The Absinthe Literary Review, Submission Guidelines
S U B M I S S I O N   G U I D E L I N E S

ALR is no longer accepting submissions of any kind. We may someday in the distant future but holding of one's breath is not advised.


Send: transgressive works dealing with madness, sex, death, disease, and the like; the clash of archaic with modern day; archetype, symbolism, disaffection, surrealism, magical realism, irrealism, philosophy, existential, post and post postmodern flavoring; experimental or flagrantly textured language; alt poetry; alt poetry in classical form; intense crafting of language from the writer’s writer. For more direction, see our Recommended Reading List. 


Do not send: mainstream storytelling; rhyming couplets; Oprah fiction; Internet/chat language and symbol-speak; poetry or fiction without caps or punctuation; hot trends; genre fiction (including horror, sci-fi, crime, western, vampire, romance, erotica, etc.) unless it substantially transcends its genre; high school fiction or poetry; chick lit lite; ethnic lit where hip ethnicity supercedes universality; excess cuteness, wackiness or irony; first, second, or third drafts (“I just wrote this yesterday and thought I’d send it to you”); pieces that exceed our stated word count by thousands of words; work that is above editing.  

Please note: We do not recommend that beginning or hobbyist writers view this site as a good market for their work; however, semi-pros and dedicated up-and-comers are encouraged to submit. Absinthe writers have been published by the highest tier of the literary industry (The New Yorker, Glimmer Train, Zoetrope, Paris Review, Mississippi Review, Triquarterly, Iowa Review, Exquisite Corpse, Ploughshares) and have won major literary awards (Pushcarts, NEA grants, Aga Khan, etc.) so be aware that your work will be judged against some of the best, most innovative writers working today. We are neither resistant to new movements in literature (quite the opposite) nor are we elitist, but we do believe this nearly universal truth: If you haven’t run the industry maze at least once or twice, you probably have an incomplete idea of what “publishable” means. We refuse to edit half-assed stories. 

General Submission Information

Simultaneous submissions are encouraged, but please inform us AT ONCE if the piece is accepted elsewhere. If we decide to accept your piece and you tell us it has been accepted somewhere else, we will bar you from future submissions. Be professional! Previously published pieces (reprints) are acceptable only if you inform us of the fact when you submit. You, the author, retain all rights except First Electronic. Please send only polished final drafts; otherwise you are wasting your time and ours. All submitters should be aware that we do not post works, we publish them. Pieces should be submitted with the explicit understanding that minor editing may take place. Any writer rabidly averse to the standard editorial process would be better off submitting elsewhere. That said, we almost always go with the writer’s view if he or she feels strongly about a particular editorial change. We will most likely institute a form-based online submission process within the next year. Stay tuned if you are a frequent submitter.


Short stories and novel excerpts should be under 4,000 words but we are somewhat flexible; however, we would never consider a piece over 6,000 words. Limit each prose submission to one piece every three months. Subject line of email submission must read “Fiction Submission” and should be addressed to “Fiction Editor” rather than any specific editor. Please send a two to three line bio with your submission.


We publish essays on literary topics only: famous writers, literature, philosophy, literary history, the literary approach, etc. Essays should generally be under 5,000 words. Send essays with a subject line reading “Essay Submission.”     


Please submit 3-7 poems (no length restrictions), and send a two to three line bio with your submission. Subject line of email submission must read “Poetry Submission,” and should be addressed to “Poetry Editor.” 


We are now accepting art submissions. Though most art for ALR is done by in-house staff, we will accept JPG samples from individual artists and will publish a Featured Artist's work throughout the site now and then. Writers should not send any photos/art with their literary submissions.  

