and creative writing by North Carolina writers (poetry, fiction, and cnf submitted through our competitions). We are particularly interested in articles and interviews that introduce new North Carolina writers or re-introduce neglected North Carolina writers. See below regarding submission periods and deadlines for the creative genres.
Literary criticism on North Carolina writers and Interviews with North Carolina writers should be submitted as a Word file, double-spaced, with 1-inch margins. Please consult NCLR’s documentation style sheet to format your source documentation. See above to determine which section of the issue your critical essay or interview would be appropriate for.
JOHN EHLE PRIZE: One mission of the North Carolina Literary Review is to promote forgotten or neglected writers of the Old North State. To this end, we have collaborated with Press 53 of Winston-Salem to create a $250 honorarium for the author of the best work on a neglected or forgotten writer selected for publication in our pages (essays on the work of John Ehle included). Eligible content may be for any section of the issue (feature, Flashbacks, or NC Miscellany) and can be literary criticism or an interview. All submissions are blind reviewed by appropriate literary scholars. In the event that more than one paper or interview recommended for publication in a given year are deemed eligible for this prize, a judge will be selected by the editor to select which will receive the prize.
RANDALL KENAN PRIZE: Another NCLR mission is to promote new writers. The UNC Chapel Hill Creative Writing Program will give a $250 honorarium to the author of the best essay on or interview with a new (or relatively new) North Carolina writer, selected for publication in our pages. Eligible content may be for any section of the issue (feature, Flashbacks, or NC Miscellany). All submissions are blind reviewed by appropriate literary scholars. In the event that more than one paper or interview recommended for publication in a given year are deemed eligible for this prize, a judge will be selected by the editor to select which will receive the prize.
PAUL GREEN PRIZE: NCLR is collaborating with the Paul Green Foundation to inspire scholarship on the works of North Carolina’s preeminent playwright, the author of The Lost Colony. The Paul Green Foundation will provide a $250 honorarium to the author of the best Paul Green–related content accepted for publication in the North Carolina Literary Review. Submit for prize consideration through Submittable by August 1 of each year (use the Flashbacks category, unless your submission is relevant to the year's special feature section theme). Submissions will be blind reviewed by appropriate experts on Paul Green. All submissions will also be considered for publication. Scholars interested in this opportunity might consider applying for an Archie K. Davis Fellowship for funds to visit the Southern Historical Collection at UNC Chapel Hill, where the Paul Green Papers are located (note: Davis fellowship applications are due by March 1 each year).
NCLR encourages writers to submit relevant art and photography with articles and interviews. Find image guidelines here.
NCLR also publishes high-quality Creative Writing by North Carolina writers or set in North Carolina (no connection to special feature section topic necessary). Again, our definition of a North Carolina writer is anyone who currently lives in North Carolina, has lived in North Carolina, or uses North Carolina as subject matter.
All poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction must be submitted through the competitions described below. Contest results are announced within 4 months of the deadline.
Fiction submissions are accepted September 15 through October 31 for the Doris Betts Fiction Prize competition, sponsored by the North Carolina Writers Network, which awards the author of other winning story $250. NCLR handles the submissions for the Network and publishes the winner and select finalists. The competition guidelines can be found on the North Carolina Writers Network website.
Creative Nonfiction is accepted January 15 trhough March 1 for the Alex Albright Creative Nonfiction Prize competition. The winner receives at least $250 of the $1000 prize funding and publication in NCLR. Finalists will also be considered for publication and receive honoraria. See the competition guidelines for more information. The submission deadline is March 1.
Poetry submissions are accepted March 15 through April 30 for NCLR’s James Applewhite Poetry Prize competition. The winner receives $250 and publication in NCLR. Finalists will also be considered for publication and receive honoria. See the competition guidelines for more information. The submission deadline is April 30.
One-Act Plays are also welcome. If related to the special feature section topic, submit by that deadline (Aug. 31 of the preceding year). Other drama submissions are accepted year-round. If your one-act play is not related to the special feature section, submit it to the North Carolina Miscellany section unless it is related to a past special feature section, in which case, submit to the Flashbacks section.
What are your page length requirements?
See the length limits in the Albright (creative nonfiction), Betts (fiction), and Applewhite (poetry) competitions. We do not have specific length limits for other submissions. We don't like the idea of losing good material because someone was trying to stay under a specific word count. The pattern seems to be that the longer articles/interviews in an issue run about 5000 words.
How do I submit my work to NCLR?
NCLR is using Submittable to handle submissions. The submission process is entirely online. If you have not used Submittable before, go to the Submit Online page for additional help to get started.
Do you still take submissions via US Mail?
We prefer not to and will request of those who mail submissions to us to resubmit electronically. If there is some problem with the online submission process or some other reason that you cannot submit electronically, please contact us via our submissions email address.
What is the current response time for submissions?
See the Albright (creative nonfiction), Betts (fiction), and Applewhite (poetry) competition guidelines regarding notification timeline for these submissions. For other submissions, we try to respond within 1-3 months. We welcome your gentle reminders if we have not responded within these time periods.
Are you a refereed publication?
Yes, although we do solicit some content. Scholarly submissions and uninvited interviews are refereed, and even solicited interviews are not guaranteed publication until members of the editorial staff and board approve them. Most of the creative writing we publish is considered through blind submission to the competitions we manage.
Do you consider previously published work?
On rare occasions (and usually within the special feature section), NCLR publishes previously published work, but usually only a work that is no longer available. Please check with the editor before submitting work that has been published elsewhere.