The Regular Reading Period is open. 

Ploughshares welcomes unsolicited submissions of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction during our regular reading period, open from June 1 to January 15 at noon EST. The literary journal is published four times a year: blended poetry and prose issues in the Winter and Spring, a prose issue in the Summer, and a special longform prose issue in the Fall. Our Spring and Summer issues are guest-edited by different writers of prominence.

Guest editors are invited to solicit up to half of their issues, with the other half selected from manuscripts submitted to the journal and screened for them by staff editors. This guest-editor policy, which we have used since our founding in 1971, is designed to introduce readers to different literary circles and tastes, and to offer a fuller representation of the range and diversity of contemporary letters than would be possible with a single editorship.


Manuscript Guidelines

We accept up to 6,500 words of prose, and 1-5 pages of poetry. If you are submitting to our Fall Longform issue, we accept up to 15,000 words. Excerpts of longer works are welcome if self-contained, and translations are welcome if permission has been granted by the original author. Queries to the Look2 Critical Essay series are welcome (see guidelines here).

It would be much appreciated if you kept the following in mind when submitting your work:

  • Typed, double-spaced pages. (Double or single-spacing is welcome for poetry).
  • Numbered pages.
  • If in hard copy, submit with text on one side of the page.

We do not consider:

  • Unsolicited book reviews and criticism.
  • Work published before the publication date of the issue for which your work is accepted. If your submission is part of a forthcoming book, let us know in your cover letter and the expected publication date.
  • Work written by individuals currently affiliated with Ploughshares or Emerson College as a volunteer screener, intern, student, staff member, or faculty member.

We cannot accommodate revisions, changes of return address, or forgotten SASEs. We cannot be responsible for delay, loss, or damage.

Cover Letters

We encourage you to include a short cover letter with your submission. It should reference:

  • Major publications and awards.
  • Any association or past correspondence with a guest or staff editor.
  • Past publication in Ploughshares.
Contributor Honorarium

Payment is upon publication:

  • $45/printed page, $90 minimum per title, $450 maximum per author.
  • Two contributor copies of the issue.
  • A one-year subscription.
Simultaneous vs. Multiple Submissions

We do not consider multiple submissions, so please send only one manuscript at a time, either by mail or online. Do not send a second submission until you have heard about the first. Simultaneous submissions to other journals are welcome as long as they are identified as such and we are notified immediately upon acceptance elsewhere.

If you are working on submissions with an agent, or are an agent submitting work on behalf of an author, please read our note on simultaneous submissions with an agent.


Submit Online

Submit via our online submission manager

If this is your first time submitting, you will need to create an account before uploading your document. To do this, click “My Account” at the top right corner of this page. 

  • There is a $3.75 service fee for online submissions (current subscribers may submit online without charge). This is not a reading fee.
  • Upload your submission as a Word (.doc, .docx), rich-text format (.rtf) file, or PDF. No .Pages, .txt, or Open Office Documents.
  • Upload only one file containing one prose piece or one to five pages of poems.
  • Type or paste your cover letter into the provided “Cover Letter” field.
  • From the drop-down genre menu, be sure to select the appropriate genre of the work you are submitting. Please select “Longform” for longform submissions, regardless of genre.
Free Online Submissions

Subscribe to Ploughshares and submit online for free. You may subscribe here. If you are a current subscriber, you will still be prompted to checkout, but you will not be required to enter your credit card information and will not be charged.

Submit by Mail

We greatly prefer digital submissions, but you may mail submissions to:

Emerson College
120 Boylston St.
Boston, MA 02116-4624

  • Mail your manuscript in a page-size manila envelope with your full name and address written on the outside (at least an inch down from the top, to account for USPS barcodes).
  • Identify the genre of your manuscript on the outside of the envelope.
  • You must include your email address in your cover letter.  All manuscript replies will be sent via email.
  • If you would like your full manuscript to be returned, indicate this in your cover letter and ensure that you include a self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE) with adequate postage.
  • We cannot return manuscripts to international addresses, even with IRCs.
  • There is no service charge for mail submissions.

Unsolicited work sent directly to a guest editor’s home or office will be ignored and discarded; guest editors are formally instructed not to read such work.

Accessing Your Submissions

You can view the status of your current submission as well as a list of your past submissions at any time by logging in to your account and clicking “My Submissions.”

Notifications and Queries

Expect three to five months for a decision (our backlog is heaviest during the fall and spring). We now receive well over a thousand manuscripts a month, so please be patient. We accept queries after five months have passed. Queries as well as withdrawal notifications should be sent via email or the mail. They should include:

  • Your name.
  • The date, genre, and title of the submission.
  • Whether the submission was sent by mail or online.
  • A SASE, if you send your query via mail.