Book Reviews

Normal Guidelines: Generally, ALR accepts review copies throughout the year and publishes reviews in each issue. Publishers, publicists, editors, and authors may send Absinthe-appropriate books (see our material preferences for guidance) for review to our snail mail address. Please direct to Book Reviews Editor. Review copies should be mailed 3-6 months prior to the relevant issue’s pub date (see below). Please note: Submitting a book for review does not in any way obligate ALR to review it. With increased submissions of incredibly weak self-published books, we have been forced to review books or not based on a number of factors—including quality of writing, reasonable per unit price, appeal to our readership, basic design, etc. In addition, the sheer volume of submitted books makes it impossible for us to review all that are found worthy. For several reasons, we do not accept or review books in any electronic format. 

File Format

Subject line of e-mail submission must read “Fiction Submission”, “Essay Submission” or “Poetry Submission” as appropriate. Use of any other subject line may result in accidental deletion. We prefer Word or RTF attachments (PC platform) but will accept almost any compatible document form we can recognize /open, including text of e-mail messages, but excluding PDFs. Mac users would be generally well advised to submit in the body of an email. No ZIP, SIT, JPG, GIF, PDF, or EXE files please; they will be deleted unopened. See below for snail mail submission details.

Submission Deadlines/Reading Periods

For the near future and perhaps beyond, we will not adhere to a fixed publishing schedule, instead publishing a full issue somewhere between 2-4 times a year. We accept subs year round, but would appreciate writers submit only once every three months or so. We respond to every submission so keep us updated on your present e-mail address! A fair number of rejections and an occasional acceptance come back as undeliverable. Feel free to contact us with questions.  


ALR issues payment for all accepted work. International writers should note minor exception below.* 

Payment schedule: 

Fiction/Essay: $2-10 for each accepted story/essay.

Poetry: $2-5 for an accepted poetry submission.

Illustration/Featured Art: $1-5

Absinthe Editors’ Prize: $25 for the best story or poetry published in Absinthe in each calendar year. The winner will be announced and featured in the winter issue. There is no need to submit for the Editors’ Prize; all stories/poems published in Absinthe are eligible for consideration.

As we are a non-profit online magazine and dependent upon the persistent vagaries of existence, we reserve the right to alter these payment guidelines at any time with or without notice (though any unlikely change would instantly appear here); however, we are deeply committed to paying every Absinthe writer. Payment will be sent out roughly 1-2 months post-publication, sometimes sooner. For online submissions, please include a mailing address for payment.  

*International Writers: We pay international writers as well, except in those extremely rare cases when postage costs supercede the amount of payment.  International writers picked as the winner of the Absinthe Editors’ Prize will always be paid.

Where to Submit (Electronic)

We prefer e-mail submissions. Submit by clicking on the appropriate link below and attaching your submission to the e-mail form. Please include “Fiction Submission”, “Essay Submission” or “Poetry Submission” in your subject line or your submission may be deleted. If you have problems with the addresses below, you may also submit via snail mail. (Do not cut and paste the addresses below into an email send-to line; the @ symbol in each is an image.) 

Submit fiction to

Submit essays to

Submit poetry to

Where to Submit (Snail Mail)

You may also submit via snail mail, though we would prefer you include an email address and have an electronic version available for transmission if possible. (Having to retype an entire manuscript instantly creates two strikes against it.)  Please do not send your only copy since all mail submissions will be recycled. Please include a self-addressed stamped envelope and/or e-mail address for reply. We will not be held responsible for submissions mailed without strict attention to these guidelines. We will also not be held responsible for submissions or SASEs with inadequate postage. Mail hard-copy submissions to:

The Absinthe Literary Review
P.O. Box 328
Spring Green, WI 53588

Please be aware: Though we have plans to eventually publish a print issue, we are at this time exclusively an online market.

If Your Work Is Accepted

You will receive an e-mail informing you that your piece has been accepted. By submitting your work, you explicitly grant authority for ALR to publish your piece on the WWW for three to four months, to archive it online and with the Stanford-based LOCKSS system, a program designed to ensure that important online content remains permanently available to libraries, major universities, and other institutions. All other rights revert to writer after publication.