Questions

Because submissions guidelines should be fairly brief, we have decided to include this section, which contains questions writers frequently ask us in our travels to conferences and book fairs and such, followed, of course, by our answers . . .

Should I query you before sending my work?
No. We’re not agents or book publishers, so there’s no need to send inquiries asking us whether we would be interested in seeing your story or poem or novel excerpt or essay. We will consider all unsolicited manuscripts sent to us during our stated reading period, September 1 through May 31.

Do you accept electronic submissions?
Yes. We now accept electronic submissions via Submittable.

What sort of stories are you looking for?
Our standard response to this often-asked question is no different from that of most other literary publications: a look at a sample issue of the magazine is the best way to determine the quality of writing that we seek. If you peruse a few issues, you will discover that we have eclectic tastes, which is what makes concisely answering this question difficult. Inevitably, our attempts will be found wanting. We enjoy—and, more importantly, our readers have come to expect—ambitious, intelligent, and deftly crafted works that defy expectations, works whose complex characters are embroiled in unique and engrossing situations. If that's not concrete enough, or you need something more specific, we suggest that you read the magazine.

What types of poetry do you publish?
We’ve published formal verse, free verse, confessional lyrics, lyric narratives, long lyric narratives, discontinuous verse, elegies, dramatic monologues, abstract poems, realist poems, surrealist poems, modern poems, post-modern poems, post-post-modern poems, post-confessional poems, ironically self-aware/unaware poems, poems with palindromes, humorous poems, devastating poems, absurd poems, prose poems, etcetera. Really, the advice here is the same as that for fiction writers: the best way to get a sense of what we might publish is to read a broad sampling of what we have published.

Do you publish translations?
Yes. We haven’t published many works in translation, but we do publish them.

How many stories/essays should I include in a submission?
Use your best judgment, but here are some guidelines: Send no more than two average-length (twenty to thirty pages) pieces, and only one longer piece or novel excerpt. If you have a batch of short-shorts or short essays, send no more than three.

How many poems should I include in a submission?
Again, use your best judgment, but three to five short poems is standard. If you write longer verse, send three. If you write really long verse, send one. If you’ve written a book-length epic, do what novelists do and select an excerpt. Please do not send us your book and tell us to pick from the treasures within.

How often should I submit during your reading period?
Our general advice is to submit no more than three manuscripts per year, or no more than three times per year. (That doesn’t mean you can send three stories three times per year, for a total of nine different stories. Well, you could, but then we’d come to recognize your name, though perhaps not for your literary accomplishments.) Don’t inundate us with your work. It’s also good form to wait until you’ve heard back from us before submitting your next manuscript.

Are cover letters necessary? Do you ever bother to read them?
Truthfully, they are not absolutely necessary, but they can be very useful. We do read cover letters, but not always. Regardless, you should include one with your submission. They’re helpful for record keeping, and should your work be accepted, they provide invaluable contact information.

What should I put in my cover letter?
Keep your cover letter simple, factual, and brief. Always provide all of your contact information: address, phone number, cell phone number, and e-mail address. Let us know a bit about yourself as a writer—your publishing history, awards, and the like—but do so without providing us with your curriculum vitae. A little bit of personality is always welcome, but err on the side of being businesslike and professional in tone. Don’t say anything in your cover letter that will undermine the work to be considered. And don’t pitch us your work; save that for agents. It’s also not necessary, or advisable, to summarize your submission. This is especially true for novelists submitting excerpts. If you find that you need, for purposes of clarity and understanding, to provide a gloss for the section you want us to consider, then it’s not sufficiently self-contained. Finally, if you will be sending your submission via the post office, let us know whether, in the event of rejection, you want us to return your manuscript in your SASE or toss it into the recycling bin.

Do I really need to include an SASE?
Not if you submitted via Submittable. But if you sent your work to us via the post, and you want to receive word on the fate of your submission, then yes, absolutely.

How much postage should I put on my SASE?
That depends on how much of your manuscript you want back. Most writers and poets elect to use their SASEs for our reply only, in which case a single first-class stamp is fine. If you want your submission to be returned along with our response, then know that one first-class postage stamp covers the return of only four pages (this is the USPS talking here, not us). So if you want all five of your poems back, or all of your thirty-page story, then you must include additional postage to cover the cost.

If you have not provided enough postage or designated your SASE reply only, our policy is to send back all of a poetry submission if it is four pages or less and just the title page/first page of a work of prose. Please do not put our address as the return address on your SASEs. If you haven’t provided enough postage, the USPS will send it back to us with an additional postage charge. In our humble opinion, that’s asking too much of a nonprofit literary magazine.

Can I use a postcard instead of an SASE?
Yes, but please don’t ask us to write out a rejection. Prepare the card yourself. Often writers put check boxes next to wording such as, “Good story, but just not for us. Try again.” “Thanks, but no thanks.”

I know you require an SASE, but it would save me some money if you could send your response to me via email. Is this okay?
If you sent your work by post, then no.

I live outside of the United States. How do I negotiate postage for my SASE?
Unfortunately, our local post office no longer accepts International Reply Coupons (IRCs), so this is not a viable method of ensuring your SASE has the proper amount of US postage. The only way to guarantee return of your SASE would be to purchase enough US postage to cover the air-mail cost. We understand that this may be difficult if not impossible in your country, so we recommend that, rather than waste your cash on useless coupons and possibly insufficient postage, that you skip the SASE, then, after three months has elapsed, send an inquiry to the editor. That or submit your work electronically via our Submittable portal.

I live in/am temporarily residing in a foreign land whose postal system is unreliable. Could you send me your response via e-mail?
No, but send an email inquiry after a suitable amount of time (see next question) to check on your manuscript’s status. Or again, the best advice is to submit via Submittable.

How long should I wait before inquiring about my manuscript’s status?
Our response time is currently four to eight months, and we prefer you wait at least four months before sending a query. We also prefer to receive queries via Submittable if you submitted online; if you submitted by post, then snail mail is preferable (a note with an SASE or a postcard works), but if you must use email, send your inquiry to the editor. Keep in mind, if you have not heard from us, it is most likely because we have not yet made a decision.

Do you accept simultaneous submissions?
Yes, but be mindful of our response time when simultaneously submitting. If you earnestly want your work to appear in the Gettysburg Review, then please give us the time we need to consider it, which is at minimum four months. What this means is that you should hold off on submitting elsewhere, particularly to publications that receive fewer submissions, until you have heard from us.

My simultaneously submitted piece has also/already been accepted by another journal. What should I do?
The very fist thing you should do after celebrating is notify us that the piece is no longer available. There is nothing more frustrating than accepting a piece only to find that it has been accepted by another publication. We would rather you withdraw the work immediately than cause us to waste time on a piece that's unavailable.

About the Gettysburg Review

The Gettysburg Review, published by Gettysburg College, is recognized as one of the country’s premier literary journals. Since its debut in 1988, work by such luminaries as E. L. Doctorow, Rita Dove, James Tate, Joyce Carol Oates, Richard Wilbur, and Donald Hall.

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